Left party makes gains in North Macedonian local polls

Macedonian left-wing party Levica gained more than 50 seats in the first round of elections to the municipal councils. The local body elections also saw far-right opposition party VMRO-DPMNE surpass the incumbent social democrats in many of the cities

October 20, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Local Polls- Macedonia
Rally by Levica. (Photo: via Levica Shtip)

In the elections held to local bodies in North Macedonia on Sunday, October 17, left-wing party Levica (The Left) made significant gains across the country. Levica will now have 51 elected representatives in 30 municipal councils out of 81 cities in the country, a giant leap from its previous tally of just three. The general outcome of the elections, which saw a 48.7% polling turnout, was disappointing for the incumbent Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM). The major opposition party, the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE, won sixteen mayorships in the first round itself with the SDSM confined to just nine. A pro-Albanian coalition partner of the incumbent SDSM led-coalition, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), also won three Albanian-dominated municipalities. The second round run-offs for mayorships of many cities is likely to take place within two weeks.

According to reports, the election outcome is a major setback for the ruling SDSM, led by Zoran Zaev, and a boost for VMRO-DPMNE, which has lost to SDSM in the last three national elections. The SDSM-led coalition supported by ethnic Albanian political parties has a slender majority, with 62 seats in the 120-seat National Assembly. 

The coalition is facing a tricky situation in the Albanian-majority town of Tetovo, where two pro-Albanian parties, the DUI with 15 MPs and Besa movement with four MPs, will confront each other in the second round voting for mayorship. The opposition VMRO-DPMNE, boosted by the electoral gains in the first round of local polls, is anticipating rifts within the SDSM-led coalition in the run up to the second round.

Following the declaration of the results, Recep Ismail ‘Haktan’ from the presidium of Levica told the media that “this success in local elections for the Left means that its principled position on going alone and with full reliance on its capacities is paying off. What is more important is that the idea and vision of how to run central and local government is expanding – and much better times await us in the future.”

“Our elected representatives will be what our MPs are in Parliament – they will be the citizens’ conscience in municipal councils,” he added.

Levica was formed on November 14, 2015 as a far-left socialist party by the merger of the Communist Party of Macedonia, the Solidarity Movement, and the Movement for Social Justice ‘Lenka’. In the 2020 parliamentary elections, Levica made a breakthrough by winning two seats in the National Assembly. Currently, Levica is headed by Dimitar Apasiev, a legal scholar and MP in the house of representatives. Levica continues its opposition to the renaming of the country from ‘Republic of  Macedonia’  to ‘Republic of North Macedonia’ as negotiated in the Prespa agreement with Greece