North Macedonia’s Zaev says he will resign following local election result

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Sunday that he was resigning following his party’s poor showing in municipal elections, but offered no details on the timeline. [EPA-EFE / GEORGI LICOVSKI]

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said on Sunday that he will step down following his party’s poor result in municipal elections, but offered no details on the timeline.

“I take the responsibility for the results of these elections. I resign as prime minister,” Zaev said during a press conference after the count but offered few details or a timeline of when he would resign, a step that must be formally approved by parliament.

The second round of local elections was held for 45 municipality heads and mayors.

In the first round, 34 were elected with The Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), the biggest opposition party, winning 22 cities.

Zaev’s Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) won nine, the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) won in three cities.

The principal battleground between left and right is the capital Skopje, which accounts for almost one-third of North Macedonia’s population of 2 million.

Outgoing centre-left Mayor Petre Shilegov is being challenged by Daniela Arsovska, an independent endorsed by the centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party.

Arsovska led with 37.2% of the vote to Shilegov’s 35.1% two weeks ago. If VMRO-DPMNE wins in the capital, it can challenge the government’s demand for snap elections.

Zaev was first elected in 2017 after 10 years of right-wing rule led by strongman Nikola Gruevski whose government was shaken by a huge wiretapping scandal revealed by Zaev himself.

In 2018, Zaev struck a challenging name change deal with Athens, which was a precondition to paving the way for potential NATO and EU membership.

However, Bulgaria has now vetoed the beginning of talks over disputes of the origin of language and certain historical events.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr, Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe