The Parliament is set to meet on Tuesday, after mandate holder Zoran Zaev submitted a list of nominees for a Government. Zaev’s SDSM party counts on its 49 seats in Parliament, as well as the 10 from DUI and three from the AA coalition to reach 62 votes (61 are needed in the 120 seats Parliament). The BESA party, which initially supported Zaev to receive the mandate, said it will not join the Government, largely due to its rivalry with the DUI party. If the session begins on Tuesday, as is now announced, that would give the members of Parliament by Wednesday at midnight at the latest to hold the vote.
On Sunday evening Zaev announced the SDSM Government members, with himself as the Prime Minister. Party Secretary General Oliver Spasovski will be nominated for Interior Minister, a position he held in a technical capacity during the two Governments formed in 2015 and 2016 to prepare elections. Deputy party leader Radmila Sekerinska is nominated as Defense Minister. She has previously served as Deputy Prime Minister for European integration, and led SDSM during the ill-fated 2008 election. She has also served as Vice-President of the Socialist International.
Zaev nominated Nikola Dimitrov as the next Foreign Minister. Son of Dimitar Dimitrov, one of the leading officials of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party in the early days of the Macedonian independence, Nikola Dimitrov served as Ambassador to the United States and the Netherlands, and as advisor to President Boris Trajkovski. He switched party allegiance from VMRO-DPMNE to SDSM after being reported that he was on US State Department payroll. SDSM also holds the Finance Ministry, for which it nominated university professor Dragan Tevdovski. Another professor from the Skopje UKIM university, Renata Deskovska, is nominated as the next Education Minister. Ljupco Nikolovski is nominated to hold the Agriculture Ministry, where he was a deputy during the two technical Governments. Mila Carovska edged out Frosina Remenski, who was technical Minister for Labour and Welfare, and is nominated in her place. SDSM’s head of the Culture Committee Robert Alagjozovski is nominated for Culture Minister and Damjan Mancevski as Minister for Information Technology and Public Administration. Goran Sugarevski, head of the SDSM office in Prilep and former head of the party group in Parliament, is nominated for the Ministry for Transportation and Infrastructure. SDSM also nominated seven ministers without a department. They include electricity trader Koco Angjusev, the party’s spokesman Robert Popovski, Edmond Ademi, representatives of several ethnic minority communities such as ethnic Turkish party leader Adnan Kahil, Roma Samka Ibraimovski, then Zorica Apsotolovska and Zoran Sapuric from the Liberal Democratic Party.
Earlier, DUI announced its candidates, which include two former guerrilla commanders from the 2001 conflict, Hazbi Lika and Sadula Duraku. Lika, who was also Mayor of Tetovo, would be Deputy Prime Minister in charge of inter-ethnic relations and political system, and Duraku is nominated to the Environment department. As with the earlier disputed election of Talat Xhaferi, who was also commander in 2001, for Parliament Speaker, these two nominations received the most criticism in the public, especially considering that Duraku was charged with cutting the water supply to the city of Kumanovo at the peak of summer. He was Mayor of the northern, border municipality of Lipkovo. Other DUI candidates include Bujar Osmani who is nominated as Deputy Prime Minister for European Integrations, Kreshnik Bekteshi who is nominated in the Economy Department and Bulent Salihu in the Justice Ministry. Former Struga Mayor Ramiz Merko is proposed as minister without a department by DUI. The Alliance of Albanians nominated doctor Arben Taravari as Health Minister and Sjuhejl Fazliy as Municipal Self-Government Minister.
Zaev called on other parties, mainly BESA, to support the formation of his Government. BESA refused to do so, citing the unacceptable candidates proposed by DUI, which BESA blames for corruption and criminal links. BESA said that it will support proposals by the Government which are in the interest of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. Recent polls have shown BESA, which was formed only recently, dead even with DUI in the levels of support they receive from the ethnic Albanian voters, which lead many political observers to note that the party can only gain if it stays in the opposition. To their objections of corruption, Zaev responded that he will ask the Special Prosecutor’s Office to determine whether some of the candidates is under any criminal investigation. He added that he will consult the regular Public Prosecutor’s Office, once “it is turned into a proper institution”. Zaev also called on the DPA party, which has two seats in Parliament, to support the Government, as well as calling on VMRO-DPMNE to support the reforms that he would initiate.
“This will be an inclusive process, we want to have understanding with all, and to have as large majority in Parliament as possible for the decisions that we will make because only that woud guarantee that we have taken under consideration all aspects that will be of vital interest to the citizens of Macedonia. I send a message that we need to support the reform process, and I said that the title of my Government will be the reformist Government of the Republic of Macedonia”, Zaev said on Sunday evening, as he was announcing the SDSM candiates for the Government. He dismissed the narrow margin his Government is likely to have in the Parliament, saying that there were cases when Governments were formed with similarly thin majority.