On the 18th of August the leader of the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM), Zoran Zaev, and the head of the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), Ali Ahmeti, announced their agreement to form new government in North Macedonia.
Following the early elections on the 15th of July, the SDSM “We Can” coalition together with the DUI gained 61 MPs and has a simple majority. Another MP from the small Democratic Party of Albanians, led by Menduh Thaci, will also join the ruling majority. It has not been ruled out that some of the other smaller parties may also yet join them to strengthen the majority.
Zoran Zaev pointed out that he will be the prime minister in the full four-year mandate. However, during the last 100 days of the regular government mandate, he will hand over the prime minister’s position to an Albanian, i.e. to the one elected by the DUI.
The DUI entered the pre-election campaign with a demand for a first-ever ethnic Albanian as a prime minister. After winning in the Albanian block, they said that is their primary condition for forming a new government.
According to unofficial sources, the DUI got the Ministries of Finance & Economy and Foreign Affairs with the EU domain, and SDSM got the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Defense and Justice.
DUI senior official Artem Grubi wrote on his Facebook profile: “In addition to the prime minister, there are three Albanian foreign ministers in the region. Historical moment.”
Ali Ahmeti explained that behind the idea of an Albanian prime minister is the intention to unite the citizens and the community, not separate, as well as to send a message about Albanians taking over the responsibility for a common state.
VMRO DPMNE said that the new coalition Zaev-Ahmeti represents continuation of crime and corruption, adding that it shouldn’t be forgotten that before elections Zaev said that the DUI is not worth 5 pennies, and that DUI accused SDSM of being criminals.
Alliance for Albanians in coalition with Alternative reacted in a similar spirit. They issued a joined statement, saying that the new government does not deserve any political respect and as such it will face their 12 MPs at the Parliament who will not allow fraud and usurpation of political will.
Reactions from neighbours
Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama, welcomed the agreement between the SDSM and the DUI, emphasizing that Albanians are finally gaining political weight in North Macedonia.
Kosovo President Hashim Thaci congratulated on the formation of a new government, adding “Albanians are an important factor in decision-making and stability in North Macedonia and the entire region.”
Even though there are no official statements from Serbia, pro-government media condemned the agreement between SDSM and DUI due to the rising influence of Albanians in North Macedonia.
The agreement on the appointment of an Albanian prime minister, even for only the last 100 days of the mandate, is seen as a drastic change in the political system of North Macedonia.
While this will lead to a sort of power-sharing among ethnic groups, it can also make the government less stable, which is the case in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Following the Dayton agreement, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been divided into two entities: the centralized, mainly Serbian Republika Srpska and the Bosniak-Croat Federation. These entities share a joint state-level presidency consisting of three members, one from each ethnic group. This complicated system of government was never intended to govern the country for an extended period since it facilitates ethnic division.
Introduction of new ethnic criteria in the performance of government functions can be seen as a step towards the ethnicization of North Macedonia, and definitely as a step backwards from the European path.
Zaev still has until the 2nd of September to submit his new cabinet’s platform to parliament for approval. Parliament will have additional 15 days to discuss it and vote.