Leader who changed North Macedonia's name fights to keep power in vote

By Aleksandar Vasovic and Kole Casule SKOPJE (Reuters) - North Macedonia voted on Wednesday in a parliamentary election that could decide the pace of its bid for EU membership, with nationalists vying to unseat the governing Social Democrats who changed the country's name to join Western institutions. The vote was originally scheduled for April but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak

Reuters July 16, 2020 00:16:49 IST
Leader who changed North Macedonia's name fights to keep power in vote

Leader who changed North Macedonias name fights to keep power in vote

By Aleksandar Vasovic and Kole Casule

SKOPJE (Reuters) - North Macedonia voted on Wednesday in a parliamentary election that could decide the pace of its bid for EU membership, with nationalists vying to unseat the governing Social Democrats who changed the country's name to join Western institutions.

The vote was originally scheduled for April but postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Voters arrived at the polling stations wearing mandatory masks.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, in office since 2017, put the country on the path towards EU membership by agreeing to add "North" to its name.

That resolved a decades-old stand-off with Greece, which had viewed the name Macedonia as a claim on its province of the same name, and had blocked its neighbour's entry into both the EU and NATO. The newly renamed North Macedonia joined NATO this year.

The opposition VMRO-DPMNE of Hristijan Mickoski opposed the name change, and also accuses Zaev's Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) of corruption and cronyism, which they deny.

Opinion polls have indicated a tight race, with one showing a narrow lead for the SDSM and another a narrow lead for the VMRO-DPMNE. Both parties have polled below 25%, meaning the winning side is almost certain to require an alliance with other groups to form a majority.

"I believe ... we have succeeded in ... convincing the people that the coalition led by SDSM is the one that will get most support,” Zaev said after voting.

Mickovski said: "The people are ready for a big change that will happen today".

Parliament dissolved in February when Zaev resigned after the EU declined to set a date for membership negotiations. A month later the EU announced talks could begin. It again set no date, but diplomats said it would likely be later this year.

An SDSM victory would be seen as lending momentum to Skopje's membership talks with the EU.

Skopje political analyst Petar Arsovski said if VMRO-DPMNE were to win, it would not abandon the deal with Greece but might try to hold up implementing some aspects, such as renaming the currency and changing uniform symbols, risking new obstacles to the EU bid.

(Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic and Kole Casule; Writing by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Peter Graff)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

Under-supplied palladium races to record, gold awaits Fed
Business

Under-supplied palladium races to record, gold awaits Fed

By Eileen Soreng (Reuters) - Palladium prices hit a record on Tuesday, spurred by persistent supply worries, while gold held a narrow range as investors awaited policy signals from the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting this week. Palladium hit a record of $2,962.50 per ounce earlier and was up 0.8% at $2,948.69 per ounce by 1:02 p.m

General Electric reports smaller cash outflow, reaffirms 2021 outlook
Business

General Electric reports smaller cash outflow, reaffirms 2021 outlook

By Rajesh Kumar Singh and Ankit Ajmera (Reuters) -General Electric's cash outflow was smaller than estimated in the first quarter even as its lucrative jet-engine business struggled with the pandemic-led collapse of air travel, driving down company revenue. The company also reaffirmed its full-year free cash flow and earnings per share outlook

Oil rises as OPEC+ seen sticking to policy despite India COVID surge
Business

Oil rises as OPEC+ seen sticking to policy despite India COVID surge

By Devika Krishna Kumar NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices edged higher on Tuesday as OPEC+ was expected to stick to existing plans to boost oil output slightly from May 1, suggesting it does not see a lasting impact on demand from India's coronavirus crisis. The group has also ditched plans to hold a full ministerial meeting on Wednesday, sources said. A technical meeting on Monday had voiced concern about surging COVID-19 cases but kept its oil demand forecast unchanged.