North Macedonia to hold elections on 15 July, parties agree

Photo: EPA The head of North Macedonia’s Social Democrats, Zoran Zaev

Political parties in North Macedonia agreed on Monday to hold parliamentary elections on 15 July, despite the country battles a second wave of coronavirus infections. The elections are expected to be a test of support for the pro-EU policies of the Social Democrats of former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

After talks with Kristijan Mickoski, the head of the main opposition and nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, Zaev said the country needed a functional government before the autumn when Macedonia must focus on recovering from the pandemic which may also return in force. “We cannot bear a bigger crisis than this with a technical government and without a parliament,” Zaev told reporters. He resigned in January after the EU refused to set a date for accession talks. However, Brussels in March gave green light to the membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

A transitional government had initially scheduled a snap parliamentary election for 12 April but postponed it due to the coronavirus. After reining in a small outbreak in late April, the country is now facing a surge of COVID-19, logging more than 4,000 cases and nearly 200 deaths among the population of less than two million.  Last week, North Macedonia lifted a state of emergency introduced in March to contain the outbreak.

The announcement on elections date was welcomed by the EU, whose enlargement commission Oliver Varhelyi hailed it an important signal for the country and its EU path.

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