N. Macedonia: Pro-Western party secures coalition deal

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia’s pro-Western Social Democratic Party said Tuesday it has struck a power-sharing deal with a smaller ethnic Albanian party that will pave the way for forming a coalition government.

The agreement came a month after a national election in which the Social Democrats won the most support but didn’t elect enough lawmakers to the 120-seat parliament to govern alone.

Party leader Zoran Zaev and Ali Ahmeti, head of the Democratic Union for Integration, or DUI, told reporters in North Macedonia’s capital of Skopje they had agreed on the framework for a new government after two weeks of complicated negotiations.

Zaev’s party has 46 seats in parliament, and together with the DUI’s 15 parliament members — and the single lawmaker from a smaller ethnic Albanian party — would have a two-seat majority.

The coalition talks were complicated by DUI’s demand that an ethnic Albanian should be appointed prime minister for the first time in North Macedonia’s history — a demand flatly rejected during election campaigning by both the Social Democrats and the center-right VMRO-DPMNE party that came second in the July 15 vote.

Zaev said he would head the new government and the power-sharing deal foresees him handing the prime minister’s office over to an ethnic Albanian politician proposed by DUI a hundred days before the next election.

Zaev stepped down as North Macedonia’s prime minister in January and called an early election over the country’s failure to secure the go-ahead for European Union accession talks.

North Macedonia’s new government is expected to be approved by parliament by the end of the week.

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