European Western Balkans

Gruevski no longer honorary president of VMRO-DPMNE

SKOPJE – As part of a push to “democratise” the party and change its image, the former ruling VMRO-DPMNE party has scrapped the post of honorary president – which means that the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski no longer holds it, Balkan Insight reports.

The party did not comment on the reasons for this move.

The symbolic cutting of ties with Gruevski, who was the party’s leader from 2003 to 2017, comes alongside other changes to the party statute that the party said would “democratise” its functions and transfer more power to the membership and the local party committees.

In 2018, Gruevski was sentenced for a two-year jail sentence for the illicit purchase of a luxury car while in office. However, he fled the country and was granted asylum by the Government of Hungary.

At the same session, the party, now led by Hristijan Mickoski, limited the number of terms that its leader can stay in office to a maximum of three.

“Mickoski is the first party leader in the Balkans limiting his term, taking the example of Austria’s People’s Party,” the party said in a press release.

Following the election on 15 July, in which VMRO-DPMNE dropped from 455,000 votes to 315,000, some members of the party are demanding Mickoski’s resignation, Meta reports.

SDSM, led by Zoran Zaev, also lost about 100,000 votes compared to its 2016 result. The turnout was 15% lower than in the last parliamentary election.

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