European Western Balkans

Zoran Zaev submits his resignation, new Government expected within a month

Zoran Zaev; Photo: The Government of North Macedonia

SKOPJE – Zoran Zaev submitted yesterday his resignation from the position of Prime Minister of North Macedonia to the Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi. Zaev first announced his resignation following the defeats his party suffered in October local elections.

“With my resignation, I want to set an example to recognise virtuous decisions when necessary and thus make another contribution to strengthening the democratic capacity of the people, but also to future leaders to be aware of their civic duty when they take care of their country,” Zaev said in a letter to Xhaferi, META reported.

The parliament of North Macedonia is expected to accept Zaev’s resignation today. President Stevo Pendarovski will have a 10-day deadline to appoint a new Prime Minister who would form a new government and program within 20 days.

It is already certain that the Prime Minister-designate for the formation of the next government will be the newly elected president of Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), Dimitar Kovacevski, META reports. According to the legal deadlines, the entire procedure for electing a new government will have to be completed by the end of January 2022.

Zaev became the leader of SDSM in 2013. He first became Prime Minister of Macedonia in 2017, ending the 10-year rule of Nikola Gruevski and VMRO-DPMNE party. He oversaw the signing of the Prespa Agreement with Greece, that led to the change of the country’s name.

Following the failure of the European Union to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia in October 2019, due to the veto of France, Zaev resigned as the Prime Minister for the first time, triggering snap parliamentary elections. His party came in narrowly first over VMRO-DPMNE.

In 2021 local elections, however, SDSM’s 57 wins from four years ago were reduced to only 16. Zaev announced his resignation as Prime Minister and SDSM leader, taking responsibility for the results.

The loss of SDSM has since been interpreted in at least two ways – as a backlash against the government betting on the accelerated EU integration, which never materialised; as well as voters’ disappointment with the government’s record on reforms.

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