Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov named veteran conservative Nikola Gruevski as PM-designate

January 9, 2017 9:10 pm

Macedonia’s former prime minister and leader of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski (Photo by AFP)

Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov has asked Nikola Gruevski, a former prime minister with a controversial track record, to form a new government in the Balkan country.
Gruevski was named Macedonia’s PM-designate on Monday, nearly a month after his conservative party won a narrow victory in the December 11 election.
“We will try to form a government but not at any price,” the veteran politician said after the nomination.
Gruevski will have 20 days to win approval for his cabinet and if he fails, the Social Democrats (SDSM), who lost the elections by a two-seat margin to Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party, will be tasked with forming a government. The VMRO-DPMNE party has 51 deputies in Macedonia’s 120-seat parliament.
Gruevski was in office for nearly 10 years, but cleared the way for elections after he failed to handle the aftermaths of a mass wiretapping scandal, which erupted in February 2015 and plunged Macedonia into a deep political crisis.
In January 2016, Gruevski handed power to a caretaker government after opposition allegations that he and his counter-intelligence chief had tapped the phones of more than 20,000 people.
It was the European Union which stepped in and brokered a deal between the four main political parties in the country in a bid to resolve the stalemate.
The neck-and-neck result of the recent election was a boost for Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian minority parties. They have currently 20 deputies in the legislature, giving them the position of a kingmaker in the country’s political hierarchy.
Reports have indicated that the mainstream parties have agreed to a demand by the ethnic Albanians, who make up around a quarter of Macedonia’s population of 2.1 million, to recognize the status of their official language on a national level.
Macedonia, a former Yugoslav republic, has been struggling to join the EU and the NATO military alliance over the past years.
Greece is a main obstacle in the way of Macedonia’s accession to the EU as Athens has a northern region also called Macedonia.
The Greek government has insisted that the name dispute should be resolved before Macedonia can join the 28-nation bloc. 
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