Stalemate after elections in Macedonia

After parliamentary elections in Macedonia the two strongest parties are both claiming victory. With 38.1 percent of the vote the national conservative ruling party VMRO has a narrow lead over the opposition social democratic SDSM, with its 36.7 percent. Commentators fear a protracted stalemate in this Balkan state in which the EU places high hopes.

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Dnevnik (SI) /

Macedonia facing Spanish scenario

The close result in the election does not bode well for Macedonia, Dnevnik comments:

“If there is no major change in the country's leading politicians, either new rotten compromises will be reached to seize (or maintain) power, or a political blockade in Macedonia will lead to new elections and a repetition of the Spanish scenario. Macedonia has neither much time nor room to manoeuvre. Real changes, and not just cosmetic ones, are a matter of survival. In this country a majority of the institutions - above all the media, the police and the judiciary - function on the basis of party and family ties.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

EU needs a success in the Balkans

Much is at stake for the EU in Macedonia, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung observes:

“The EU badly needs to score its first diplomatic victory in a long time in Macedonia. Its reputation and influence have dwindled in recent years. And as everyone in Europe's capitals knows, there are no plans to extend EU enlargement to the Balkan Peninsula in the foreseeable future. Instead Brussels is contenting itself with stabilising crisis interventions. But in Macedonia the EU has launched an interesting experiment: the independent prosecutors of the Special Prosecutor's Office are to act as agents of political change by sidelining corrupt old-boy networks in the system [in summer 2015 Macedonia set up a Special Prosecutor's Office with the help of the EU to investigate a wiretapping scandal]. Whether it will be successful is anyone's guess. However, Europe has an additional and very concrete interest in Macedonia having a functioning state: Skopje is the doorkeeper on the Balkan refugee route.”

Standart (BG) /

Albanians' influence unexpectedly boosted

The stalemate between the big parties could put the Albanian minority parties in the position of kingmakers and thus increase their power, Standart points out:

“And this despite the fact that because of the high voter turnout [a record 68 percent] the Albanian parties will have fewer MPs in parliament than they had before. … In the election campaign the various Albanian parties made a number of demands, ranging from the designation of Albanian as a second official language to the federalisation of Macedonia and the transformation of Macedonia into a multi-ethnic state. … Which of the two Macedonian parties comes to power lies in the hands of the Albanian parties, which will not only choose the next government with their votes, but also what policies it pursues.”