Zoran Zaev, the Prime Minister of North Macedonia has resigned on Sunday (31 October) after his party failed to secure a majority in the second round of local elections, including major seats like the capital of Skopje.
Speaking at a press conference last night, Zaev said, “I take responsibility for these developments. I resign from the post of prime minister and party president.” He did not give a timeline for the resignation which will require parliamentary approval.
While Zaev said his departure does not have to result in a snap election, this could well be the case if the ruling coalition fails to agree on a new candidate for prime minister and are unable to form a government.
Leader of opposition VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickoski, which has swept to victory in multiple municipalities, has called for a snap election.
Zaev is known for his pro-EU stance and was involved in brokering the historic deal with Greece that saw “north” added to the country’s name, paving the way for EU accession. The move resolved a long-running dispute with Greece who consider Macedonia to be the name of one of their provinces. Shortly after the agreement, Greece removed its veto on North Macedonia’s NATO accession and the country joined.
EU dreams were dashed last year however when neighbouring Bulgaria vetoed the continuation of accession talks. This was due to issues regarding the constitution, a lack of recognition and rights for the Bulgarian minority, and various other issues relating to history, culture and language.
The results of the election demonstrate a shift from the centre-left, towards more conservative governance led by VMRO-DPMNE.
Preliminary evidence from the elections suggests that Skopje will go to independent candidate Danela Arsovska, who was backed by both VMRO-DPMNE and the Albanian opposition party.