Conservatives protest in Macedonia, demand early elections
SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Tens of thousands of conservative opposition supporters protested outside Macedonia’s main government building Saturday demanding early elections.
The conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which governed in 2006-2017, called for the demonstration saying the left-wing government has taken “apocalyptic” moves during its year in power.
The leader of the party, Hristijan Mickoski, said the protest was “the beginning of the end” for the current government and called for early elections to be held next March or April. He said a government of technicians should be formed to govern until the elections.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev took power in May 2017 after 11 years of conservative rule amid a deep political crisis sparked by a wiretapping scandal in 2015.
Conservatives argue his government is incompetent, has devastated the economy, lowered wages and pensions and allowed corruption to flourish.
“A year of political terror, economic failures, and the creation of a rotten society has passed. Young people are scattered all over the world because of disappointment,” Mickoski said.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, a senior official of the Social-Democrats party, said before the protest that the left-wing government has spent its year in office working to rebuild Macedonia after 11 years of conservative rule.
“We are making fundamental changes in our country, changes that release the captured state, changes that bring justice and confidence to the institutions,” Spasovski said. “With these changes, we correct the decade of damage and trauma that was committed against the citizens, the nation and our Republic of Macedonia.”
Mickoski’a party also says Zaev’s government has damaged national interests by negotiating with Greece over a possible new name for the country, which was once part of the former Yugoslavia.
Macedonia and Greece have been at odds for decades over Macedonia’s name, which Greece claims implies aspirations to take over the northern Greek province with the same name.
Mickoski said his party would never support altering the constitution to change the country’s name from the Republic of Macedonia.
The name dispute has resulted in Greece blocking Macedonia from joining NATO and the European Union, and the current government has been struggling in negotiations with Greece to find a solution.