For the first time in Macedonia, two longtime political opponents join forces.
By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 06/08/12
Menduh Taci, (left), leader of the Democratic Party of Albanians, and Branko Crvenkovski, leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, will join forces for the upcoming local elections in Macedonia. [Tomislav Georgiev/SETimes]
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), traditional political opponents, announced last month they will form the first multi-ethnic coalition before the local elections in March 2013.
According to Branko Crvenkovski, SDSM leader, the coalition has three areas of concern: the disastrous economic situation, blockage of the European and Euro-Atlantic integration process, and the democratic process.
"We agreed on technical collaboration in municipalities where, due to the ethnical structure of the population, it will be impossible for an ethnic Macedonian candidate to win, which also includes SDSM candidates. We will support the candidate promoted by DPA and vice versa," Crvenkovski said after a meeting with Menduh Taci, DPA leader.
Crvenkovski said that despite the differences between the two parties, "which chiefly refer to inter-ethnic relations and the Ohrid Framework Agreement, we stand united against the current government."
"This collaboration might have scared the government, but I am sure it will receive the Albanians' support since it was transparent in its arrangement," Taci said.
"This is a bold move. Proof that the country's democracy is slowly maturing and that the politicians' mentality is changing. There is nothing wrong in announcing the support before [elections]. So far, in the last 20 years, we've never had a government without the participation of an Albanian party," Albert Musliu, executive director of the NGO Association for Democratic Initiatives in Skopje, told SETimes.
Mersel Bilalli, professor at the FON University in Skopje and a former MP, said that only SDSM will profit from the coalition because of the high dissatisfaction among the Albanian population with the current ruling party VMRO-DPMNE.
"I don't think this will be an incentive for the opposing side to announce its pre-electoral coalition, or that the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), [ruling partner coalition partner] would invite its members to vote for VMRO-DPMNE's candidates," Bilalli said.
"Albanians should not repeat the 2006 election, when the loser illegitimately represented them," Artan Grubi, chief of cabinet to the President of DUI, said. He noted that in 2006, VMRO-DPMNE, with DPA, shaped the government, despite that DUI won more parliamentary seats.