Mid-Summer election calling in North Macedonia

Leader of the ruling SDSM Zoran Zaev (C) attends the 'March for Justice' in Skopje, Republic of North Macedonia on 17 February 2020. The Macedonian parliament passed the law for Public Prosecution this weekend, after which the parliament was dismissed due to early parliamentary elections which are to be held on the 12 April 2020. After the parliament dismissal, the leader Zaev said on a press conference that he will organize a 'Justice March' meant to support the new law for Public Prosecution. He said the the Rule of Law and the EU perspectives are the only goals of his party. Zaev expects that by the passing of this law, the EU leadership will speed up the decision for access negotiations of the country in the EU. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

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North Macedonian political parties on Monday agreed to have parliamentary elections on July 15 despite a persistent level of novel coronavirus infections, a move seen as a crucial step for the country’s EU membership bid.

The elections in the landlocked Balkan country and newest NATO member will also be a test of support for the pro-EU policies of the Social Democrats of former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

After talks with Hristijan Mickoski, the head of the main opposition and nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, Zaev said the country needed a functional government to deal with the pandemic and before the autumn because of the possibility of another surge in coronavirus infections.

North Macedonia’s economy is forecast to contract 3.5% this year and is expected to return to growth in 2021.

“We cannot bear a bigger crisis than this with a technical government and without a parliament,” Zaev told reporters.

A transitional government had initially scheduled a snap parliamentary election for April 12 but postponed it. The coronavirus has so far infected 4,157 people and killed 193.

Last week, North Macedonia lifted a state of emergency introduced in March to contain the outbreak.

Later on Monday, the government asked President Stevo Pendarovski to reintroduce a state of emergency for eight days, a legal step that would allow it to adapt election laws and sanitary measures through decrees, in the absence of a sitting parliament.

“The aim … is to (ensure) that snap elections could be held in line with … health safety measures, under the conditions of a pandemic,” the government said in a statement.

Zaev resigned in January after the European Union refused to set a date for accession talks. In March, the EU said membership talks could begin with North Macedonia and Albania.

Reuters

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