There could be an early parliamentary election in Macedonia in the spring, or opposition attempts to take down the ruling coalition even sooner, if in December Greece blocks the EU from giving Macedonia a start date for its accession negotiations, local media speculate.
The prime minister and head of the main ruling centre right VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, is mobilizing its party members in expectations of such developments, the A1 TV said on Tuesday.
The TV presented a memo signed by Gruevski that is allegedly circulating the party in which he calls them to “once again mobilize and intercept the attempts of the transition politicians to take power”.
This is a term often used by the party to describe the opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski who marked much of Macedonia’s transition years from a socialst to capitalist society during the 1990s.
VMRO DPMNE did not comment the memo.
Last weeks’ meeting between Crvenkovski, who leads the Social Democrats, SDSM and Ali Ahmeti, the head of VMRO DPMNE’s junior coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI only adds to the early election speculations.
Both parties came up with a thin joint statement after the meeting saying that they agreed that Macedonia should speed up the ongoing UN sponsored talks for resolving the 18 years old name spat with Greece.
Crvenkovski later announced that his party has a plan for acting in case of a Greek blockade.
But the Dnevnik daily speculates that both leaders tackled the possibility for early polls.
“The ruling VMRO DPMNE and the main opposition Social Democrats, SDSM already started staging meetings with voters”, the daily says to support its thesis.
Last year, Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession over the 18 years-long spat. Athens insists that Skopje’s official name, the Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims towards its own northern province – also called Macedonia.
A repeat Greek blockade, this time at the EU council in December can be avoided, Greece asserts, on the condition that Skopje accepts a name change. Skopje hopes to acquire a date for its EU accession talks, but Athens has reiterated that this will not happen if there is no breakthrough in the name talks.
Macedonia had an early general election in June 2008 right after the first Greek NATO blockade. Ruling centre right VMRO DPMNE then snatched a decisive victory over the Social Democrats capitalizing on the image it built as a defender of the Macedonian name.
However, the majority of ethnic Albanians, who make one quarter of the overall population, voted for the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.
The two willing parties subsequently formed a coalition government. After joining the VMRO DPMNE led coalition DUI promised its voters that the country would enter NATO by the end of 2009.
Various opinion polls have shown that the Albanian minority is not so emotionally linked with the name Macedonia and that it would rather see a speedy NATO and EU accession over the preservation of the name. Macedonians on the other hand see the name as closely linked to their national identity.