At a session on Friday, the Macedonian government led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski faces a no-confidence vote put forward by the opposition.The outcome of the vote is uncertain, as the junior ruling Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, refused to say clearly before the session whether it will support the government led by Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE.
“Right now, we too are not quite sure what will happen tomorrow” said Suzana Saliu, an DUI legislator, on Thursday adding to the uncertainty.
The government needs at least 62 votes in the 123 seat parliament in order to survive. But Gruevski’s centre right party on its onw has only 53 MPs and needs the support from the DUI.
The opposition Social Democrats filed the interpellation motion earlier this week hoping to reveal what they see as “a fake confrontation between the government partners… that jeopardizes the inter-ethnic relations” and the country’s integration towards EU and NATO.
The government crisis started in mid-August when the Defence Minister, Fatmir Besimi, an ethnic Albanian from the DUI party, laid flowers before a monument to Albanian guerilla fighters killed in the 2001 conflict in Slupcane, a village near the northern town of Kumanovo.
This act outraged many Macedonians, and President Gjorgje Ivanov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski both criticized Besimi.
The crisis then intensified when the VMRO DPMNE soon after tendered the draft law on the miitary, prompting the DUI to threaten to leave the government.
The draft provides special rights to army and police veterans from the 2001 armed conflict but ignores the former Albanian insurgents whose leaders are now at the helm of DUI.
The opposition says the parties in power are faking the crisis in order justify early elections and win playing on the ethnic sentiment of their Macedonian and Albanian voters.
There are speculations that the elections could take place at the end of this year or in March 2013, at the same time as the local elections.
The parliament has the entire day for discussion and must vote by the end of the day.
One other option that Gruevski has if he is sure in his support is to try to preempt the opposition by asking for a confidence vote himself. In that case, the legislators would go straight to voting, without any discussion taking place in the parliament.
If the government does not survive, the Prime Minister is obliged to hand over the mandate to the Head of State within 24 hours. The president will then decide whether he will give it to someone else or call the elections.
This is the first no-confidence vote against Gruevski’s current government that was formed after his party won the June 2011 snap polls.
Gruevski who is in power since 2006 today faces the second interpellation motion in his Prime Minister’s career. He survived the first one in June, 2007.