The Assembly, or the Sobrania, is the only chamber of Parliament and comprises 123 members. The Assembly members are elected by proportional representation for a four-year term in office. In general elections, Macedonia is divided into six constituencies electing 20 MP’s each. 3 seats are elected by representatives of the Macedonian citizens living abroad: 1 from Europe, 1 from North America, and 1 from Asia and Australia.
Women and Minority representation
The first real changes in women representation in Parliament were reached after the 2002 elections. The percentage of female deputies rose from 7.5 percent (1998) to 17.5 percent. After the 2008 parliamentary elections, this share went further up to 32,5 percent. The rise in women participation was facilitated by the successful lobbying campaign of different women rights NGO's to secure a constitutional amendment obligating parties to include at least 30 percent women candidates in their election lists.
After the reforms necessitated by the Ohrid Agreement, minority representation has increased. From the 2006 until the 2008 parliamentary elections, the DPA was the main vehicle for Albanian representation in government, despite being the smaller of the two ethnic Albanian parties. This led to resentment with the DUI, and considerable tensions between supporters of the two parties which reached a high level during the 2008 elections, which were marred by violent incidents in the predominantly ethnic Albanian areas. After the 2008 elections, prime minister Nikola Gruevski announced that the ruling “For a better Macedonia” coalition would from now on govern in a coalition with the biggest ethnic Albanian party, which is the DUI with 18 seats. Several minority lists of smaller minorities were also part of the “For a better Macedonia” coalition, including lists of Macedonian Serbs and Turks.
Political crisis December 2012 – March 2013
The political crisis started with a disagreement over the Draft Budget for 2013. On Christmas Eve 2012 during a session of the parliament the budget was on the agenda, but the main opposition party Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) stated that instead of following the principles and rules commonly used during such a session, several violations were reported. Draft versions were kept away from opposition MPs including the SDSM , which were not able to get voting cards, while media representatives could not work freely in the room. After opposing the constitutional and legal breaches, scuffles broke out between members of the ruling center-right VMRO-DPMNE party and the SDSM MPs in which opposition members were forcibly evicted from the plenary room. Before this outburst of violence, all journalists had already been removed from the room, either on their own feet or dragged by policemen.
After this event the SDSM,, decided to boycott the parliament sessions, which ultimately lasted for more than two months, and threatened to derail local elections that were supposed to be held on the 24th of March 2013. The SDSM stated that it would renounce the boycott only when the local elections were held together with an early national election.
These events have triggered a succession of demonstrations in Macedonia. On February 19th a former leader of the now-disbanded ethnic Albanian separatist armed group was chosen to become the new Minister of Defense. In a reaction to this appointment, clashes took place in Skopje against ethnic Albanians of Macedonia, which was followed days later by a violent demonstration of ethnic Albanians.
The political crisis was resolved at the beginning of March, after a mediation effort by European Commission’s Enlargement Commissioner, Štefan Füle, and European Parliament rapporteur for Macedonia, Richard Howitt. The SDSM agreed on the 1st of March to return to parliament and to run in the local elections. These elections were held on March 25th and April 7th. Victory was declared by Macedonia’s ruling VMRO-DPMNE, under the lead of Nikola Gruevski.
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2014 Presidential and Parliamentary elections
On 27 April 2014 dual elections took place: both for the Macedonian president and the parliament. On 1 March 2014 it was announced that Macedonia is set to call early parliamentary elections in order to end a political deadlock sparked by the two main ruling coalition members. They cannot agree on a candidate for the upcoming presidential vote. VMRO-DPMNE rejected the idea of a mutually agreed presidential candidate. Instead they nominated the current president, Gjorge Ivanov, as their candidate. The junior coalition member DUI was angered by this and therefore demanded early general elections. The main opposition Social Democratic party (SDSM) said it would support early elections. They put Stevo Pendarovski forward as presidential candidate. Pendarovski was a serious challenge to Ivanov as he is seen as an acceptable candidate by the Albanian minority, but Ivanov got the most votes.
Ivanov’s party, VMRO DPMNE, became the biggest party, followed by SDSM. However, the opposition does not accept the results and refuses to take seat in parliament. These parties further boycotted the inauguration of president Gjorge Ivanov on 12 May 2014 and were absent at the ceremonial handing of Members of Parliament certificates on 7 May 2014.
Ruling party VMRO DPMNE will not accept “fresh polls”, as the opposition demands. This could create a political deadlock whereby parliament cannot function properly, something Macedonia experienced in the past. This is also true at the EU level. The integration process of the country is already blocked due to a Greek veto on the start of EU accession negotiations and further NATO membership but could be further complicated: a two third majority is needed to approve EU laws and implement EU integration related reforms. However, as long as Macedonian parties refuse to resume the political dialogue a two third majority is not feasible.
Result of 2014 Presidential elections
% of votes First round (turnout 48.86%)
|% of votes Second round (turnout 54.36%)|
|Gjorge Ivanov (VMRO-DPMNE)||51.69||55.27|
|Stevo Pendarovski (SDSM)||37.51||41.14|
|Illijaz Halima (DPA)||4.48||-|
Result of 2014 Parliamentary elections
|Party||% of votes||Seats in Parliament|
|Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM)||25.34||34|
|Democratic Union for Integration (DUI)||13.71||19|
|Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA)||5.92||7|
|Citizen Option for Macedonia (GROM)||2.82||1|
|National Democratic Revival (NDR)||1.59||1|
Early Parliamentary elections 2011
The parliamentary election in Macedonia was supposed to be held in mid-2012, after the ruling coalition won over two thirds of the parliamentary seats in the 2008 early election. However, a bitter dispute between the ruling coalition and the opposition was triggered in November 2010 and on 28 January 2011 the opposition SDSM decided to quit the Parliament. They criticized the lack of democratic capacity of the government and demanded early elections. As a consequence, early elections were held on 5 June Macedonians voted for 123 legislators in six electoral districts. More than 1.7 million people were eligible to vote. The June 5 early elections were the seventh general elections since Macedonia became independent in the 1990s and followed six years in government of Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party.
Despite the violence and tensions in the run-up to the elections, the voting passed peacefully. The elections were monitored by about 3,500 local and 330 international observers, including representatives from OSCE and ODIHR. After polls closed, Nikola Gruevski’s centre-right VMRO-DPMNE party claimed victory in all six electoral districts over the Social Democrats. The VMRO-DPMNE has won 437,665 votes or 39 percent out of total votes. However, the main opposition Social Democrats, led by Branko Crvenkovski, made a strong showing, winning 367,876 votes, or 32.78 percent.
The poor showing of several smaller parties was unexpected. In the country’s Albanian bloc, the junior ruling Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, of Ali Ahmeti remained the strongest party. According to the State Commission, the party won 114,870 votes or 10.24 percent. Its rival the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, won only 66,055 votes or 5.90 per cent. The VMRO People’s Party and the United for Macedonia party were expected to snatch a significant portion of the right-wing electorate from the ruling VMRO-DMPNE, but this did not turn out to be the case.
% of votes
Seats in Parliament
Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM)
Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA)
National Democratic Revival (NDR)
VMRO – Peoples Party (VMRO -NP)
Part for New Democracy
United For Macedonia (OM)
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Roberto Battelli, the head of the OSCE /ODIHR monitoring team said that the day of elections was “overwhelmingly positive.” “The voting was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere and the subsequent counting of votes was assessed as positive in 9 out of 10 observed counting’s.” By holding peaceful, fair and free elections Macedonia has passed an important test and showed that it meets the democratic standards of the European Union.
Talks on forming a government are expected to begin shortly. While the VMRO-DPMNE could form a majority government with the DUI, in a replay of the current coalition, it is possible that the DUI and the DPA could gather in coalition with the Social Democrats and form a government, though this scenario is less likely. Sixty-two MPs are needed to form a majority government.
Run-up to the elections
The campaign period was marked by multiple incidents and tensions between the various political parties. An investigation by journalists raised suspicions of a large scale government scheme to secure votes for the ruling party in the run-up to the early general elections.
Journalists from the national A1 TV, the country’s most popular television station, aired audio recordings of telephone conversations that they say prove the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party plot. The recordings showed that public administration employees were forced to provide lists of voters who they could guarantee would cast their ballot for the ruling party. In exchange the civil servants were guaranteed that they can keep their post or that their family or close associates will be employed. In a press statement, VMRO-DPMNE called the aired recording an “outrageous montage” that aimed to discredit them.
Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM)
Leader: Zoran Zaev
The social democratic SDSM was formed as a successor to the League of Communists in the FYROM soon after independence in 1991. From September 1992 to 1998 and from 2002 to 2006 the SDSM was the largest party in the Macedonian parliament and the main party in the government, and has shown a moderate and reconciliatory attitude towards ethnic minorities in Macedonia. Since the legislative elections of July 2006, the SDSM – embedded in the Together for Macedonia Coalition – is in opposition.
The SDSM’s support-base is historically Macedonian and particularly strong in rural areas. The leadership of the “catch all” pre-electoral coalition - with members from Vlachs, Roma, Serbs, Bosniaks and Turks – provided the party with a unique, although limited and by no means permanent, cross-ethnicity appeal. The importance of this was demonstrated in the election victory of the coalition, which benefited from a solid base of Albanian support where the opposite VMRO-DPMNE could not.
The July 2006 legislative elections constituted a disappointment for the SDSM. The “Together for Macedonia Coalition” only garnered 32 seats in the 120-seat parliament and lost its governing position to the VMRO- DPMNE. The country’s meagre economic results over the last four years can be seen as the main reason for the SDSM failure to stay in power. Besides that, the SDSM has some issues with its image as a social democratic party. It had suffered from the party’s cooperation with the Liberal Democratic Party in the “Together for Macedonia Coalition” and the painful reform measures that were needed in order to meet requirements for the EU negotiations.
After the disappointing election results of 2006, Vlado Buckovski confirmed that he would not seek another term of party leadership. On the 5 November 2006 party congress, Radmila Sekerinska, former deputy Prime Minister and Minister of European Integration, was elected new party leader of the SDSM. On 1 August 2007, former party-leader Vlado Buckovski was charged by the country's financial police with embezzling around 3 milion euros. The offence took place in 2001, when Buckovski was still Defense minister of Croatia. According to the allegation, he abused his office in a deal to procure spare parts for tanks. In May 2009, after finishing the 5-year-term of President of the Republic of Macedonia, Branko Crvenkovski returned to the SDUM and was re-elected leader of the party. He reorganized the party profoundly. On 21 April Crvenkovski announced that the Social Democrats had chosen Radmila Sekerinska as the party’s candidate for prime minister if they win the elections on the 5th of June.
SDSM is a full member of the Socialist International and a PES associate member.
New Social Democratic Party (NSDP)
Leader: Tito Petkovski
Prominent SDSM member and MP Tito Petkovski founded the New Social Democratic Party (NSDP) in November 2005. The main reason for this was that according to Petkovski, the SDSM strayed from its Social Democratic ideology. In the 2008 elections, the New Social Democratic Party joined the left-oriented SUN-coalition for Europe. It does not hold the status of member of the Socialist International
Democratic Party for Macedonian national unity - Internal Macedonian revolutionary organisation (VMRO-DPMNE)
Leader: Nikola Gruevski
The present-day Christian Democrat and anti-Communist VMRO-DPMNE lies in the historical lineage of the 1893 Macedonian patriotic revolutionaries, whose sole aim was "liberating the Macedonian people from Ottoman yoke". The party was founded on June 17, 1990 in Skopje and describes itself as a Christian Democratic party which supports the admission of Macedonia to NATO and the European Union. It is ethnically based, claiming that "the party's goals and objectives express the tradition of the Macedonian people on whose political struggle and concepts it is based."
After boycotting the 1994 Assembly elections, the VMRO-DPMNE came to power itself in November 1998 on the basis of a program of economic reform. Mr Georgievski was appointed Prime Minister and the party formed a coalition government with the Democratic Alternative (DA) and Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA). Also in this period the VMRO-DPMNE led a “government of national unity” that negotiated the ethnic crisis of 2001 by signing the Ohrid agreement. However, enduring ethnic tension and the failure/disinclination to shake off its grass roots hard-line Macedonian nationalism ultimately cost the party re-election in 2002.
It was during the negotiations for the Ohrid Agreement that the seeds of an inner-conflict were sown that, after the dismal 2002 parliamentary elections and subsequent defeat at the 2004 Presidential elections, have plunged the VMRO-DPMNE into turmoil. Two competing factions emerged which tore the party apart. The supporters of present VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikolali Gruevski formed the first faction. He was a former finance minister at the time, untainted by charges of corruption and was received by party moderates as the Great White Hope. Mr Gruevski’s tenure has seen the VMRO-DPMNE follow a generic pro-Europe, pro-“civil society” platform at the expense of its characteristic political nationalism.
Radical nationalist supporters of the previous VMRO-DPMNE leader Lubjo Georgiesvski dominated the second faction. This group strongly opposes the terms of the Ohrid Agreement, which Georgievski denounced in 2002 as an international conspiracy against ethnic Macedonians. Georgievski for a long time still managed to wield substantial influence because he took sole control over the party’s finances before being forced out of the party headship in May 2004. In June 2004 his fraction split off from the VMRO – DPMNE to become the VMRO- People’s Party.
The VMRO-DPMNE has overcome its internal struggles and became Macedonia’s largest party after the 2006 elections. It managed to expand its support base during its years in power, and won 63 out of 120 seats in the 2008 elections, granting the party’s election block an outright majority in parliament. Party leader Nikolai Gruevski after the 2006 elections became Prime Minister, and remained so after the 2008 elections. In 2009, the party had another two major successes. While the VMRO–DPMNE-led coalition "For a better Macedonia" won in 56 out of 84 municipalities, the party's proposed presidential candidate Gjorge Ivanov also won the presidential election.
Democratic Union for Integration (DUI / BDI)
Leader: Ali Ahmeti
The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI, or Bashkimi Demokratik per Integrim, BDI) of was formed 3 months before the elections in June 2002. It is the successor to the Albanian NLA - National Liberation Army, which fought the FYROM security forces in 2001 in the battles preceding the Ohrid Agreement. Although once on the black list of the American State Department for terrorism, it appears that Ali Ahmeti is sincere in his newfound commitment to the democratic process.
In 2004 the party reaffirmed its commitment to Albanian integration in a confident multiethnic Macedonia, decentralisation of power, eradication of corruption and organised crime, and for a stable FYROM integrated into Euro-Atlantic structures. Before the 2006 elections, DUI formed an electoral coalition with the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and the Democratic League of Bosniaks. This election bloc won 17 seats in parliament and DUI again became the biggest party for Albanians in Macedonia. However, the party was not invited to join the government. In protest, the party boycotted the first sessions of the parliament and staged several road blockades in the summer of 2006.
Resentment over being left out of the coalition in favour of the smaller Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) also led to tensions between the two ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia, which ultimately culminated into election violence during the 2008 parliamentary elections. In these elections, the DUI won 18 seats, again becoming the biggest ethnic Albanian party of the country. It will now become part of the new ruling coalition
Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA)
Leader: Menduh Thaci
The Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA, or Partia Demokristiane Shqipërisë, PDSH) was founded in 1995 when the youth generation of PDP politicians, led by Arben Xhaferi, who had arrived from Kosovo, broke away to form a separate party. Xhaferi’s goals included recognition of Albanians as a constituent nation, rights to language and education, proportional representation in existing institutions and the demand for a separate university in Tetovo on the border with Kosovo.
In 1998 the DPA carried its popular, radical agenda into government after forming a surprise partnership with the rightist bloc dominated by VMRO-DPMNE and in 2002 along with its former government partner went into opposition to the SDSM and DUI. Prior to the 2006 elections the DPA campaigned alone and vowed to revenge on DUI. The party collected 11 parliamentary seats and, although smaller than DUI, formed again a coalition with VMRO-DPMNE. This led to resentment with the DUI and considerable tensions between the two ethnic Albanian parties in the country, which ultimately culminated in the violent incidents marring the 2008 parliamentary vote. After this vote, the VMRO-DPMNE decided to govern with the biggest ethnic Albanian party, the DUI, and the DPA returned to opposition
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Leader: Andrej Zernovski
The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was launched in 1997 as a merger between the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party. The first leader of the LDP was Petar Goshev from the Democrats, who was also the last president of the League of Communists in Macedonia. After the local elections in 2000, the social liberal LDP for the first time entered the SDSM lead coalition “Together for Macedonia”. The party participated within the same pre-elections coalition during the latest 2006 elections.
The LDP is an affiliate member of the European Liberal Democrat and Reformist Party (ELDR) and a full member of the Liberal International
Liberal Party of Macedonia (LPM)
Leader: Ivon Velickovski
The Liberal Party was founded in 1990 under the nomenclature "Alliance of Reform Forces in Macedonia", i.e., a name and a symbol identical with the Alliance of Reform Forces of Yugoslavia, led by the then Prime Minister of Federal Yugoslavia, Ante Markovic. The LP participated in the 1992-1998 governing coalition, although contributed to its disintegration when it left in 1996 because of mounting evidence of corruption. It then merged with the Democratic Party in 1997 to form the Liberal Democratic Party.
The current incarnation of the LPM was formed in 2000 when traditional Liberal leaders Stojan Andov, Pajkovski and Danevski left the Liberal Democratic Party. Politicians such as these support a programme emphasising the economic development and market reforms of the country.
The LPM currently is a part of the VMRO-DPMNE-lead ‘For a better Macedonia’ bloc, which is currently in government, and holds 1 ministerial post.
Socialist Party of Macedonia (SPM)
Leader: Ljubislav Ivanov
The SPM was founded as a successor to the Socialist Alliance of the Working People that fell-apart in 1990. The party defines itself as a socialist party inspired by the tradition of the European Left-wing movement of the last century. In the FYROM political constellation the SPM has been a traditional pre-electoral coalition partner with the SDSM. This relationship broke down in September 2002 over the issue of the Ohrid Agreement. The SPM’s political agenda consists of a programme of furthering equality, introducing workers self-management and democratisation. In terms of foreign policy it supports the annulling of the Ohrid agreement because it considered it harmful for the ethnic working-class Macedonians, from whom it draws upon for support.
In the 2008 legislative elections the party maintained its number of seats at 3 and currently is the second largest party in the coalition government led by the conservative party VMRO–DPMNE
National Democratic Revival (NDR)
Leader: Rufi Osmani
The National Democratic Revival (NDR) is an ethnic Albanian party that was formed in March 2011. Its leader is Rufi Osmani, mayor of Gostivar and political activist since the 1990s. The NDR argues that the Albanian rights in the country are rapidly deteriorating, and urges for the speedy integration of the country into NATO and the EU. Addressing the name dispute with Greece, which holds back Macedonia’s membership bids for these two organisations, Osmani has suggested using the so-called Croatia-Slovenia model of international arbitration, which helped the two countries resolve their longstanding border dispute.
Dignity Party (Dostoinstvo Party)
Leader: Stojance Angelov
Dostoinstvo (Dignity) is a new political party led by the former police general Stojance Angelov, formed in March 2011 by the members of the former homonymic NGO, uniting ethnic Macedonian veterans from the conflict of 2001.
President of Macedonia
Gjorge Ivanov, born on 2 May 1960 in Valandovo, is the current President of the Republic of Macedonia. Ivanov finished primary and secondary school in his hometown Valandovo. At the age of 27 he moved to the Macedonian capital Skopje, which has since been his permanent residence. His professional career started in 1988, when he became an editor at Macedonian Radio and Television, the national broadcasting station. He later taught political theory and political philosophy at the Law Faculty in Skopje. In 1999, he became a visiting professor for the Southeast European programme at the University of Athens in Greece.
Ivanov became politically active since the Yugoslav era, when he pushed for political pluralism and a market economy. He is the founder and honorary president of the Macedonian Political Science Association and one of the founding members of the Institute for Democracy Societas Civilis, a leading analytical centre in Macedonia. On 25 January 2009, the strongest party in the Macedonian parliament, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, appointed Ivanov as the party’s presidential candidate for the 2009 Macedonian presidential election, which they won. On 16 April 2009, Ivanov received the presidential certificate from the State Election Commission. The main vision, which Ivanov promotes as president, is the Macedonian model of a multi-ethnic society and a Pax Europaea, a united Europe living in peace and respecting the diversity and identity of the nations of Europe.
Ivanov is married to Maja Ivanova. Together they have a son called Ivan.
Prime Minister of Macedonia
Nikola Gruevski was born on 31 August 1970 in Skopje and is Prime Minister of Macedonia since 27 August 2006. He is the leader of VMRO-DPMNE since May 2003.
After Gruevski completed primary and secondary education in Skopje, he went on to study at the St. Clement of Ohrid University of Bitola. After having graduated from the Faculty of Economics in 1994, he worked in the banking sector. In 1996 he also acquired qualifications for the international capital market from the London Securities Institute. On 12 December 2006, he obtained a Master’s degree from the Faculty of Economics at St. Cyril and Methodius University of Skopje. Gruevski founded the Brokerage Association of the Republic of Macedonia in 1998 as its president. Gurevski was Minister of Finance in the VMRO-DPMNE government led by Ljubčo Georgievski until September 2002. He was sworn in as the 7th Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia on 27 August, 2006 in Skopje.
Gruevski is married to Borkica Gruevska with whom he has two daughters: Anastasija and Sofija.
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Former President of Macedonia
Branko Crvenkovski, born on 12 October 1962 in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is a former president of the Republic of Macedonia. Currently, he is president of the largest opposition party Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM)
Branko Crvenkovski graduated from the School of Electrical Engineering from the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Computer Science and Automation in Skopje in1986. He was elected member of the Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia at the first multi-party elections in Yugoslavia in 1990 after serving for several years as head of department at the Semos company in Skopje. Crvenkovski has been at the head of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia since April 1991. He served as Prime Minister from 1992 to 1998 and from 2002 until 2004. Crvenkovski did not run for a second term in the presidential elections in March 2009. Instead, he returned to his party and was elected to be the head of the party on 24 May 2009.
Crvenkovski is married and has two children.
NGO – Research Organisations
British Helsinki Human Rights Group
Foundation Robert Schuman
Hans Boeckler Stiftung
Heinrich Boell Stiftung
International Crisis Group (IGC)
New York University Law School: East European Constitutional Review
Economist Intelligence Unit
News Agencies BBC.co.uk
Euractiv.com (Inc. article from the Centre for European Policy Studies)
Institute for War Peace Reporting
MIA news agency
Radio Free Europe /Radio Liberty
Public Sources CIA World Factbook
Republic of Macedonia Agency of Information
Macedonian State Election Commission
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Country Profiles
European Union European Commission: The EU’s relations with South East Europe
OSCE/ODHIR Election Reports
Literature Crook, Nick and Michael Dauderstädt, André Gerrits: “Social Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe” (Amsterdam:2002)
Development Strategies, Italy, and Institutional Development Consultancy, France
“Evaluation of the EC’s Country Strategy in FYR Macedonia for the years 1996-2001”
Lampe, John, R., Yugoslavia as History: Twice there was a Country, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2000
Institute for Sociological, Political and Juridical Research “Political Parties Development in the Republic of Macedonia” –, Skopje (issue 6, September 2002)