North Macedonia’s parliament is due to accept Zoran Zaev’s resignation as Prime Minister on Thursday, after which deadlines for the formation of a new government, also led by the Social Democrats, will be set.

Zaev Steps Down as North Macedonia’s Prime Minister

North Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev announced his resignation after his party’s local election results in October. EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

The Speaker of North Macedonia’s parliament, Talat Xhaferi, was expected on Thursday to bring Zoran Zaev’s resignation as Prime Minister before MPs, in a formal procedure that would acknowledge his resignation notice, which Zaev submitted on Wednesday.

With it, the entire government will resign, and the deadlines be set for electing a new cabinet.

According to the constitution, President Stevo Pendarovski will have ten days to offer the PM’s mandate to the candidate who claims to have majority in parliament.

The PM-candidate will then have 20 days to submit to parliament his government platform and list of proposed ministers.

The candidate is expected to be Dimitar Kovacevski, who earlier this month succeeded Zaev at the helm of the main ruling Social Democrats, following Zaev’s resignation from this post.

After a politically turbulent November, which saw a failed opposition attempt to oust the government in a no-confidence vote, the ruling majority has strengthened its foothold in parliament and now has a slim majority of 64 out of 120 MPs.

Zaev announced his resignations from the party helm’s and as PM after the poor results of his party in October’s local elections.

Calling his resignation an act of moral responsibility, Zaev on Wednesday wrote in his notice to parliament that after the October elections, “due to the policies I believe in, and the democratic values I cherish, it would be politically irresponsible for me to continue leading the government on its Euro-Atlantic path”.

Zaev leaves the helm after serving as PM for four-and-a-half years. He formed his first cabinet in mid-2017, after a prolonged political crisis, which saw the ousting of the authoritarian former PM, Nikola Gruevski.

Initially applauded as the sponsor of reforms and democratisation, during Zaev’s term the country improved its Euro-Atlantic perspective by striking a friendship treaty with Bulgaria and a historic “name” deal with Greece.

But while the country joined NATO in 2020, its EU path was recently again blocked, by Bulgaria, which dealt a significant blow to Zaev’s image and pro-European course.

He was also criticized for putting too much effort into the Euro-Atlantic path, and for neglecting or not fully delivering on his promises of domestic reforms, dealing with organised crime and corruption, reforming the judiciary and improving the economy. He was also accused of lacklustre management of the health crisis.

Judging by the deadlines, his successor in the party and likely new PM, Kovacevski, is expected to form a new cabinet by mid-January the latest. It will contain many new ministers, as some of the most prominent ministers in Zaev’s cabinet have also quit. They include Defence Minister, Radmila Shekerinska, Health Minister, Venko Filipce and Social Policy Minister, Mila Carovska.

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