In brief

Albanian parties win 20% of votes in Macedonian election, hold key to government formation

BDI calls for new cabinet to be led by Albanian PM

BDI leader Ali Ahmeti in election campaign.
BDI leader Ali Ahmeti in election campaign. Author: BDI
The two main Albanian parties of North Macedonia won 20% of the votes in the parliamentary election held in the Balkan country on 15th July. The We Can alliance led by the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev emerged as the largest party.

In the 2016 election, Albanian parties had won a combined 18% of the votes.

We Can, with 35.9% of the votes and 46 seats out of 120, will need to enter negotiations with other parties, having failed to achieve an absolute majority. Opposition alliance Renewal, led by right-wing Macedonian nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, won 34.6 per cent of the votes and 44 seats.

Two Albanian parties took the third and fourth places. The Democratic Union for Integration (BDI/DUI, centre-right) won 11.5 per cent of the votes and 15 seats, while the Alliance for Albanians (AA, centre-right) secured 9 per cent of the ballots and 12 seats.

Another Albanian party, BESA, ran within the We Can alliance. This is the first time that an Albanian party has entered a pre-election alliance with a Macedonian party. According to preliminary information, BESA has won 4 seats. Turkish party DPT was also a member of the same alliance.

Significant too was the entry for the first time in Parliament of left-wing Levica, with 4% of the votes and 2 seats. The party opposes Albanian nationalism.

An Albanian prime minister?

During the election campaign, the BDI warned that it would not negotiate its support for either of the two major alliances if they did not accept that, for the first time in the country’s history, an Albanian filled the post of prime minister.

It is unlikely that either coalition will agree to that condition.

According to the 2002 census —the most recent one— Macedonians are the 64% of the country’s population, followed by Albanians with 25%.

The BDI and the SDSM have been government partners for the past three years. Led by Zaev, this cabinet reached the historic agreement with Greece that closed the dispute over the country’s name, which was officially renamed “North Macedonia.”