Opposition rally calls for early elections in northern Macedonia

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SKOPJE, Northern Macedonia – Thousands of supporters of the main opposition party in northern Macedonia, VMRO-DPMNE, gathered in the center of the capital, Skopje, on Saturday night to pressure the left-wing government to call elections two years before the end of its term.

The center-right VMRO-DPMNE accused the ruling Democrat-led ruling government of clinging to northern Macedonia in corruption, ravaging the economy and allowing public health and education systems to deteriorate. He organized Saturday’s protest rally under the slogan “It’s too much! Protest for change. “

“The government is the cause of all our misfortunes and national disappointments. It is a voice against injustice and bad living conditions. There must be a change, “opposition leader Hristian Mickoski said at the rally.

Annual inflation in the small Balkan country rose by about 1.8m for the ninth month in a row in May, reaching a 14-year high of 11.9% from 10.5% in April. With an average monthly salary of around 480 euros, unions are urging the government to increase at least 10%, arguing that current revenues cannot cover basic needs. Food and energy prices have risen by 30% to 50% since the start of the war in Ukraine in February.

The ruling Social Democrats responded that they oppose early elections and accused the VMRO-DPMNE and its leader of protesting solely for “personal and party interests”.

“Instead of being constructive and cooperative, Mickoski is abusing every important process in an attempt to make a small political profit,” the ruling party said in a statement.

Mickoski said the government was unable to stop the daily rise in the cost of living and tackle deep-seated corruption.

The opposition leader also warned the government that his party “will not accept any humiliating agreement that is detrimental to our national interests.” He was referring to a possible deal with Bulgaria that could unblock Northern Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union.

Bulgaria vetoed the consideration of Northern Macedonia’s EU bid, calling for a reference to the Bulgarian minority to be included in its constitution, official recognition that the Macedonian language has Bulgarian roots, and removing alleged anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. Northern Macedonia says its identity and language are not open to discussion and that the decision must be based on European values.

The protest ended peacefully.

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