Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bid to topple Gruevski administration in Macedonia fails

Late on Thursday (June 7th), the Macedonian Parliament rejected a no-confidence motion against the VMRO-DPMNE-led government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Some 65 MPs rejected the motion, while 43 supported it.

After a full day of discussion, Gruevski addressed the MPs shortly before midnight. He characterised the motion, filed by the main opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, as an attempt to destabilise the country at an important juncture.

Macedonia is close to receiving an invitation to join NATO, Gruevski said, and should concentrate on stepping up reforms rather than wasting time on such votes.

Opposition lawmakers criticised the Gruevski administration on many issues, charging it with weakening the country's bids for EU and NATO integration and showing poor results in economic reform. A GDP of only 3.5% has been achieved, compared to the promised 6% to 8% rise, Gruevski's critics said.

The government was also criticised for its draft bill on the public prosecutor, for failing to complete the Judiciary Council, and for poor co-operation with President Branko Crvenkovski.

The prime minister countered these accusations by listing the new investments Macedonia has attracted in the last months. Macedonia is undergoing a strong investment cycle due to a more favourable business environment and lower taxes, he argued.

Deputies who supported Gruevski noted his administration has faced no corruption scandal during its nine months in office. Ruling majority MPs cited a strengthened fight against corruption, reduced bureaucratic red tape, a decrease in debts owed to foreign banks, and an increase in exports as some of the administration's achievements.

Essentially, the vote was a test to see whether Gruevski still commands a parliamentary majority, following the recent period of turbulence within the ruling coalition. A junior coalition partner, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), had earlier threatened to leave the cabinet after Gruevski hashed out a deal with the largest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union of Integration.

Nevertheless, the DPA sided with the government Thursday. So did another coalition partner, the New Social Democrats (NSDP), even though party leader Tito Petkovski criticised Gruevski for ignoring the NDSP's programme.

Gruevski and his administration have been given the chance to move forward, and the prime minister is pledging to do so in an honest and diligent manner. By law, his opponents cannot file another no-confidence motion for three months.

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