Sunday, June 08, 2008

Macedonia Opposition Leader Steps Down

Radmila Sekerinska, the leader of the main Macedonian opposition party, the Social Democrats, is stepping down after losing the general election.

“If the party looses someone must take the responsibility. I think that should be the leader,” Sekerinska told local Alfa TV arguing that her stepping down would help the party to consolidate quicker.

Sekerinska said her decision is final. “My career cannot be more important than the success of the party in the next elections.”

The Social Democrats lost the snap polls on Sunday by winning only half of the votes than the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party did. The party won even less seats in parliament than the last polls in 2006.

During the election campaign, Sekerinska promised to secure NATO membership and obtain a recommendation for the start of European Union accession talks in six months.

Sekerinska took over the party after the Social Democrats lost the elections in 2006.

She has been a long standing prominent member of the party for many years serving two parliamentary mandates.

Sekerinska was deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs in the government of Hari Kostov. During her term, the European Council in December 2005 granted Macedonia candidate status.

Media speculate that the current vice president of the party Igor Ivanovski and the mayor of the south-eastern town of Strumica are the most likely candidates to succeed Sekerinska.

The preliminary official election results show that the Social Democrats won about 230,000 votes opposed to the ruling VMRO DPMNE which picked up more than 480,000 votes.

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