Monday, February 08, 2010

Opposition parties in Macedonia join forces

Twelve political parties in Macedonia signed a co-operation agreement last week with the common aim of toppling Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the coalition making up his ruling VMRO-DPMNE government.

"Our utmost objective is to defeat the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition," said coalition leader Branko Crvenkovski as the new bloc was announced in Skopje on February 1st. Crvenkovski, a former Macedonian president, said the wide range of parties have put their differences aside for the good of the nation at a critical time.

Symbolically called The Front, the multiparty union is led by Crvenkovski's Social Democratic Union for Macedonia (SDSM). The coalition is comprised of a wide range of current allies and former rivals -- from the left, the ultra-left and communists, to the dominant centre.

Their single aim is to topple the ruling centre-right coalition, which has been in power since the parliamentary elections of July 2006. Observers are generally sceptical that The Front will accomplish its goal anytime soon, pointing to polls that suggest the Gruevski government remains very popular with the public.

The Liberal Democrats -- vehemently criticising Gruevski while continuing their challenges to Crvenkovski -- did not join The Front. Also declining was the Democratic Party of Albanians, led by Menduh Thaci.

Ljube Boskovski, 49, is a former interior minister in Gruevski's ruling government. Acquitted of war crimes in connection with the 2001 torture and murder of ethnic Albanians in the village of Ljuboten, Boskovski is now a fierce critic of Gruevski.

New Alternative leader Gjorgi Orovcanec spoke to the crowd at the signing of the multiparty agreement, saying that the Gruevski government had not delivered on any of its promises.

"We do not have any investments, we do not have any money, we do not have any production, we do not have any friends."

Gruevski would not comment on the challenge now rallied against him, saying only that he has no fear of losing power.

Analysts have pointed out that only a small number of voters lean towards most of the parties who have signed on to The Front.

Professor Jove Kekenovski says the united opposition's impact is mostly psychological, while political expert Albert Musliu applauds a consolidated opposition as a corrective to the current government.

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