Small Albanian Parties Ready to Boost Macedonian Govt

Smaller Albanian parties in Macedonia say they are willing to bolster Zoran Zaev’s government with their support but petty quarrels between them could undermine the move.
 Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev with his cabinet. Archive photo: MIA

Up to ten MPs from smaller ethnic Albanian parties could soon boost the government’s narrow majority in parliament, but settling their petty feuds so that they can all join his administration poses a challenge for Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

The first problem is an ongoing split between members of the small opposition BESA party who together control five MPs in the Macedonian legislature.

Although both factions – who both insist they are the true BESA – say they would consider joining Zaev’s government, one says it is not willing to share space in his administration.

The BESA faction led by Afrim Gashi, which controls three MPs, was adamant that it would not share power with their former colleagues from the rival faction.

“If there was any room for cooperation with them, the split would not have happened,” said Orhan Murtezani from the BESA faction led by Gashi.

The other part of BESA, however, which controls two MPs and is led by Bilal Kasami, sounded more conciliatory.

“We would not mind if Gashi’s BESA joins the government, considering that [one of BESA’s primary opponents in the ethnic Albanian bloc], the Democratic Union for Integration is already there,” an unnamed high-ranking official from the faction told the Plus Info news website on Monday.

But the same source was categorical that they would mind if another small opposition party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, and its three MPs, joins the government.

The DPA also hinted at its readiness to join the government after Zaev over the last weekend told media that he is working to boost parliamentary support for his administration soon. Unnamed high-raning sources from the DPA told Telma TV they were willing to consider joining Zaev. 

Another party, the Alliance for Albanians, which effectively controls two out of its three MPs, also said it was willing to consider rejoining Zaev’s government after leaving it just after the October local polls.

“We have not received a concrete offer,” a senior member of the Alliance, Arben Taravari told media on Tuesday.

“If we get an offer from Zaev for joining the government, the party will consider it,” he added.

However, it is very likely that the Alliance would also strongly object to the DPA taking a role in the administration.

The Alliance party, led by Zijadin Sela, a DPA defector, has repeated several times in the past that it wants nothing to do with the DPA.

Political analyst Albert Musliu said that it is obvious that all of the smaller Albanian parties are interested in joining Zaev’s government.

He said he is optimistic that Zaev can convince all of them to join him as their positions have been weakened after the October local polls and by internal party quarrels.

“The vanity and the hard words won’t pose a problem for the functioning of this coalition, but it is up to the prime minister to find ways to manage all of this. Everything can be overcome if there is an interest [in doing so],” Musliu said.

Zaev’s government currently rests on a majority in parliament of just 61 MPs in the 120 seat assembly, plus several MPs who, although not officially part of the ruling alliance, recently said they would support his administration.

If Zaev succeeds convincing all the small ethnic Albanian entities to overcome their quarrels, he could hope for a significant boost in support, which could exceed 70 MPs.

This could also make parliament more efficient by eliminating ongoing problems with assembling a quorum at parliamentary sessions.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic