Starting Gun Fires For Macedonia Election

Macedonia's election campaign formally started on Monday and over the next 20 days the parties will be holding rallies and round tables and trying to visit as many places as they can.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, and its ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, are keeping the slogans of their inaugural rallies under wraps for now.

VMRO-DPMNE plans to hold its first rally in the lakeside town of Ohrid, where it traditionally begins its campaigns. The DUI is starting its campaign in the rural municipality of Lipkovo.

Gruevski who came to power in 2006, and whose government was shaken in early 2015 by revelations of the illegal wiretapping of thousands of people, is seeking a new mandate.

He argues that his government boosted the economy and improved the welfare of ordinary people despite a deep political crisis, which he says was imposed by the opposition.

The DUI's main point is fuller implementation of the 2001 Ohrid framework Accord, which ended a six-month civil conflict in the country by granting more rights to ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the population. The DUI leader, Ali Ahmeti, has promised to make Albanians in Macedonia fully equal after the elections.

The main opposition Social Democratic Party, SDSM, has departed from its tradition of starting its campaigns in the capital, Skopje, and has decided to hold the first rally in the town of Prilep.

While the party has not yet unfurled its election slogan, it previously promoted its platform under the motto, "Plan for Life in Macedonia".

The party accuses VMRO DPMNE of undermining democratic freedom, corruption and illegal wiretapping, and pledges to...

Continue reading on: