Macedonia President Sets Terms for Giving PM's Mandate

Following a day of meetings with leaders of the main political parties, Macedonia's President said he wanted proof of a parliamentary majority before handing any party or alliance a mandate to form a government.

"In other words [I want] first confirmation and proof of a majority, and then [I will give] a mandate for forming a government, as stipulated in ... the constitution," President Ivanov explained.

The statement ended the dilemma over whether Ivanov would now give the mandate to the main opposition Social Democratic Union, SDSM, led by Zoran Zaev, whose party came second in the December general elections.

The head of the winning VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, was first given the mandate but missed Sunday's deadline to form a majority.

Ivanov this time set no deadliness for party leaders, but said that if neither side can muster a majority, parliament would have to convene, opening the way for yet another early election.

In the December elections,  VMRO DPMNE won 51 of the 120 seats in parliament, while the SDSM won 49.

Either side needs the support of at least 61 MPs to have a majority. This makes both parties dependent on the support of ethnic Albanian parties who together control 20 seats.

While the SDSM had called on Ivanov to entrust them with the mandate after the ruling party failed to form a government, VMRO DPMNE has since Sunday called for early elections.

It also claimed that giving the SDSM a mandate would only destabilize the already divided country.

Ivanov said that during his talks with party leaders they had discussed all possible options, including the possible formation of a broad coalition government.

He said whoever succeeded in forming the government should...

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