North Macedonia Parties Unite Against Election Law Reform

In what looked like a closely coordinated move, the junior partner in the coalition government in North Macedonia, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, and the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party, on Thursday submitted thousands of amendments to the proposed change to the electoral law.

The motion to change the law, submitted by smaller parties but supported by the main ruling Social Democratic Union, SDSM, envisages scrapping the current six electoral districts in favour of one single unit.

The two parties have submitted more than 6,000 amendments to the motion, however. The DUI submitted 5,000 while the rest came from the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

This means that the proposed changes will almost certainly not pass ahead of early general elections due on April 12. Parliament must disband 60 days ahead of the elections, in February.

Although the Prime Minister and Social Democrat leader, Zoran Zaev, on Thursday said the planned changes were the "best way of improving democracy", the mainly ethnic Albanian DUI clearly disagreed.

It justified its filibustering move by arguing that "a one-sided change to the election model just few months ahead of the elections could create a dangerous precedent".

VMRO DPMNE issued a similar statement, saying that such "changes should be made with a wide political consensus and as far away as possible from actual elections".

Under the current six-district proportional system, introduced in 2002, each unit elects 20 legislators from party lists of 20 candidates.

The system strongly favours the dominant parties and often costs smaller parties seats. Many smaller parties have been demanding reform for years, arguing that a single electoral unit would make it fairer and easier for...

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