Opposition determined to topple Zaev's government in North Macedonia

Opposition parties tried several times on Thursday to hold a no-confidence vote in Zoran Zaev's government – but their inability to muster a quorum left them unable to proceed.

A bid to topple the government of Zoran Zaev in North Macedonia appeared to have stalled on Thursday afternoon, after the opposition failed by one MP to muster a quorum for the vote to take place. MPs from the ruling parties all absented themselves from the chamber.

In a nail-biting atmosphere, the opposition mustered only 60 legislators for the expected vote, one short of the minimum of 61 MPs in the 120-seat parliament needed for the vote to take place.

Key to the failure of the vote was the behaviour of MP Kastriot Rexhepi from the small ethnic Albanian BESA party.

Just before the session started, he said he had changed his mind and would not attend the session.

“For the good of processes and amid strong signals from our strategic partners, the US and the EU countries, which I received from high-ranking diplomatic representatives, I decided not to attend the session,” Rexhepi wrote on Facebook.

North Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who announced his resignation over poor results in a local vote last month, told media that he would respect his party’s decision.

“I expect the democratic majority to stabilise, especially the majority that is for the EU, for a multiethnic society,” he was quoted by Kanal 5 television as saying.

Zaev, who also quit as head of the SDSMparty over its defeat in mayoral elections in towns, including the capital Skopje, had said the ruling coalition could pick a new prime minister without the need for a new general election.

But he did not formally submit his resignation to parliament.

His Social Democrats led an alliance that squeaked to a narrow victory ahead of VMRO-DPMNE in a parliamentary election last year.

Zaev first became prime minister in 2017 and put the country on a path towards EU membership by agreeing to add “North” to its name to resolve a decades-old dispute with Greece, which has a province called Macedonia. / Argumentum.al with euronews and Birn