North Macedonia’s opposition failed in its bid to topple the government after ruling coalition lawmakers blocked a no-confidence vote.
The November 11 vote was a temporary victory for the government, which has been weakened by poor results in municipal elections. The deepening impasse threatens to plunge the country into outright political crisis.
The opposition bloc pushed the confidence motion against Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s cabinet, saying it had secured 61 votes in the 120-seat legislature. But only 60 lawmakers attended the session, one short of the required quorum of 61.
The lawmaker who did not attend comes from a smaller ethnic Albanian party that is in the opposition.
Technically, the deadline for the vote expires at midnight.
But Kastriot Rexhepi, who earlier backed the no-confidence motion, wrote on Facebook that he had decided not to participate in the vote because he thought that toppling the government would create problems for North Macedonia on the international stage.
The tiny Balkan country is hoping to start EU accession talks.
The opposition, led by the VMRO-DPMNE party, said earlier that if Zaev loses the vote they would try to form a new government before heading to an early election.
After a poor showing by Zaev’s Social Democrats in municipal elections in October, the prime minister pledged to resign.
That announcement came after months of Zaev’s struggles to keep afloat the country’s pandemic-hit economy amid stalled accession talks with the European Union.
Analysts say that the former Yugoslav republic is heading into a potentially lengthy political crisis with no clear outcome.
Elected prime minister in 2017, Zaev is best known for the deal he struck with Greece to change the country’s name to North Macedonia — in order to distinguish it from the Greek province of Macedonia.
The change enabled the country to join NATO and was a precondition for EU membership.
With reporting by dpa and AFP