The pre - electoral political scene in Macedonia is analyzed by Ibrahim Mehmeti for the "AIM" news pool on July 19, 1998.

Three months before the announced date of the parliamentarian elections in Macedonia, the political parties are in full swing with their preparations for the electoral race which is expected to be much fiercer than the two previous ones.

The first electoral impulse in Macedonia was given by the two largest Albanian political parties in Macedonia, PDP, which is participating in the coalition government and the DPA, which is in opposition and which has left the Prliment a few months ago. The PDP leader Abdurahman Aliti has announced the possibility that the two parties, which have been in political conflict for the last four years, come forth at the next election with a joint electoral list for the proportional part of the combined electoral model, which the DPA immediately accepted.

As far as the majority part is concerned, it is quite clear that the two parties will participate by themselves. Unofficially the joint participation in the proportional part of the elections is explained by the fact that the division of the Albanian vote could hurt the voters (and the parties, of course), and the Albanians could get one or more parliamentarians less than they would with joint list. A possible problem could be the division of the electoral spoils after the elections are over. What has caused the stir and the excitement concerning this partial electoral coalition is undoubtedly its ethnic dimension, which is gathering in intensity since the beginning of the Kosovo crisis.

The electoral excitement has caught the Macedonian political camp too, which is quite stirred after the unexpected moves of the coalition government under the strong influence of SDSM. Firstly, the government announced that for the next school year, all students will receive free books, while all students who gain minimal number of points will be awarded automatic entry to the university. Only a few days after this move which left the opposition speechless, the prime minister announced that all pensioners will get a 10 percent advance with their June pension (distributed in July.

The SDSM moves which undoubtedly secure it a large number of votes, has simply forced the Macedonian opposition to enter coalition discussions. VMRO-DPMNE, the largest opposition party, which is out of Parliment since 1994, and the Liberal Democrats, have recently announced a possibility of a coalition for the next elections.

No matter what the outcome of the agreement will be, a dilemma remains how will the old "ideological" accounts be settled between VMRO-DPMNE and the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of the Petar Gosev - Stojan Andov duo, who were, up until recently, fierce enemies of the young and uncompromising leader of the VMRO-DPMNE Ljupce Georgijevski.

The biggest unknown factor for the so called large parties is the appearance of a new party, the Democratic Alternative, lead by former member of the SFRY collective Presidency, Vasil Tupurkovski. His renewed political activity has brought in sleepless night in the analytical departments of the political parties, having in mind that Tupurkovski received more than a million votes when SFRY Presidency elections were held in Macedonia. According to all popularity polls, Tupurkovski was always second after current president Gligorov.

Source: "AIM" news pool, July 21, 1998

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