Right-wing VMRO-DPMNE could snatch the electoral victory from pro-European SDSM in the recent elections in North Macedonia

The general elections in North Macedonia on July 15th reveal no obvious winner: the center-left Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its alias (We Can coalition) secured 46 parliamentary seats out of 120, while its closest rival, the Renewal coalition led by the center-right to right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) has won 44 seats. SDSM, despite its recent success in progressing NATO and EU-accession talks, is facing a backlash from a fraction of voters disappointed by the change of the name of the country to North Macedonia and the delay in reforming the country’s judiciary system after the recent corruption scandal involving SDSM officials.

We consider the following constraints in the government formation process. The Albanian minority interests Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the 3d largest political party with 15 seats, retains its kingmaker status: the party considers an alliance with both SDSM- and VMRO-DPMNE-led coalitions and may be decisive for shaping the future government. Moreover, a coalition of the two leading parties is not fully excluded and could be the only way to form government without DUI. The Left (Levica) criticizes both major parties (SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE) and rules out cooperation with them. Based on these constraints and the current polls, we present our forecast of government formation in North Macedonia:

Constraints in coalition formation

Parliamentary seats (bar size) vs. strategic influence of political parties (red lines)
Predicted government coalitions (white line denotes the level of stability)

The most stable (most likely) government formation scenario implies a VMRO-DPMNE-led government in coalition with DUI and the Alliance for Albanians (AA). The less likely alternative involves a coalition between SDSM and DUI or SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE. DUI may prefer the alliance with VMRO-DPMNE, as it can expect a higher share of power in that coalition.

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