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Contenders Line up to Lead Macedonian Opposition

May 10, 2013

Four candidates have declared their interest in leading the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, after Branko Crvenkovski announced that he will shortly step down.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 09.05.2013

 

Photo by: SDSM

Four people have said they will compete to succeed the longstanding Social Democrat party chief Branko Crvenkovski at the party congress on June 2.

Some 700 party delegates will choose between current party vice-president in charge of economic affairs, Zoran Jovanovski, the legislator Igor Ivanovski, the party-vice president and Strumica mayor Zoran Zaev and the former intelligence agency head Kire Naumov.

Jovanovski was the first to officially promote his candidacy last week at a press conference in front of party headquarters in Skopje, saying that he would refresh the party with younger politicians and form a shadow cabinet by the end of the year.

“If we’d had a shadow government by now, we would have been more useful to the country,” he said.

Jovanovski, an economist who has spent more than 11 years in banking, working mostly in the central bank, was appointed one of four party vice-presidents in 2009.

Naumov has also pledged to form of a shadow team of ministers. “We will offer a platform that the workers, the impoverished and the unemployed will recognize,” he said recently.

Naumovski’s name has been linked to that of the former SDSM leader, Vlado Buckovski, who has been leading a wing of the party that is highly critical of Crvenkovski.

Zoran Zaev, the charismatic mayor of the southeastern town of Strumica, a SDSM bastion in the last ten years, has also entered the race. Zaev is also another party vice-president.

He briefly led the party in 2008, holding the post temporarily until the return of Branko Crvenkovski who was then finishing his term as head of state.

The forth candidate, Ivanovski is another economy graduate. He has been a longtime legislator in parliament and is one of the most outspoken MPs. Over the years he has been a loyal supporter to Crvenkovski.

Crvenkovski announced his withdrawal following the party’s crushing defeat in recent local elections. It was the seventh such election defeat in a row at the hands of the ruling centre-right VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

A veteran of the political scene and a former Macedonian president and two-time prime minister, Crvenkovski first became head of the Social Democrats back in 1991.

After interrupting his party leadership in 2004 to serve as head of state, he came back to head the party in 2009, when he was seen as best hope of uniting it against VMRO DPMNE.

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