SKOPJE -- North Macedonia's prime minister, Zoran Zaev, who announced he would step down following his party's poor results in local elections last month, says he will stay on in the job until the political situation stabilizes.
Zaev made the announcement late on November 9 following a meeting of his Social Democratic Union's (SDSM) leadership, after opposition parties led by the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE filed a no-confidence motion in the government.
"I expect the parliamentary majority to stabilize, especially the majority that is for the EU, for a multiethnic society," he said. It was not clear how long his resignation would be postponed. The 120-seat parliament is scheduled to vote on the motion of no confidence in the government on November 11. VMRO-DPMNE has said that it and other opposition parties have secured the 61 votes in the legislature to bring down the government, while the ruling SDSM insists it will try to hold on to the support of at least 62 lawmakers. If the motion passes, President Stevo Pendarovski will have to appoint another politician who can command a majority in parliament to form a new government.
On October 31, Zaev announced he would step down both as prime minister and SDSM leader after his center-left party suffered a defeat in mayoral elections, including in the capital, Skopje.
But he insisted that the majority in parliament should continue until the next regular elections set for 2024. Zaev was elected prime minister in 2017 after 10 years of right-wing rule led by Nikola Gruevski, whose government was shaken by a wiretapping scandal revealed by Zaev. In 2018, Zaev struck a deal with Athens to add the geographical qualifier "north" to the country's official name in order to distinguish it from the Greek province of Macedonia. That was a precondition to paving the way for NATO and European Union membership, but the name change did little to settle grievances of other neighbors, including Bulgaria, which has sought to block the country's path to joining the EU.