SKOPJE Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov said on Monday he will ask Nikola Gruevski, the veteran leader of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, to form a new government following elections last month.
Gruevski, 46, who led the ex-Yugoslav republic for almost a decade, will now have 20 days to win approval for his cabinet in the parliament.
VMRO-DPMNE won 51 out of 120 parliamentary seats in the Dec. 11 vote, while the rival Social Democrats won 49 seats. Gruevski will need to seek a coalition partner among parties representing ethnic Albanians to form the government.
In the election, Albanian voters in Macedonia shifted towards the Social Democrats in significant numbers for the first time since a 2001 interethnic conflict.
Ethnic factors appeared to have played less of a role in the vote, reducing the dangers of nationalist frictions that have beset Macedonia in the past.
Albanians make up about a third of the 2.1 million population of the country.
The Albanian DUI party, which formed the last coalition government with Gruevski, won 10 seats in parliament – a half of what it had in last election. A new, anti-establishment Albanian party, Besa, picked up 5 seats, while the Democratic Party of Albanians got 2 seats and Alliance for Albanians recorded 3 seats.
(Reporting by Kole Casule; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Jeremy Gaunt)