Nikola Dimitrov survived the vote of no confidence, but the ruling majority was shown as weaker than expected

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Nikola Dimitrov survived the vote of no confidence in the Parliament yesterday, but the number of votes he got – 55 in favor of him remaining as Deputy Prime Minister, was 7 votes short of the nominal majority of the SDSM – DUI – BESA coalition. Aleksandar Nikoloski from VMRO-DPMNE, the opposition party which initiated the vote of no confidence, said that this was the first step toward bringing down the Zaev Government and that the next vote of no confidence will be over Zaev’s major corruption failings.

The key question we need to ask ourselves is why did the ruling majority lose seven votes and was only able to procure 55 votes in favor of Nikola Dimitrov. This opens serious questions about the viability of the Government, Nikoloski said.

Dimitrov was put to the vote after Bulgaria vetoed Macedonia’s request to open EU accession talks. This is a major blow for Dimitrov’s policy of appeasing the neighboring countries, making concessions on issues of national identity, with the hope that they will allow Macedonia to join the EU.

The next such vote will be aimed at Deputy Prime Minister Ljupco Nikolovski, who is in charge of fighting corruption, and Justice Minister Bojan Maricic. The two are seen as responsible for the devastating Transparency International report, which ranked Macedonia 111th in the world in fighting corruption – the worst result ever for the country.

The main problem Macedonia has is the rotting levels of corruption, from the lowest to the highest level. You can’t get the simplest task done without bribing an official, and this goes up to the biggest procurement contracts awarded by Zaev and his family, Nikoloski said.

While Dimitrov has no background in the ruling SDSM party and was actually once a VMRO-DPMNE official, Maricic and especially Ljupco Nikolovski are exceptionally close to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev. The vote on them will be a test of the internal divisions in the ruling party.