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Spring date formally set for North Macedonia parliamentary, presidential elections amid EU bid

SKOPJE, North Macedonia — SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — North Macedonia ’s parliament speaker on Wednesday formally set early parliamentary and presidential elections in the spring as the country makes a bid to join the European Union.

Following opposition pressure, North Macedonia’s main political parties agreed in December to organize general elections on May 8, two months early. A caretaker government was appointed last month.

Whoever forms the next government will face pressure from the European Union to approve unpopular constitutional changes as part of the country’s bid to join the bloc.

The main opposition center-right VMRO-DPMNE party had long pressed for early elections, accusing the governing center-left Social Democrats and their junior coalition partners of corruption, nepotism and incompetence.

Under the act signed Wednesday by parliament’s top official, Jovan Mitreski, the first round of the presidential election will be on April 24. The second will coincide with the May 8 parliamentary election.

North Macedonia, together with neighboring Albania, began EU membership talks in 2022 and has been a candidate to join the bloc since 2005.

Among other required membership criteria, the country must change its constitution to recognize an ethnic Bulgarian minority. That’s a highly contentious issue because of the overlapping histories and cultures of North Macedonia and neighboring Bulgaria.

Constitutional changes require a two-thirds majority in parliament.

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