President Stevo Pendarovski said after Thursday’s meeting with VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski that he gave the government mandate to SDSM leader Zoran Zaev because the deadlines for the mandate were expiring after the MP seats’ verification and considering the practice over the past 30 years.
“As of today, no political entity has secured 61 MPs, but Mr.Zaev called me yesterday and told me they are negotiating with a number of parliamentary political parties and are on a good way to securing a majority,” said President Pendarovski regarding Mickoski’s queries about the way in which he had been assured by Zaev that a parliamentary majority is already in place.
Asked whether he sought guarantees over a supposed majority, Pendarovski said no President had asked for this, except for Gjorge Ivanov, who did this on Zaev’s second attempt to get the mandate, after then-VMRO-DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski had only 51 MPs but was not required to present signatures from a majority of lawmakers.
“I believe, as President and as a person, that people, especially those who aspire to head the government of this country, must be taken at their word, because they are responsible before their party and their voters. If Mr.Zaev fails to form a government in the next 20 days, i.e. not get 61 MPs, he will return the mandate. Therefore, you cannot trick your way into getting a mandate by saying ‘I have a majority’ and then produce none after 20 days. The 61-seat majority is not established when the President gives the mandate by signatures or notarized statements, but on the day of the Parliament vote for a new government,” said Pendarovski.
The President noted that his job is to give the 20-day mandate, while it is up to the one claiming to have the majority or to produce such majority to demonstrate it in Parliament.
“Otherwise, he returns the mandate and we then continue with the second party having the most MP seats, namely the VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition,” said Pendarovski.
According to him, it is VMRO-DPMNE’s legitimate and democratic right to freeze relations with the President, adding the move has probably been provoked by a certain issue within the party.
“If Mr.Zaev fails to form a government in 20 days, I assure you that Mr.Mickoski will rush back here on the morning of the last day and seek the mandate, regardless of the frozen relations with this Office,” said Pendarovski.
The President highlighted that Zaev was the only person to call his Office regarding the mandate, which he was obliged to give within the 10-day deadline, “because otherwise the Constitution would be violated.”