Western mediators welcomed a decision by a Macedonian court to strike down plans for early elections, in a blow to the ruling VMRO party which was the only major party registered to participate. The Balkan country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday that the dissolution of parliament had been unconstitutional, in effect halting preparations for the poll on June 5. The elections were planned as part of an EU-mediated agreement to resolve a year-long crisis. It began when the opposition alleged that Nikola Gruevski, former prime minister, and his counter-intelligence chief had arranged the wiretapping of thousands of people, enabling them to influence the media, courts and elections.
With institutions paralysed, Mr Gruevski resigned this year and agreed that a caretaker administration would take over in line with the so-called Przino Agreement. This had set out a plan for investigating the allegations.
But Brussels said conditions for credible elections had not yet been created. It also criticised the government’s failure to deliver on commitments to clean up voter lists and to foster balanced media coverage. Other parties, notably the socialist SDSM party, had refused to register for the elections, citing unreliable voter registration lists.
Pro and anti-government demonstrators have held daily protests on the streets of the capital Skopje for more than a month and the US-based Freedom House think-tank recently downgraded the status of the country’s democracy to “not free”.
Full Article: Macedonia court halts early election in blow to ruling party – FT.com.