“Government is the reason for all our setbacks and national disappointments. This is a voice against injustice and bad living conditions. There has to be a change,” opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski told the rally.
Annual inflation in the tiny Balkan country of around 1.8 million rose for the ninth straight month in May, reaching a 14-year high of 11.9%, from 10.5% in April. With an average monthly wage of around €480, unions are urging the government to raise at least 10%, arguing that current income cannot cover basic needs. Food and energy prices have risen by 30% to 50% since the start of the war in Ukraine in February.
The ruling Social Democrats replied that they oppose early polls, accusing VMRO-DPMNE and its leader of protesting solely for “personal and party interests”.
“Instead of being constructive and cooperative, Mickoski is misusing every major process in an effort to make a small political gain,” the ruling party said in a statement.
Mickoski said the government is unable to stop the daily rise in the cost of living and tackle deep corruption.
The opposition leader also warned the government that his party “will not accept any humiliating agreement that harms our national interests”. He referred to a possible deal with Bulgaria that could unblock North Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union.
Bulgaria has vetoed consideration of North Macedonia’s EU membership application, requesting that a reference to a Bulgarian minority be included in the constitution, formally recognizing that the Macedonian language has Bulgarian roots and supposedly eradicate anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. North Macedonia says its identity and language are not in question and that the solution should be based on European values.
The protest ended peacefully.