The number of unemployed people in North Macedonia increased to 151,359 in September up from 101,036 in the same month last year, reported news portal SeeNews citing fresh data released by the countryʼs Employment Agency, reflecting on the effects of the coronavirus crisis on the labor market.
On a monthly comparison basis, the number of unemployed people increased by 4.6% in September, as there were 144,759 unemployed people in the country at the end of August.
New coronavirus cases have risen at an alarming rate recently, prompting the government to limit working hours of bars and restaurants.
North Macedoniaʼs government is currently implementing a fourth package of measures aimed at reducing the impact of the outbreak with incentives such as social assistance schemes for the unemployed, low-paid workers and retirees and wage subsidies for firms affected by the crisis.
Zoran Zaev will be prime minister after two-party deal struck.
Zoran Zaev will return as prime minister of North Macedonia after his Social Democrats (SDSM) and the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) agreed to form a coalition government.
The two parties announced the deal Tuesday, but didn’t reveal how the ministries will be split. Zaev said that the Democratic Party of Albanians‘ sole MP will also join the coalition, increasing its majority to 62 MPs.
SDSM scored a narrow victory in a general election in mid-July, winning 46 seats in the 120-seat parliament, just two more than the conservative VMRO-DPMNE. DUI, the country’s main ethnic Albanian party, got 15 seats.
A coalition between the same two parties led the Balkan nation from 2017 until the start of this year and won international praise for agreeing to add the word “North” to the country’s name to end a decades-old dispute with Greece.
The historic agreement paved the way for the country to join the West’s most powerful clubs. In March, North Macedonia officially became NATO’s 30th member, while that same month EU foreign ministers gave the long-sought-after green light for talks to join the bloc, together with its neighbor Albania.
Zaev promised to make a priority the implementation of reforms needed to boost the country’s EU membership bid.
“We will translate these principles into a joint government program that will fully continue to follow the path traced by the country’s NATO membership,” he said. “This is the European path, the path of economy, justice and equality.”
Ali Ahmeti, the DUI’s leader, dropped his pre-election demand for joining a coalition — that an ethnic Albanian be named premier. However, the two coalition partners have agreed that the DUI will get to appoint an ethnic Albanian as PM 100 days before the next general election. The DUI’s Talat Xhaferi will also remain as parliament speaker.
“I’m very convinced that today we did a good thing for all our citizens,” Ahmeti said in a press conference, adding that “this government will be the most successful so far.”
While North Macedonia initially appeared to handle the outbreak relatively well, its decision to ease lockdown restrictions in late May saw a sharp rise in cases and deaths. Reported daily infections rose from around 20-30 in May to more than 100 in June and since then the upward trend has continued unabated in the tiny country of around 2 million, with a mortality rate that’s the second-highest in the Balkan region, after Slovenia.
“It is our common position that the fight against the coronavirus needs to remain a top priority of public health through a comprehensive and transparent approach to management of health facilities and protection of the citizens,” Zaev said.
On Wednesday, 101 new cases were reported, the country’s highest-ever daily figure.
North Macedonia has reintroduced tough restrictions on movement after a resurgence in coronavirus cases.
The Balkan nation of around 2 million on Wednesday reported the highest number of new cases since the start of the crisis. As a result, citizens in the capital Skopje and 15 other towns and villages won’t be allowed to leave their homes between Thursday at 9 p.m. and Monday at 5 a.m.
A daily nighttime curfew has been imposed for the rest of the country from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Friday is Pentecost, a national holiday in North Macedonia, and people are banned from making the traditional visit to the graves of loved ones.
The government scrapped its coronavirus curfew only last week and allowed bars and restaurants to reopen their outdoor areas. Since then, the number of new cases has begun to rise, with 101 new cases reported on Wednesday, the country’s highest-ever daily figure. Some 2,492 people have been infected since the first case was reported on February 27, and 145 people have died.
“This new wave is a direct consequence of non-compliance with the clearly prescribed measures, but also of the delayed or weak punishment by the ministry,” said Health Minister Venko Filipche during a press conference, referring to the interior ministry led by Nakje Chulev of rival party VMRO-DPMNE. “The virus is not a joke. We should not allow ourselves to understand the danger of the virus only after we get sick.”
The rise in infections further complicates the timing of national elections, which were initially scheduled for April 12 but had to be canceled due to the pandemic.
Parties have been at odds for weeks on when to reschedule the vote, with the socialist SDSM party in favor of elections as soon as possible and VMRO-DPMNE insisting on a longer delay.
The leader of SDSM, former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, said Monday that the election will be held on July 5. However, government officials acknowledged that the date is not set and will depend on how the situation evolves.
Yet pre-election mode has already begun. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski was accused of breaking the rules by having lunch inside a restaurant in downtown Skopje.
Mickoski admitted he was sitting inside the restaurant, but blamed authorities for providing insufficient information on the rules and accused SDSM of having people follow him.