In October and November 1998, at the parliamentary elections in Macedonia, the coalition led by the Social Democratic Alliance for Macedonia (SDAM), a party made up of communists and in power since the country became independent, was defeated and was replaced by the opposition led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRO-DPMNU). This was the first time that alternance was taking place in a country of the former Yugoslavia.
The first multiparty parliamentary election had taken place in Macedonia in December 1990. At that election, the former communists, renamed Party of Democratic Reform and later Social Democratic Alliance for Macedonia (SDAM), gained 31 seats in the 120-seat parliament (Sobranje), the IMRU-DPMNU obtained 37, the Liberal Party 19 and two Albanian parties 25 (Albanians being almost a quarter of the population). The leader of the former communists, Kiro Gligorov, was elected president of Macedonia by the Assembly while the leader of IMRO-DPMNU, Ljupco Georgievski, became vice-president and the leader of the Liberal Party became the speaker of the Assembly. But these parties disagreed over the allocation of ministerial portfolios. A formally ‘technical’ government was constituted, under the leadership of Nikola Kljusev, himself an expert, but dissensions continued. The Constitution was nonetheless approved by parliament in November 1991, by a majority of 96 deputies out of 120 which also included most of the IMRO-DPMNU deputies, the opposition being mainly drawn from the Albanian representatives on the grounds that the rights of Albanians were not formally recognised.
One key problem of the subsequent six years was to be that of the recognition of the independence of the country, essentially because of the opposition of Greece, on the grounds that the name Macedonia given to the country suggested that a claim was being made on the Macedonian part of