Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced his resignation late on Sunday following the heavy defeat of his governing Social Democratic Union in North Macedonia’s local elections.
“The responsibility for this outcome is mine and I’m resigning as prime minister and as leader of the Social Democratic Union,” Mr Zaev said at a news conference at party headquarters.
Mr Zaev came out against early national elections. Instead, he will support a Social Democrat-led government under a new leader.
Although official results were not yet in from the local elections, Mr Zaev conceded defeat in the most important contest — the mayor’s race in the capital, Skopje, with incumbent Petre Shilegov losing to a centre-right challenger, Danela Arsovska.
Candidates supported by the main opposition party, the centre-right VMRO-DPMNE, appeared set to win at least half of the country’s 80 municipalities, with the Social Democrats set to win fewer than 20.
At the last municipal elections, in 2017, the Social Democrats won 57 contests and VMRO-DPMNE only five.