Protesters in Macedonia stormed the parliament and brutally assaulted several lawmakers Thursday night in a show of anger over the deadlocked government.
In December, former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s conservative party failed to win enough votes to form an administration, leaving Macedonia’s parliament in Skopje struggling for months to put together a coalition government. Talks broke down following demands that Albanian become one of the country’s official languages for the quarter of Macedonia’s population that consists of ethnic Albanians.
Opposition leader Zoran Zaev led a vote for a new speaker on Thursday, resulting in the election of a PM from an ethnic Albanian party and prompting about 200 people — many of whom were reportedly Gruevski supporters — to storm the parliament in protest. There, they attacked politicians, calling them “traitors.” A standoff between police and protesters reportedly lasted for hours.
Photos later showed Zaev with blood streaming down his forehead, and footage of the destruction was posted on social media:
The diplomatic arm of the European Union — for which Macedonia is a candidate country — issued a statement condemning the violence.
“The acts of violence in the Parliament are wholly unacceptable and we call for calm and restraint,” High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn said in the statement. “The European Union is convinced that political dialogue in the institutions is the only way forward and we urge all political actors to honour the Constitution of the country and act in the spirit of democratic principles, decency and common sense.”