Early returns from municipal elections being watched as a test of Macedonia’s new left-wing administration indicated Sunday night that voters are backing the government. Results from 30 percent out of the country’s 3,480 polling stations showed the Social Democrat-led led coalition of Prime minister Zoran Zaev leading in 44 of Macedonia’s 81 municipalities, including the capital of Skopje. Candidates from the conservative VMRO-DPMNE led in 13. In the last local elections in 2013, the conservatives won 56 of 81 municipalities, while the Social Democrats won four. “This is a strong punishment for VMRO-DPMNE,” political analyst Gjorgi Spasov said on local TV channel 24. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev addressed supporters in front of the government building early Monday, claiming victory and congratulating people for contributing to a “free and fair” vote.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Macedonia.
About 2,000 protesters gathered in Skopje on April 28 and demanded new elections one day after a band of protesters stormed Macedonia’s parliament and beat up leaders of an emerging new governing coalition. The latest protests, which were peaceful, were staged outside the mission of the European Union, which had expressed support for the new governing coalition formed by Macedonia’s Social Democrats and ethnic Albanian parties. The organizers of the latest rally insisted they have no political affiliation, and said their activism is aimed at preventing the country from sliding deeper into crisis. They marched under the banner “For a joint Macedonia.”
Macedonia: U.S. diplomats backing Balkan republics against suspected Russia meddling | Los Angeles Times
Even as President Trump seeks to improve relations with Russia, the State Department is countering overtures by Moscow in one of its former satellite regions, the Balkans. State Department spokesman Mark Toner on Tuesday called for Macedonia, one of the former republics of the now-defunct Yugoslavia, to urgently put together a government. This comes after the former prime minister of neighboring Montenegro, Milo Djukanovic, accused Russia of meddling in the region and attempting to provoke a coup against Montenegro’s pro-Western government last fall. Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina have expressed strong interest in joining the European Union and possibly the NATO military alliance, but Russia has opposed those moves.
Macedonia’s conservatives, led by former prime minister Nikola Gruevski, secured victory on Sunday in a bitterly contested national election after a poll rerun in a single station did not give the leftist opposition enough votes to overtake their rivals. The rerun, in the northwestern village of Tearce, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital of Skopje, gave the opposition, led by the Social Democrats, 245 votes to 149 for the conservatives, led by Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party. There were 402 people voting out of 714 registered. The rerun had been ordered following complaints about voting irregularities from the opposition Social Democrats. The result has not been officially announced but has been posted on the website of Macedonia’s Election Commission.
On Sunday, Macedonia is set to re-run the December 11 general election in a single polling station – which could change the overall election result by potentially evening out the number of seats won by the ruling and opposition parties. Macedonia’s Administrative Court on Tuesday accepted one electoral complaint filed by the opposition Social Democratic Union, SDSM as a result of which the December 11 general election will be re-run in a single polling station, number 2011, in the north western municipality of Tearce. This single re-run could alter the number of seats won in parliament by the two main parties on December 11 from 51-49 in favour of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party to 50-50 with the SDSM.
As Macedonia’s state election commssion, DIK, convened on Thursday evening in Skopje to decide opposition complaints about the general election, thousands of supporters of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party arrived by bus from smaller towns on a mission to “protect” its election victory. VMRO DPMPE politicians and prominent supporters heated up the crowd, accusing the main opposition party of plotting “treason” to Macedonia. “We won’t allow the country to be run by people who are prepared to commit the greatest treason against Macedonia,” VMRO DPMNE MP Ilija Dimovski told the protesters. “The DIK members should know that they carry the greatest responsibility and will decide whether this country will be normal and prosperous,” he added. “They should know that these people have no more strength to tolerate things. We respect democracy and the voice of the people. There is no turning back,” Dimovski continued.
Far from resolving the long-standing political crisis in Macedonia, Sunday’s tight election outcome hints at an even tenser situation that could easily spill over into violent incidents, observers warn. “We have a tie position in both political blocs, numerous combinations for assembling a new government and a serious threat of ethnic conflict among Macedonians,” political analyst Daut Dauti told Deutsche Welle. Tension on the ground between the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party of former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the main opposition Social Democratic Union, SDSM, led by Zoran Zaev is already dangerous, experts say. On Tuesday night, in the northern town of Kumanovo, special police units entered the home of local police chief Stojance Velickovic, reportedly in search of alleged evidence of election rigging. Velickovic, who was appointed by the now outgoing interim Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, who comes from the ranks of the opposition, said the whole event was a set-up organized by the VMRO DPMNE party.
Macedonia’s opposition Social Democratic Union has challenged the results of the country’s weekend parliamentary elections, in a bid to overturn a narrow win by the conservative ruling party. The Social Democrats on December 13 filed complaints about voting irregularities that were echoed by a new ethnic Albanian party, the Besa, which reported alleged violations that could change the outcome of the vote. The state elections commission said the two opposition parties lodged complaints on the electoral process at 16 polling stations, demanding a repeat vote in those places.
Veteran leader Nikola Gruevski’s nationalist VMRO-DPMNE won 51 out of 120 seats in Macedonia’s parliament in a snap poll on Sunday that is expected to end a two-year long crisis that brought his government down. The nationalists are now in a good position to form a government with their old partner, the Albanian DUI despite their losses. Overall, Albanian ethnic minority parties lost out to the social democrats, suggesting an easing of ethnic strains. Preliminary results issued by the State Election Commission showed opposition Social Democrats had won 49 seats in the election, brought about by Gruevski’s resignation over a wiretapping scandal.
Both main parties claimed victory in Macedonia’s general election on Sunday night. While the main ruling VMRO DPMNE claimed a slight lead of some 20,000 votes across the country, the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, came out celebrating in front of the government HQ in Skopje, insisting it won one or possibly two more seats than their rivals. The incomplete results from the State Electoral Commission show a tight race. Of 88.76 per cent of counted votes, VMRO DPMNE won 388,761 votes, or 38.36 per cent, while the Social Democrats won 368,144 votes, or 36.33 per cent. However, some projections show that this may translate into an equal number of seats for both parties with both VMRO DPMNE and for the SDSM having 51 seats in the 123-seat parliament.