Western mediators welcomed a decision by a Macedonian court to strike down plans for early elections, in a blow to the ruling VMRO party which was the only major party registered to participate. The Balkan country’s constitutional court ruled on Wednesday that the dissolution of parliament had been unconstitutional, in effect halting preparations for the poll on June 5. The elections were planned as part of an EU-mediated agreement to resolve a year-long crisis. It began when the opposition alleged that Nikola Gruevski, former prime minister, and his counter-intelligence chief had arranged the wiretapping of thousands of people, enabling them to influence the media, courts and elections.Full Article: Macedonia court halts early election in blow to ruling party - FT.com.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Macedonia.
The Constitutional Court on Tuesday scheduled a session for the following morning to discuss whether the dissolution of parliament ahead of the June 5 polls was unconstitutional because it was carried out incorrectly. The junior party in the ruling coalition, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which like Macedonia’s opposition parties wants the polls to be postponed, submitted the issue to the court last Friday. The DUI insists that the dissolution should be annulled because the MPs voted for a carte-blanche motion allowing parliament to be dissolved two months before the election, without setting the actual date. The party argues that a new dissolution vote should have been taken once the June 5 date was set.Full Article: Macedonia Court to Mull Election Postponement :: Balkan Insight.
The ruling VMRO DPMNE of former prime minister Nikola Gruevski has denied accusations it is practically suspending political pluralism in Macedonia by insisting on competing in June 5 elections alone. “It is a misconception that only one party [VMRO DPMNE] will participate. Our coalition is comprised of 20 parties and that is in itself proof that political pluralism will be preserved,” a senior source from VMRO DPMNE told BIRN under conditions of anonymity. Gruevski previously told the news agency AFP that while he was unhappy about the planned boycott of the polls by other big political parties, “there is no legal basis to be found for postponement of the elections” because parliament had already dissolved and cannot now change the election date. Gruevski said he might opt for another poll, right after the June 5 vote, in order to give other players a second change to participate.Full Article: Macedonia Ruling Party Defends Solo Election :: Balkan Insight.
A source inside Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission, DIK told BIRN that the process of weeding out alleged fake voters from the electoral roll is being undermined by the pressure from the ruling parties. “The work of the DIK is marked by constant confrontations [between its members]. The majority of the members are clearly biased towards the [ruling] political parties,” the well-informed DIK source told BIRN on condition of anonymity. Amid official silence from the commission about the progress of the clean-up, the source said that “the [nine] members of DIK do not work together to resolve the problems and that is why they are silent and their report is overdue”. “I wonder how they will restore confidence in the electoral rolls this way,” the source added.Full Article: ‘Political Pressure’ Alleged on Macedonia Voter Roll Clean-Up :: Balkan Insight.
The US embassy in Macedonia has dismissed claims made in the pro-government newspaper, Vest, that the US is hoping former prime minister and ruling party leader Gruevski will win the early elections in June. “The United States Government does not endorse candidates in other countries’ elections. Macedonia is no exception,” the embassy wrote to former Vest editor Goran Mihajlovski, who was dismissed from the paper in December. The daily, now run by a new editorial team, on Wednesday wrote a text called “Gruevski favored by one of the most Circulated US Newspapers” with a subtitle reading: “Washington has its fingers in the Macedonian election race.” The text cites a column in The Washington Times, written by Jason Katz, a public relations professional and a principal of TSG, LLC, a strategic communications, political and policy consultancy.Full Article: US Denies Backing Gruevski in Macedonia Election :: Balkan Insight.
A State Electoral Commission report intended to identify fake voters, which was leaked to media on Thursday, said that around 500,000 names on the country’s electoral roll may be fictional and need to be additionally verified. After a computer cross-referencing of voters’ data from 10 different state institutions, the report said that there are more than 495,000 names that need to be checked, as their data does not appear to match. The report noted that 192,000 of the people listed on the electoral roll do not appear in any other database. Fake voters are a key concern raised by the country’s opposition, which accuses the ruling party of tampering with the electoral roll in order to rig polls in its favour.Full Article: Macedonia Electoral Roll Has 495,000 Suspect Names :: Balkan Insight.
Macedonia is not ready for fair elections on April 24, the EU and US said on Sunday, advising a postponement of the pre-term polls that are intended to end the country’s political crisis. US ambassador Jess Baily outlined the joint assessment in a letter delivered to the Macedonian interim Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev on Sunday evening, mentioning June 5 as a possible alternative election date. The letter says that although some progress has been made, “at this stage the necessary conditions for organizing credible elections on April 24 are not in place.” The joint assessment points out concerns regarding a credible clean-up of the electoral roll, including field checks, a still non-existent agreement on media reforms that would allow objective and unbiased reporting, as well as insufficient measures to separate state and political party activities. “We are also concerned at initial reports of pressure and intimidation of voters and others,” the letter says.Full Article: EU, US Advise Postponing Macedonia Elections :: Balkan Insight.
Macedonia: A Blogger Exposes Personal Data Protection Flaw on Election Commission Website | Global Voices
Ensuring that the next elections are free and fair is crucial to the return of democracy and stability in Macedonia. A young female blogger contributed to this process by discovering a flaw related to the government’s voters’ registry web app. One of the reforms needed to end the current political crisis in Macedonia, as stipulated within an agreement that was overseen by the European Union and the United States, is the restoration of the State Election Commission (SEC) to good and honest working order. It also requires a “clean-up” of the voters’ registry, ensuring that only people with the right to vote can do so. The first official investigation that the Special Public Prosecutor has launched as part of this effort is looking into the creation of “phantom voters,” as well as votes in the name of dead or absent citizens.Full Article: A Blogger Exposes Personal Data Protection Flaw on Macedonia’s Election Commission Website · Global Voices.
“Early elections can be scheduled for the end of May or the beginning of June at the earliest, mostly because there is no time to check the electoral roll. The option of moving the election date to September is also on the table,” the ambassador of an EU member country told BIRN under condition of anonymity. The same diplomat said spending more time to adopt reforms that guarantee free and fair elections and the participation of the opposition is more important than sticking to the ruling VMRO DPMNE party’s April 24 timetable. The EU-brokered deal reached last summer “is a process that should lead to fair and inclusive elections, not to sticking to predefined [election] dates,” he added. “Many deadlines [in the agreement] were breached. If the ruling party insists that the polls go in their favour, they should agree to a new election date,” the ambassador continued.Full Article: Macedonia Election Date Still on Table :: Balkan Insight.
Following the decision of the ruling parties to push on with elections in April 24, and amid concern that the opposition may boycott the polls, three separate teams comprised of IT experts are to cross-check the data to determine who is alive and in the country and so eligible to vote. “Two teams are to be engaged of competent local IT companies, and one of international companies,” the head of the election commission, the DIK, Aleksandar Cicakovski, said. The data on voters will be taken from various institutional registers, starting from the Central Bank, the Health Fund, the Employment Agency, the Cadastre Agency, the Public Revenue office and others.Full Article: Macedonia Starts Cleaning up Electoral Roll :: Balkan Insight.
Macedonia’s parliament voted on Monday to dissolve itself as of Feb. 24, clearing the way to an early parliamentary election two months later that the opposition says it will boycott. The ruling VMRO-DPMNE moved ahead with plans to hold the poll on April 24, in line with a deal brokered by the European Union mid-last year to end a bitter standoff over allegations against the conservative government of illegal phone-tapping and widespread abuse of office. But the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, said they would not take part, effectively prolonging a political crisis that erupted in January 2015 when party leader Zoran Zaev began releasing a slew of damaging wire-taps.Full Article: Macedonia moves for April election that opposition says will boycott | Daily Mail Online.
Macedonia’s main opposition party on Tuesday published what it says is new evidence of government vote-manipulation in three recent elections, following up on accusations of a massive wire-tapping scandal. At a party rally, Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats released what they said were recorded conversations between conservative government officials and Macedonia’s intelligence chief. Addressing more than 2,000 party supporters, Zaev repeated calls for conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to immediately hand over power to an interim government that would ensure “free and fair elections.”Full Article: SKOPJE, Macedonia: Macedonia opposition claims government manipulated elections | World | MyrtleBeachOnline.com.
The ruling VMRO DPMNE party won half of the seats in Macedonian elections. According to initial results, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Nikola Gruevski won 61 of the 123 seats in parliament, and the SDSM 34. The governing ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, won 19 seats and the opposition ethnic Albanian Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, seven. The newly-formed Citizen’s Option for Macedonia, GROM, and the National Democratic Rebirts, NDP, won one seat each. Opposition Social Democrats are to consider whether to refuse to take up their seats in parliament following their defeat in Sunday general and presidential elections, which the party blames on electoral fraud.Full Article: Macedonia: OSCE Criticises, Opposition May Refuse Elections Results | Eurasia Review.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s ruling center-right party has won its fourth consecutive election victory in Macedonia but looks likely to fall just short of an outright majority. The opposition Social Democrats refused to recognize the result Monday, alleging voter intimidation by the government, but international monitors described the vote as well run. With 99.9 percent of the vote counted Monday, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE had won 42 percent and 61 seats — one short of a majority in the 123-member parliament. The Social Democrat-led opposition alliance got 24.9 percent and 34 seats, according to the State Election Commission. Turnout was 64 percent. In a separate vote Sunday, conservative President Gjorge Ivanov won a second five-year term in a runoff for the largely ceremonial post.Full Article: Macedonia's conservatives win 2 elections, opposition refuses to recognize result - Seymour Tribune.
Macedonians began voting for a new assembly and president Sunday in a poll expected to cement the conservatives’ grip on power, despite a shaky economy and a stalemate in Skopje’s bid to join the EU. The legislative vote is being held a year ahead of schedule after the ruling VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a joint presidential candidate. The run-off for a largely ceremonial post will be held between incumbent Gjorge Ivanov of the VMRO-DPMNE and his Social Democrat rival Stevo Pendarovski. Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT and will close twelve hours later. More than 1.7 million voters will elect a new 123-seat parliament chosing between 14 parties and coalitions. But opinion polls have given a strong lead to both Ivanov and the VMRO-DPMNE. The ruling party is credited with 28 percent of the vote against 15 percent for the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM).Full Article: Macedonia votes in snap polls, presidential run-off.
The leading opposition party in Macedonia said Sunday that it will not recognize the result of snap parliamentary elections and a presidential run-off vote, claiming that the ruling VMRO party violated election rules. “The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its allies will not recognize the election process, parliamentary and presidential,” SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said after polling stations closed. Zaev dismissed the official assessment by the state election commission that the vote was “fair and democratic,” insisting that Prime Minister Gruevski‘s conservative VMRO party abused their authority to secure a win. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski “does not have the elementary will to hold democratic elections,” he said, adding that the opposition will seek a repeat of the elections because violations disqualified Sunday‘s results.Full Article: 1ST Macedonian opposition threatens to boycott elections result By Boris Babic, dpa | EUROPE ONLINE.
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov will seek his second term in office in a runoff ballot against an opposition contender on April 27 after the first round on Sunday produced no outright winner. The second-round vote for the largely ceremonial post will be held together with a snap parliamentary election, called after the ruling multiethnic coalition in the small Balkan country failed to agree on a single presidential candidate. Ivanov, nominated by the VMRO-DPMNE party of conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, captured 52 percent of the votes cast, according to preliminary results by the state electoral commission after counting almost 90 percent of the ballots. For an outright victory, a candidate must win votes of more than 50 percent of the 1.7 million registered voters, rather than of those who actually cast ballots. The runoff should be held two weeks after an inconclusive presidential election, according to the constitution.Full Article: Macedonia to hold presidential runoff vote April 27 | Reuters.
Macedonia’s presidential election looks set for a run-off vote later this month after preliminary results from Sunday’s first round seemed to show the incumbent falling short of outright victory. President Gjorge Ivanov, candidate for the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, heads the race with 51.8 percent of the votes cast, electoral officials said. His main rival, Social Democrat Stevo Pendarovski, won 36.3 percent, unofficial results showed, based on just over 70 percent of the vote counted so far. However, a president can only be elected on the first round of votes in Macedonia if a candidate gathers the support of more than 50 percent of all 1.7 million registered voters, around 870,000 votes. But with turnout at just over 50 percent, according to figures from the country’s electoral commission, Ivanov has secured the backing of around 450,000 voters, taking the race between with Pendarovski to a run-off on April 27, along with early general elections in the country.Full Article: Macedonia presidential election set for second vote | GlobalPost.
Macedonia: Elections were competitive, transparent and well-administered in Macedonia, international observers in Skopje say | ODIHR
Yesterday’s early parliamentary elections were competitive, transparent and well-administered throughout the country, but certain aspects such as the blurring of the line between state and party require further attention, the international observers concluded in Skopje today.
On election day, voters were able to freely express their choice in a peaceful atmosphere, despite some irresponsible claims of irregularities by political parties. The voting and counting process was assessed as overwhelmingly positive, with no significant differences between Macedonian and ethnic Albanian areas.Full Article: Elections were competitive, transparent and well-administered, international observers in Skopje say - Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.
The government will enable Macedonia’s diaspora to exercise the right to vote in the parliamentary elections scheduled for June 5th without having to be physically present in the country.
Three new electoral units were added to the existing six — covering North and Latin America; Europe; and Australia, New Zealand and Asia proper — and three parliamentarians representing the diaspora will be added to the existing 120.Full Article: Macedonian diaspora readies to vote in June elections (SETimes.com).