A referendum on changing Macedonia’s name as part of a deal that would pave the way for NATO membership won overwhelming support Sunday, but low voter turnout highlighted the hurdles that still remain for the Balkan country to join the alliance. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had hoped for a strong show of support in the referendum on whether to accept a June deal with Greece changing the country’s name to North Macedonia. That would help him with the next step of winning parliamentary support for the required constitutional amendments.
Results from more than 97 percent of polling stations showed 91.3 percent of voters approving the deal. But turnout stood at just 36.8 percent, a far cry from the massive support the government had hoped for.
Opponents to the name change had called for a boycott of the vote and celebrated in the street outside Parliament when turnout figures were announced, chanting slogans and waving flags.