The candidate of the ruling parties looks firmly on course to win the second round of the presidential election in North Macedonia, preliminary results show.
Preliminary results from Sunday’s second round of presidential elections in North Macedonia suggested that Stevo Pendarovski, the candidate supported by the country’s ruling parties, has won the election, after taking a firm lead against his rival, Gordana Siljanovska, who was backed by the main opposition VMRO DPMNE party.
After 96.87 per cent of votes were counted, Pendarovski had won 421,487 votes, or 51.86 per cent of votes cast. Siljanovska won 361,984 votes, or 44.54 per cent, the preliminary unofficial results of the State Electoral Commission showed.
At a press conference on Sunday night, the main ruling Social Democratic Union, SDSM, declared victory on behalf of their candidate and started to celebrate.
“The people have recognized the concept that leads forward, that leads to EU and NATO integration. The citizens today chose a forward-looking president at democratic and fair elections,” Kostadin Kostadinov, the Social Democratic spokesperson, told a press conference.
“I am joining today the leadership in this country that strives for a Euro-Atlantic, democratic and prosperous country. The dark past is behind us thanks to the mature and wise decision of our people”, Pendarovski told a press conference later this evening.
The main opposition VMRO DPMNE party at a press conference held on the same evening accused the government of “electoral engineering” and said it had have spotted “many irregularities”. Election monitors during the day did not report major electoral irregularities.
Putting on a brave face on likely defeat, VMRO DPMNE secretary general Igor Janushev said his party had won in “many municipalities”, which he said showed that “VMRO DPMNE is back in a big way” and that, “[Prime Minister Zoran] Zaev’s fall has begun.”
One of the main concerns about the election was whether enough people would turn out. At least 40 per cent of the total electorate must cast ballots for the election result to be deemed valid.
According to the preliminary results, however, the turnout on Sunday was more than 46 per cent, which means that the election will be deemed a success.
Many observers had feared meeting the threshold would be hard to achieve, given that during the first round, the turnout was just slightly above 41 per cent, the lowest in any presidential poll since the country gained independence in 1991.
The official results from the first round of presidential voting are expected to arrive on Monday.