Gjorge Ivanov Wins First Round of Macedonia's Presidential Elections
Incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov, from the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, has declared victory at Macedonia's presidential elections.
Ivanov is however not the outright winner, because although he received 51.65% of the votes, the low turnout means he gathered support from barely one-fourth of the population.
He will have to face the runner-up, socialist Stevo Pendarovski (37.56%), at a second round scheduled for April 27, the country's Kurir newspaper has reported.
With 99.49% votes counted as of 00:00 local time on April 14, Ivanov was leading with 120 000 ballots, having secured the support of 447 240 of voters.
"With this result, the citizens have already said what will happen on April 27, a double victory in the presidential parliamentary election," conservative Ivanov was quoted by Deutsche Welle as saying short after the election commission's announcement.
Iljaz Halimi, the candidate of the Democratic Party of Albanians, was third with around 4.49%, while Zoran Poposki from the new opposition party Civil Option for Macedonia, got 3.61%. The two men are unlikely to run at a second tour.
A total of 865 914 people, or 48.85% of those eligible to vote, went to cast their ballot on Sunday. In 2014, a similar voter turnout was registered, with 48.73% opting to vote.
Activity was considerably low in ethnic Albanian municipalities, after the leader of the junior government partners from Democratic Party of Albania Ali Ahmeti called on their population to boycott the election after he failed to convince the ruling VMRO-DPMNE that a joint candidate be raised from the coalition.
Albanians make up to 25% of Macedonia's population.
The second round is due to take place on April 27, alongside early general elections.
Macedonia's Interior Ministry was quoted by Kurir as saying that no serious violence was reported during the election day and that it proved to be "the most peaceful vote so far".
Albanian-language website Almakos however reported some ethnic scuffles in the capital Skopje.
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