Macedonia's President, Ruling Party Tipped to Win Elections
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov is set to win a second term, while his ruling VMRO-DPMNE is likely to stay in power after Sunday's 2-in-1 elections.
Ivanov has won 505.687 votes, and the ballots cast for his main rival socialist Stevo Pendarovski has been 372.886 after the counting of results in 95% of polling stations.
As for the parliamentary vote, the ruling VMRO-DPMNE and its coalition "For a Better Macedonia" are leading on the socialists, with almost 43.13% of people having supported them. The Social Democrat Union of Macedonia (SDSM) is trailing far behind with 24.95% support, as Macedonia's Utrinski Vesnik reports, citing the State Electoral Commission.
The main ethnic Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) gains 13.85 of the votes, whereas the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) has only 5.96% of the total.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who has been in power since 2006, is now likely to have his third term in office. His party has also secured victory, with better output on Sunday that at the previous polls.
Macedonia's Dnevnik suggests that, according to current data by the State Electoral Commission, VMRO-DPMNE will gain 63 seats in Parliament, SDSM can count on 34 seats, and DUI will have 18 MPs.
The main ruling party will thus have 7 seats more than in the outgoing Parliament, and the DUI wins three additional MPs.
The SDSM will however have 8 less compared to 2011's vote.
The other Albanian party, DPA, is to have 6 lawmakers, and NDP and GROM will be represented by one legislator each.
Antonio Miloshoski, who is among the leaders of VMRO-DPMNE, has announced it was Macedonia's citizens who won the elections. SDSM has vowed it will recognize neither the outcome of presidential vote nor that of the parliamentary vote.
The party's leader Zoran Zaev has told journalists that VMRO-DPMNE did not provide conditions for fair elections. Zaev was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying that Gruevski's party had abused "the entire state system" and claimed "threats and blackmails and massive buying of voters" had taken place at the elections. He urged the country's politicians to form an interim government after counting has finished.
The opposition is to announce in a few days its final decision as to what action to could take.
Macedonia's 2-in-1 polls were held amid a scandal alleging the Prime Minister's involvement in corruption.
Turnout was lower at the presidential vote than at the early general poll. Ethnic Albanians mostly boycotted the presidential election's second round, following calls of the leader of the DUI. Ali Ahmeti urged the Albanian population to abstain from backing any of the participants after VMRO-DPMNE, the senior partner in the coalition, rejected his proposal that a single candidate be raised by the parties in government.
Some media, like the daily Kurir, reported no violations during Sunday's double vote. An NGO called MOST however said "a number of incidents" had been committed which suggested the elections were not fair enough.
Macedonia is currently facing numerous political and economic challenges. Its EU and NATO accession negotiations have long been in a deadlock due to a dispute with Greece over the country's name (in neighboring Greece, a northern region is called Macedonia). Unemployment is also a concern, with some 28% of the active population unable to find a job.
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