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Macedonia: Goverment Wins Elections After Tight Race

Preliminary results of the June 5 early parliamentary elections in Macedonia suggest that the ruling political party has won more votes than the opposition, but not a clear majority. Moreover, in the new Parliament the current government will have less seats than before the early elections, and the opposition quite a few more.

After 7 p.m., when the polling stations closed, the media mostly covered subdued reactions of political parties. Press conferences were delayed, and reporters claimed that the officials were holed up in the analytical centers, suggesting close race throughout the country. Twitter and other social media profiles of political parties were quite silent, too. It was almost midnight when the ruling VMRO-DPMNE announced that, according to their field data, “Nikola Gruevski will continue to be the PM of Macedonia.”

A voter at one of Macedonia's polling stations on the day of the early parliamentary elections on June 5. Photo by Radovan Vujovikj/PlusInfo.mk

The turnout was 63.39 percent, and it is probable that the results will be proclaimed valid, in spite of pre-election irregularities, such as the use of state resources for campaigning – including raising new foreign and domestic loans, reported pressure on public servants, unclear voters’ list, and some reported incidents such as group-voting, taking digital photos of the ballots, on-site agitation, etc. According to a preliminary statement [mk] by NGO MOST, these irregularities did not escalate due to the high turnout and – for the first time – proactive vigilance of local Electoral Committees.

State Electoral Commission has not published the vote count on its website yet, but has relayed the number of votes on the state level through the media [mk]: the ruling VMRO-DPMNE and DUI won 39 percent and 10 percent respectively, while their major opposition competitors SDSM and DPA won 33 percent and 6 percent respectively.

Smaller parties have won a few percentages of the popular vote. The number of seats in the Parliament for each of the six electoral districts will be distributed through the D'Hondt method, which further favors big parties.

Almost 3 percent of the ballots were invalid: out of 1,154,371 active voters, 1,122,420 cast valid ballots.

The new Parliament must assemble 20 days after the election, by June 25. The main post-election controversies involve the following issues:

  • Could this turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the government, as the opposition PM candidate Radmila Shekerinska remarked, due to expanded resources and credit?
  • Will the ethnic Macedonian party that won most votes be able to form a government coalition with the ethnic Albanian party that won most votes? Pre-election speculations included scenarios such as “International Community/Great Powers would prefer if all others gang on VMRO-DPMNE.”

Several triumphant supporters of the current government, like Partikopolis, claimed [mk] “Victory for maturity and democracy.” On the other hand, naysayers such as Ofca, admonished [mk] the people for having failed to notice that the current government made the hated oligarchs (created by their opponents in the 90s) richer than before, and at their expense.

More analytical Mecheto Ushko opined [mk] that the opposition must stop being so attached to personalities and business liaisons that most people blame for the misfortunes of the transition (a perception amplified by the government's campaign):

Generally Macedonia has leaned to the Right and it is high time for the Left to do something and create some sort of balance. The true struggle will take place when both winning and losing coalition receives over 400,000 votes each, and when a much slighter margin determines the winner. This would probably be the best option for development of democracy and pluralist society.

But we will have to wait for this a bit more. If the opposition wants new elections in a year or two, then it will have to change its attitude and mode of operation. It must get rid of its old mortgages and parasites…

Human rights expert Mirjana Najchevska suggested [mk] on her blog that the priorites of the new goverment must be:

1. Total reform of the judiciary – including re-election of all judges at all levels, based on very precise criteria, and establishing a system protecting their independence from the other branches of government.

2. A total reform of the public administration that would turn the Agency for Civil Servants into an independent, powerful and decision-making body that would be resistant to political pressure and capable of preventing abuse by political parties. This would imply a moratorium on firing and hiring of new civil servants.

3. Solving the name issue.

A comment by user Zharko to this post said:

Let's get real… Now the first priority for the new government will be to build a colossal Pyramid in the center of Skopje to commemorate this victory over Branko. That would cost us about EUR 100-200 million, and about EUR 50-70 million for the Sphinx with the face of our Shepherd.
It would take about 125,000 workers (employing in shifts all 2 million of us). With a meal a day and some whipping, we'll be done in 4-5 years.
Let the EU and NATO burst from envy, let the whole world envy our beauty and cleverness!!

The latest breaking news [mk]: around 2:30 pm, the police arrested one of the opposition leaders, Ljube Boškoski, “for taking bribes.”

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