1 Dead, 8 Wounded In Russian Shelling Of Ukrainian Regions (2024)

SKOPJE -- North Macedonia’s right-wing nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party has won a clear victory in both presidential and parliamentary elections, raising concerns of colder relations with Balkan neighbors and more difficult membership negotiations with the European Union.

VMRO-DPMNE-backed candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, 70, became the country’s first woman president, handing a resounding defeat to pro-Western incumbent Stevo Pendarovski, backed by the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM), in the run-off vote for the largely ceremonial post.

With 99.8 percent of votes counted, Siljanovska-Davkova, who also won the first round, garnered 65.1 percent of the votes, prompting Pendarovski, who obtained 29.2 percent, to concede defeat, saying that "the results are clear. I want to congratulate victory to those who won."

In a simultaneous parliamentary vote, the VMRO-DPMNE received 43.2 percent of the vote and will have 58 seats in the 120-seat parliament,
bringing to an end SDSM's seven-year stint in power.

VMRO-DPMNE leader and expected future Prime Minister Hristijan Mickoski said his party and the Vredi block of Albanian opposition parties, which won 13 seats, would form the government. SDSM has won 18 mandates.

"I congratulate our political opponent VMRO-DPMNE for this victory in the elections,” said SDSM leader Dimitar Kovacevski, a former prime minister.

"The result is disappointing and this is a big blow to SDSM," he added.

Following the election, Siljanovska-Davkova -- who is expected to be inaugurated on May 12, said she would be the "president of all citizens, to all ethnic groups, to party members, to those who are not in parties, because a president cannot -- especially if she is a woman -- unite and search for unity if she holds to party lines."

North Macedonia's sluggish progress on its EU path, poverty, and corruption were major themes of the campaign.

Constitutional Changes?

The next government's priorities are expected to grapple with the pledge to change the constitution to clear a path to opening chapters of North Macedonia's EU negotiations.

The VMRO-DPMNE campaigned on the idea that the EU negotiation framework can be changed.

Macedonians have had EU candidate status since 2005 but their accession efforts ran into a drawn-out name dispute with Greece, which was resolved in 2019. With Pendarovski as president, North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020.

However, their EU integration efforts were also stalled by neighbor and bloc member Bulgaria's veto, which is continuing despite the 2022 compromise requiring an amendment to the preamble of the Macedonian Constitution.

Siljanovska-Davkova has criticized the pledge to amend the constitution to establish minority status for the country's ethnic Bulgarians, but has acknowledged she won't block it in the event that a two-thirds majority can be mustered to approve it.

Siljanovska-Davkova has also said she will "respect" the name change that removed the Greek veto "but I will not use it," a reference to the name North Macedonia that has since appeared in all official settings.

She told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that if parliament -- which has so far failed to amend the constitution to recognize the Bulgarian minority -- approves the constitutional amendment she will respect that decision.

A constitutional amendment requires a two-thirds majority that neither side appears likely to win, and the VMRO-DPMNE has consistently blocked the move.

VMRO-DPMNE supporters celebrated past midnight in Skopje's Macedonia Square, signing and waving banners and flags.

1 Dead, 8 Wounded In Russian Shelling Of Ukrainian Regions (1)

1 Dead, 8 Wounded In Russian Shelling Of Ukrainian Regions (2)


Voters Cast Ballots In North Macedonia's Double Elections


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Election officials said turnout was 46.31 percent in the presidential election, surpassing the required 40 percent level to make the vote valid. Turnout in the parliamentary election was 53.3 percent at the same time, officials said.

Aleksandar Dashtevski, chief of the State Election Commission, told a news conference late on May 8 that “we have had successful, fair, and democratic elections.”

"All citizens had equal voting rights [and] they voted based on their own free will,” he added.

Political analyst Marko Tosanovski told RFE/RL's Balkan Service that voters appear frustrated that the governing parties have been unable to pull the country out of economic doldrums, high inflation, and pervasive corruption.

"Failures occurred at several levels, but even more so because the citizens didn’t see a quick reaction to correcting these conditions," Tosanovski said.

World Bank forecasters say North Macedonia and its 2.4 million residents are likely to end 2024 as the worst economic performer and with the biggest budget deficit among the so-called Western Balkan Six, which also includes Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

1 Dead, 8 Wounded In Russian Shelling Of Ukrainian Regions (2024)
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