Stevo Pendarovski, the candidate of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia and the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, was in the lead after voting ended on May 5 in the second round of the Republic of North Macedonia’s presidential elections, according to early results.
Voting ended at 7pm Skopje time, with turnout at 44.5 per cent, sufficient for the vote to be valid.
With just more than 30 per cent of the votes counted, Pendarovski, a 55-year-old former political science professor, had about 57 per cent to 40 per cent for his rival, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, the candidate of former ruling party, the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE.
Reports from Skopje on the evening of May 5 said that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s Social Democratic Union already had claimed victory, “warning the opposition not to bet on fake news to justify its defeat”.
The VMRO-DPMNE said that if Pendarovski were named the winner, this would be the result of “election engineering” on behalf of the ruling party.
Casting his ballot on May 5, Pendarovski – who two weeks earlier had just more than a mere 4000 votes more than Siljanovska-Davkova, said that he expected an even more convincing victory at the second round.
Official results are required to be announced within 24 hours of the close of voting.
The 2019 vote was the sixth presidential election in North Macedonia. Whoever wins will become the country’s fifth head of state.
The Republic of North Macedonia’s incumbent President, Gjorge Ivanov, could not stand again, having used up his two constitutional terms as head of state.
Ivanov served as head of state on the ticket of the VMRO-DPMNE, the country’s former long-standing ruling party, and was a vehement critic of the former Yugoslav republic’s agreement with Greece that brought to an end the dispute on the use of the name “Macedonia”.