SKOPJE – The first round of presidential elections in North Macedonia on Sunday resulted in a near-tie between the ruling coalition candidate Stevo Pendarovski and VMRO-DPMNE’s Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, who both won 42% of the vote, with turnout barely crossing the necessary 40% threshold.
Pendarovski’s lead over Siljanovska Davkova amounted to about 4500 votes. Blerim Reka, the third candidate in the elections, was eliminated from the race, managing to win 11% of the vote.
The runoff between the two leading candidates will take place on 5 May, and the turnout will be the biggest challenge, much like during the Prespa Agreement referendum in September last year.
“The elections have shown that the interest of the citizens for these presidential elections is low, because they are taking place without simultaneous local or parliamentary elections”, political analyst Albert Musliu told Al Jazeera Balkans.
Both candidates declared victory in the first round, Radio Free Europe reports.
“The elections in the second round will be much easier, because the difference between myself and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova is huge. I believe they will lead to a higher determination in favour of the “Forward” concept, because “Backward” is not an option”, stated Pendarovski, referring to his campaign slogan.
Siljanovska Davkova also expressed optimism.
“The real battle lies ahead. But, if we look at the number of votes we have received, and add to that the votes for Mr Reka, the picture is clear”, she underlined.