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Macedonia's Ruling Party Appears To Win Narrow Victory Over Opposition

December 12, 2016

Election results in Macedonia suggest the conservative ruling party beat out the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) by a slim margin in the first parliamentary elections since a wiretapping scandal plunged the Balkan country into crisis.

The outcome may put conservative leader Nikola Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE party in a position to build a majority coalition with its longtime ally, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).

With nearly all of the votes from the December 11 election counted, official results showed VMRO-DPMNE with 38.06 percent of the vote compared to 36.69 percent for opposition leader Zoran Zaev's Social Democrats.

Gruevski's party said the results would give it 51 seats in parliament while the Social Democrats would control 49 seats.

It said that with 7.3 percent, the DUI is expected to control 10 seats in parliament.

That would be enough to form the smallest possible majority coalition if the DUI remains willing to work with the VMRO-DPMNE and if three seats decided in voting by the Macedonian diaspora are not filled -- an outcome that appears likely as turnout among the diaspora was low.

The Social Democrats were also claiming victory on December 12.

Repeated delays of data presentation since voting ended on December 11 mean the final results and seat distribution have yet to be confirmed by the state election commission.

Gruevski is seeking to regain the top post less than a year after he stepped down in the wake of major antigovernment protests over the tapes released by Zaev, which critics said implicated Gruevski and aides in corruption.

Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, and dpa

Source: mecedoniaelections-gruevski-narrow- victory/28171971.html

Copyright (c) 2016. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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