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Macedonia's Ruling Party Eyes Local Election Sweep

RFE/RL October 16, 2017

Near-final results of Macedonia's first round of local elections show that the ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) are leading in more than half of the country's municipalities.

With more than 99 percent of 3,480 polling stations reporting, the SDSM was leading in 54 of the country's 81 municipalities, including the capital, Skopje, the State Election Commission said on October 16.

"This is how Macedonia looks like when the voting is free, peaceful, and without pressures," said SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, who is also Macedonia's prime minister, during victory celebrations.

Officials estimated turnout at about 60 percent of the 1.8 million registered voters. Full results are expected later on October 16, and runoff elections are due on October 29.

Candidates from 19 parties and coalitions along with independent candidates competed in the first round.

The SDSM sought a solid show of support as it looks to lead the Balkan country to eventual NATO and European Union membership.

They formed with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) a coalition that came to power following national elections in December 2016.

The conservative VMRO-DPMNE, which was recently ousted from central government after 11 years in power, previously dominated the municipalities.

With reporting by AP

Source: -sweep-local-elections/28798243.html

Copyright (c) 2017. 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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