Macedonia - Election 2014
Macedonia voted for president 13 April 2014. Incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov is one of four candidates seeking the largely ceremonial post. If no candidate won more than 50 percent of the votes cast, the two top rivals would go head-to-head in a runoff on April 27 when the parliamentary elections would also be held. The election of the largely ceremonial post of president had been overshadowed by the tough economic situation in the country. Four candidates were in the running, including incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov, from the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, who is running for a second five-year term. Opinion polls showed Ivanov and his main rival, the candidate of the opposition Social Democrats, Stevo Pendarovski, almost certain to go to a second round on April 27.
Macedonia's presidential election on April 13 was largely boycotted by ethnic Albanian voters. Albanians, who make up 25 percent of Macedonia's population, refrained from taking part in the western and northern parts of the country, where they are the majority. The ethnic Albanian Democratic for Integrations party -- a junior partner in the government -- recommended that their voters boycott the poll after the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party rejected their demands for a joint candidate.
Macedonians voted April 27, 2014 for a new parliament and president in elections expected to boost the standing of ruling conservatives despite economic and European-integration woes. Conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was expected to win the legislative poll for a fourth time, although the country is grappling with persistently high unemployment and Macedonia's stalled progress toward EU and NATO membership. Pollsters predicted that VMRO may win an absolute majority in the parliament with 123 seats, leaving the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) and two parties of the ethnic Albanian minority far behind. The legislative vote was held a year ahead of schedule after the ruling party failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a joint presidential candidate.
With more than 63 percent of the votes counted, the VMRO-DPMNE party led with 43 percent, compared with 24 percent for the main opposition party, the center-left SDSM, the state electoral commission said 28 April 2014. The opposition said it won’t recognize the results of the ballot. Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev accused the Prime Minister and his party of ‘abusing the entire state system’, claiming there were threats and blackmails and massive buying of votes. Gruevski’s party immediately dismissed the allegations as an attempt to manipulate public opinion. The Prime Minister said the corruption charges against him were false and threatened with lawsuits against his opponents.
The OSCE/ODIHR reported that the elections were “efficiently administered, candidates were able to campaign without obstruction, and freedoms of assembly and association were respected.” The report, however, also noted that the country failed to meet important OSCE commitments during the period preceding the elections, including the separation of state and party, ensuring a level playing field, the neutrality of the media, the accuracy of the voters list, and the possibility of gaining redress through an effective complaints procedure. According to the OSCE/ODIHR, allegations of voter intimidation persisted throughout the campaign.
Claiming electoral fraud by the ruling coalition, the opposition SDSM party did not accept the results of the April 2014 elections and boycotted the parliament until September 2015. In February 2015 the SDSM claimed that the government unlawfully wiretapped more than 20,000 citizens through the Counterintelligence Directorate over a four-year period. The SDSM released recordings that implicated high-level government officials in numerous apparent election-related abuses, including electoral fraud and harassment of members of opposition parties.
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