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Macedonia - Election 2019

Under the constitution, Macedonia's conservative president Gjorge Ivanov's second and last term in office would expire in April 2019.

Voter apathy has been fueled by a lack of jobs, which has forced many Macedonians to move abroad to find work. One of the poorest countries in Europe with an average monthly salary of about $470, many voters say they're fed up with politicians on both sides of the legislature and voting for a president won't change their situation.

Leader of the largest Macedonian opposition party - the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) - Hristijan Mickoski said at an anti-government rally on 03 June 2018 that the party did not support any changes to the countrys constitution aimed at adopting a new state name and demanded early parliamentary election. "I would like to use the chance and repeat that the VMRO-DPMNE does not support changes to the constitution for the sake of changing the countrys state name. There cant be any clearer position than this one! History will judge who was right," Mickoski stated. "This is a historical period for all of us, an intersection where we are located in our existence and in our history; the state name issue is pending. Many expect our opinion on this problem, and I have no choice here but to be fair and open," he added.

The VMRO-DPMNE leader also demanded an early parliamentary election in 2019, simultaneously with the presidential election. "Lets stop them until it becomes too late. There should be elections - an early parliamentary election together with a presidential election. Lets form a technocratic government 100 days ahead of the election and see whether people will agree to what Zoran Zayev and SDSM are doing," Mickoski said, addressing the gathered citizens. Zoran Zayev is leader of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).

Pro-Western Stevo Pendarovski, backed by North Macedonia's ruling Pro-Western party, and Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova battled to a virtual draw -- 42.8 percent to 42.2 percent respectively -- in the first round on 21 April 2019. Siljanovska-Davkova, 63, ran as an independent but was backed by the main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party. Pendarovski, a 55-year-old former political-science professor, has strongly supported the so-called Prespa deal signed with Greece last year to change the country's name, while Siljanovska-Davkova, the country's first female candidate and a university professor, has been critical of it, though the opposition has said it will not cancel the accord.

The campaign itself was rather low key by Macedonian standards, with virtually none of the violence, dirty tricks, and sharp nationalist rhetoric that has marked previous votes. While the president has a largely ceremonial role, the position does have some powers to veto legislation and Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had warned the outcome of the runoff could trigger early parliamentary elections.

The ethnic Albanian minority strongly supported Blerim Reka in the first round, giving him 10.6 percent of the vote. With Reka out of the runoff race, many feared his supporters would boycott the runoff, which could have kept turnout below 40 percent. About one-quarter of the population is ethnic Albanian, and overall turnout in the first round was just 41.8 percent.

Pendarovski appeared headed for victory in a presidential runoff vote 05 May 2019 that would be ruled valid after the minimum participation threshold was reached. With just over 95 percent of the votes counted in the May 5 election, Pendarovski, a 55-year-old former political-science professor, had 52 percent to 44.4 percent for his challenger, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova. Just as important, the Central Election Commission said that turnout was 46.2 percent, erasing fears that the 40 percent participation threshold needed to make the balloting official would not be met.





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