March 24, 2009
George Ivanov from the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party maintains a lead according to early results from (FYRO) Macedonia’s (later Macedonia) Presidential election although he is likely to face a run-off vote in two weeks time; then his challenger will be Ljubomir Frckoski from the Social Democrats. Macedonia could have a “Snow White Election”, the EU ambassador to the country, Erwan Fouere said optimistically during his monitoring to the ballot posts. Besides fair play in elections the statement can also describe the fact that the snow prevented some 12,000 people in certain mountainous villages to vote as the balloting did not start in 103 out of the nearly 3000 ballot stations. (Source BalkanInsight)
The election was being closely monitored in the West which has previously warned the country that it could face years of delay in its bid to join the European Union if there is a repeat of last year’s election-related violence.
Last year’s general elections were marred with violence and fraud in the ethnic Albanian populated areas of the country. Violence erupted between rival ethnic Albanian parties during the vote leaving one person dead and several wounded. This sparked negative reports from election monitors and criticism from the west, including the EU.
For their part, the seven presidential candidates have focused their campaigns on the country’s strategic goals, EU and NATO membership, and on the need to solve the burning so-called name row with Greece that jeopardizes these goals. The economy and ethnic relations between the Macedonian majority and the Albanian minority were also high on the agenda.
Macedonia’s Helsinki Committee had earlier skeptical view about this year elections. The Committee cites the latest OSCE report on the election campaign that notes that pressure put on administration workers to vote for the ruling VMRO DPMNE party, badly organised local election bodies, and unbalanced media coverage do not bode well for a good assessment of the elections. (Source BalkanInsight)
After several weeks of campaigning during which the main candidates have largely failed to inspire voters. A bit over 50 % of eligible voters bothered to go vote.
Out of 98 percent of the counted votes, the results are following:
- George Ivanov (Conservative VMRO DPMNE) is the frontrunner with about 340,000 votes or 35 percent,
- Ljubomir Frckoski from the main opposition the Social Democrats has won 198,000 votes or just over 20 percent,
- The independent candidate Ljube Boskoski, acquitted at The Hague tribunal of war crimes during the 2001 Macedonia conflict last year and Imer Selmani from the New Democracy party both tallied around 145,000 votes or about 15 percent each,
- Agron Buxhaku from the ruling Democratic Union for Integration, DUI got 73,000 votes or just under 7.5 percent,
- Nano Ruzin from the Liberal Democrats won around 39,000 votes or about 4 percent, and
- Mirushe Hoxha from the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA got about 30,000 votes or around 3 percent.
Earlier the State Election Commission announced Sunday’s presidential and mayoral elections went without major incident and met democratic norms. (Source BalkanInsight)
Before elections there was an assumption that if the country pulls off a smooth election it can hope for a swift removal of EU visas put up against traveling Macedonian citizens and a date for the start of its EU accession talks this autumn.
Macedonia has been a EU candidate state since 2005 and last year the EC said Skopje is still not ready for the start of accession talks largely because the violence and fraud allegations that marred the 2008 general election.
So when elections now went quite well is Macedonia closer EU? Unfortunately not – not because of country itself but due the stagnation of EU for the sake of Lisbon Treaty. Before Irish yes the Treaty is not coming to force and EU can not “de facto” absorb new members.
When situation is frozen Croatia and Macedonia must wait, Turkey probably has already realized that it will not in near future come an EU member, Montenegro’s candidate application is put in archives and others are calculating their options. From the other hand this kind of time-out can be seen also positive since it gives time to think possible new cooperation methods as alternative for full membership.
More my articles about Balkans one may find from my BalkanBlog.Ari Rusila