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PoliticsNorth Macedonia

North Macedonia presidential election heads to runoff

April 25, 2024

Opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova is in the lead after winning almost almost 40% of the first-round vote. The election comes as North Macedonia seeks EU membership.

Gordana Siljanovska Davkova looking toward the camera with the left arm raised
Gordana Siljanovska Davkov claimed 40% of the first-round presidential election voteImage: Boris Grdanoski/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Macedonia will enter into a presidential runoff, after no candidate secured enough votes to win outright in Wednesday's first round of balloting.

Right-wing candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, claimed a comprehensive victory in the first round, securing almost 40% of the votes according to the state electoral commission.

Siljanovska-Davkova is backed by the main opposition center-right party VMRO-DPMNE.

Current President Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling center-left Social Democrats (SDSM), only managed to claim close to 20 percent of the votes

The second round is scheduled for May 8. 

Approach to joining European Union at heart of election

The election is being fought as North Macedonia attempts to join the European Union.

Although both the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE harbor a desire to join the EU, they differ on how that can be achieved.

Neighboring Bulgaria, an EU member, has refused to back the opening of accession talks between Skopje and the bloc until North Macedonia recognizes its ethnic Bulgarian minority in the constitution.

Pendarovski and the SDSM are prepared to make the amendments, while the VMRO-DPMNE party says constitutional changes can only come after North Macedonia joins the EU.

Can the EU afford to expand?

How the candidates reacted to the results

"It is clear that this result is incredibly inspirational for me," Siljanovska-Davkova said.

"I only know that what I promise I will implement in my own way. This is a beginning of a new era."

Meanwhile, Pendarovski explained he was surprised, adding: "We expected less (difference), but tomorrow is a new day. We are starting from the beginning."

"My assignment is to promote the concept I believe in: a state that is not isolated and that is integrated in Europe."

km/fb (AFP, AP, dpa)