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North Macedonia: Right-wing opposition set for big victory

May 8, 2024

Early results put the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE far ahead in the vote for North Macedonia's parliament, with President Stevo Pendarovski conceding defeat to VMRO-DPMNE's Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova.

Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova walks out of the polling station in Skopje
Right-leaning Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova is set to become North Macedonia's first female presidentImage: Petr Stojanovski/DW

Polls have closed in North Macedonia following parliamentary elections and a runoff presidential vote, with the right-wing opposition on course for big gains according to initial results.

On Wednesday evening, left-leaning President Stevo Pendarovski conceded defeat to Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, who is backed by the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party.

"The results are clear... I want to congratulate victory to those who won," Pendarovski told a news conference.

Siljanovska-Davkova will be North Macedonia's first female head of state, which is a mostly ceremonial position in the Balkan country. According to incomplete results, she garnered over 64.5% of the vote compared to under 29.5% for Pendarovski.

With 92% of votes counted, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party won at least 59 seats in the 120-seat parliament, according to the electoral commission.

The ruling Social Democrats (SDSM) won just 19 seats, in a likely signal of voters' frustration at corruption and stalled efforts to join the EU.

The outcome is expected to influence North Macedonia's chances of realizing its longtime ambition of joining the European Union.

North Macedonia: Young people lack prospects

Will the right-leaning opposition return to power?

The first round of presidential elections in North Macedonia two weeks ago was seen as a test of who would be favored by the voters in Wednesday's parliamentary elections.

The nationalist opposition VMRO-DPMNE party heads a 22-party coalition called "Your Macedonia." With the bloc's support, Siljanovska-Davkova  secured a landslide victory in the initial presidential vote, garnering 41.2% of ballots, compared to 20.5% for Pendarovski of the Social Democrats (SDSM).

Is the dream of joining the EU at risk?

Since 2005, North Macedonia has been a candidate to join the European Union, but its membership was blocked by neighboring Greece over a dispute about the country's name.

In 2018, a historic agreement was reached wherein "North" was added to its name. The agreement allowed Skopje to join NATO in 2020.

But now, for the past two years, Bulgaria has blocked North Macedonia's membership to the EU.  Sofia demands an amendment to the Balkan country's constitution to acknowledge its tiny Bulgarian minority.

The VMRO-DPMNE party chief has not only refused to acknowledge the agreement with Greece but has also vowed to confront Bulgaria over linguistic and historical issues.

The ruling SDSM has cautioned that the elections will therefore likely determine whether North Macedonia will be able to move towards its dream of joining the EU.

Balkan states: Frozen on the EU waiting list?

mf,mfi/nm (AP, AFP)