Right-wing opposition heading for victory in polls in North Macedonia

The then North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski waits for Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Kay Nietfeld/dpa
The then North Macedonia's President Stevo Pendarovski waits for Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. Kay Nietfeld/dpa
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The right-wing opposition in North Macedonia was poised for victory in the parliamentary and presidential elections on Wednesday.

After 79.2% of the polling stations had been counted, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova won the run-off election for president with 64.8% of the votes, according to the state election commission in Skopje.

She prevailed against the incumbent Stevo Pendarovski, who was supported by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and garnered 29.2%.

In the parliamentary elections held at the same time, the right-wing nationalist VMRO-DPMNE won 42.5% of the vote with 78.2% of the polling stations counted, thereby becoming the strongest force in the 120-seat parliament.

The SDSM, led by former prime minister Dimitar Kovačevski, who was in office until the beginning of the year, won 14.5% of the vote. The party's support plummeted dramatically and fell to less than half of the vote it had received in the parliamentary elections four years ago.

The election campaign was characterized by accusations of poor and corrupt governance levelled by the opposition against the SDSM, which had been in power for the past seven years, and the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) that was in government with the SDSM.

The VMRO adopted a nationalist tone and announced a confrontational course against neighbouring European Union members Greece and Bulgaria in the event of an election victory.

This centres on the issue of the country's name, which Skopje changed from Macedonia to North Macedonia following an agreement with Athens in 2019, as well as minority rights.

Taking a harder stance against Greece could significantly hinder the accession negotiations that the EU opened with Skopje in July 2022. EU member states Greece and Bulgaria have the right to veto practically every step of the negotiations.

VMRO leader and top candidate Hristijan Mickoski will need partners in order to form a next government. The parties of the ethnic Albanians are crucial in this respect, as this ethnic group makes up around 25% of the population of the small Balkan country.

The DUI, which has co-governed in almost all coalitions for the last 20 years, received 14.7% of the vote. The VMRO is not considering it as a partner.

The opposition alliance of Albanian parties, called the VLEN Coalition, won 11.7% of the vote. It is considered a possible government partner for the VMRO.