Macedonia Referendum Records Low Turnout, Both Sides Claim Victory
Macedonia's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced he will forge ahead with his bid to pass the 'name' agreement with Greece through parliament, despite his "yes" campaign failing to draw enough voters to pass the turnout threshold required to make Sunday's historic referendum legally valid.
Based on all ballots cast by the time polls closed at 7pm, the State Electoral Commission, DIK, reported that voter turnout was 36.84 per cent - far below the 50 per cent needed for the referendum to be deemed legally successful.
With 88.50 per cent of votes counted, the DIK announced that the results of today's referendum are currently 91.33 per cent in favour and 5.76 per cent against the name agreement with neighbouring Greece that is hoped could end Athens' blockade of Macedonia's EU and NATO membership paths.
However, both the 'Yes' camp, led by the ruling Social Democrat government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, and the main opposition party, VMRO DPMNE, whose leadership opted to boycott the vote last minute, declared victory.
In a public address after the polls closed, Zaev declared the vote a win for "European Macedonia", insisting that the overwhelming 'yes' vote would give legitimacy for the next step of the implementation of the agreement: a constitutional change in parliament in order to adopt the newly agreed name - The Republic of North Macedonia.
Parliament can only make such major constitutional changes with the support of at least two-thirds of MPs, meaning at least 80 out of 120 MPs. With the "Yes" camp currently holding 71 seats, they need to win over support of nine others.
After the vote, Zaev adamantly stated that no better deal can be reached with Greece and "there is no alternative" to changing the...