North Macedonia Would-be Presidents Hunt Undecided Voters

Pendarovski's slogan, "Forward Together", and Siljanovska's slogan, "Justice for Macedonia - the Fatherland Calls", reflect these two opposed narratives.

But both blocs share one common a concern - that not enough undecided voters will support either contestant.

Their absence on April 21 could put the required electoral threshold for the election, of 40 per cent, in jeopardy.

Macedonian flags were dominant at both rallies. Photo: BIRN

Contrasting visions and very different supporters:

VMRO DPMNE and Siljanovska held their main rally last Saturday in front of the government building, as a cloudy sky above Skopje began to darken.

The main rally of the ruling Social Democrats, in support of Pendarovski, took place symbolically the next day in front of the EU information centre, and during fine weather.

The day-and-night contrasts of the two events matched presidential campaigns whose political messages rarely met.

In line with the party's hostility to the agreement with Greece, the VMRO DPMNE meeting was marked by the playing of patriotic folk songs, which contained verses like "Kleti Spioni" [damn spies] and "Svoi na svoeto", which translates roughly as "on our own land".

The ruling alliance preferred playing pop songs in front of the EU information centre that had no such current connotations. One was a cheerful local melody, "Ova e samo nase Skopje" ["This is our Skopje"]. Flags were largely absent.

As expected, the opposition rally also saw few flags displaying the Vergina Sun, which featured in the old national flag from 1992 to 1995. The country had to change this flag under Greek pressure as Greece regards this symbol as part of its own Hellenic heritage.

At the opposition...

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