Polls Open in North Macedonia Presidential Elections

People casting ballots in North Macedonia. Photo: EPA/EFE GEORGI LICOVSKI

Polling stations opened at 7am on Sunday in the presidential election in North Macedonia, the country's sixth presidential election since the former Yugoslav republic became independent in the 1990s. A total of 3,480 polling stations opened at am for an election in which some 1.8 million people have the right to vote.

Voters get to choose between three candidates who will hold office for a five-year term.

Stevo Pendarovski is supported by the governing Social Democratic Union, SDSM, and its junior ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

Pendarovski has pledged to continue on the path towards NATO and EU integration and support the pro-Western policies of the SDSM-led government under Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

He supports the historic agreement that the country struck last year with Greece over its name, which removed the most important obstacle preventing Euro-Atlantic accession.

Gordana Siljanovska is meanwhile supported by the main opposition nationalist VMRO DPMNE party. Although she calls herself pro-Western, she is against the internationally backed name agreement with Greece, especially because the country had to change its name to North Macedonia as a result.

While she said she would respect an agreement that she deems unconstitutional and humiliating, Siljanovska has also said she will seek to amend the damage it has done to national identity.

Blerim Reka is the only ethnic Albanian in the race. He is supported by two small Albanian opposition parties, the Alliance for Albanians and the BESA movement. He also supports the agreement with Greece and pledges to improve the rule of law and equality between...

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