Two Candidates Celebrate ‘Win’ after Tied North Macedonia Vote
Ruling alliance candidate Stevo Pendarovski [right] with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev [left]. Photo: EPA/EFE GEORGI LICOVSKI
Preliminary results from the count show that Stevo Pendarovski, the candidate supported by North Macedonia's ruling parties, has a slight lead of less than one per cent lead over his main rival, Gordana Siljanovska, who is backed by the right-wing opposition VMRO DPMNE party, after the first round of voting in the presidential election on Sunday.
So far 99.80 per cent of the votes have been counted, and Pendarovski won 323,846 votes or 42.85 per cent, according to the preliminary results published by the State Electoral Commission. Siljanovska won 319,240 votes, or 42.24 per cent.
The first claim of victory on Sunday night came from Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the right-wing opposition VMRO DPMNE party, which backed Siljanovska.
"We won… We beat them [the ruling alliance], but we have not achieved a complete victory. That's why we need the second round," Mickoski told a press conference amid cheering supporters of his party.
"The alliance of the VMRO DPMNE and the people won against the isolated government led by Zoran Zaev and the SDSM [the Social Democrats]. The government has been delegitimised. Zoran Zaev's fall has begun," Mickoski added.
Although technically the runner-up, Siljanovska insisted that her votes, combined with the votes won by the third-ranked presidential candidate, Blerim Reka, mean that "the opposition has secured a lead of some 70,000 votes", over the government-backed candidate, Pendarovski.
Reka, who was supported by two small ethnic Albanian parties, won 79,915 votes - 10.57 per cent of the total.
This means that he is out of second-round run-off that will take...