In the race for president, there will be a run-off ballot in northern Macedonia in two weeks. There the social democrat Pendarovski and the opposition candidate Davkova meet.
There was no winner in the presidential election in northern Macedonia. Since none of the candidates could muster 50 percent of the votes, a run-off vote on 5 May is required.
Scarce race of the two favorites
Stevo Pendarovski, who entered the race for the ruling Social Democrats, and the non-party, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, supported by the nationalist opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, went head-to-head.
After a count of 80 percent of the votes Pendarovski was 42.6 percent just ahead of Siljanovska-Davkova with 42 percent. On the third candidate, supported by two Albanian parties Blerim Reka, accounted for 11.3 percent of the vote. The previous president, Djordje Ivanov, who is affiliated with VMRO-DPMNE, was not allowed to compete again after two terms of office.
Voter turnout was stated by the electoral commission at 41 percent. The question can play a decisive role in the runoff election in two weeks. For these, a participation of 40 percent is required for the election to be valid.
Name dispute in the center of the election
The election is considered a test for the Social Democrat government Zoran Zaev, after the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was renamed Northern Macedonia in February. Siljanovska-Davkova had sharply criticized the renaming during the election campaign, but at the same time declared that he wanted to respect the underlying international agreements. In turn, Pendarovski had announced his intention to continue the path taken by North Macedonia towards EU and NATO integration.
However, the head of state has only a protocol function in northern Macedonia. With the renaming of the country the name dispute with Greece was settled. Athens had insisted since the independence of Macedonia 27 years ago that its northern neighbor change its name, because a region in the north of Greece is also named.
As an EU and NATO member, Greece vetoed any rapprochement of Macedonia to the Western alliances. Meanwhile, the accession of North Macedonia to NATO has been initiated.