Main Party Rivals Lead in Macedonia Election

resizer123George Ivanov from the main ruling VMRO DPMNE party and Ljubomir Frckoski from the main opposition the Social Democrats are set to go into the second round of Macedonia’s presidential election according to early results.

Out of 37 percent of the counted votes, Ivanov is the frontrunner with about 81,000 votes or 37 percent while Frckoski has won 43,000 votes or nearly 20 percent, according to the State Election Commission.

The independent candidate Ljube Boskoski got 36,000 votes or 16 percent, Imer Selmani from the New Democracy party received 29,000 votes or 13 percent, while Agron Buxhaku from the ruling Democratic Union for Integration, DUI got 16,000 votes or over 6 percent.

Mirushe Hoxha from the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA and Nano Ruzin from the Liberal Democrats won around 7,000 votes each or around 3 percent from the number of ballots counted so far.

Earlier the State Election Commission announced Sunday’s presidential and mayoral elections went without major incident and met democratic norms.

In what was widely seen as a curtail test for the country’s shaken democratic record only the heavy snow disrupted the election with ballot materials unable to reach some remote mountainous areas on time.

But overall the election went “peacefully and in a democratic atmosphere with minor exceptions,” the State Election Commission head, Aleksandar Novakovski said at a press conference.

The snow prevented some 12,000 people in certain mountainous vilages, less than one percent of the total voters, to vote as the balloting did not start in 103 out of the nearly 3000 ballot stations, the commission said.

The largest association of domestic monitors, MOST also assessed the vote as generally fair and democratic with few minor, mainly technical and administrative flaws. They have been monitoring the process with over 3000 observers out of almost 7,500 present at the ballots. The police presence was also evident at all ballot stations.

The election is being closely monitored in the West which has previously warned the country that it could face years of delay in its bid to join the European Union if there is a repeat of last year’s election-related violence. In June 2008, violence erupted between rival ethnic Albanian parties during the vote leaving one person dead and several wounded.

In statements given prior to the closing of the vote, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the largest international monitoring group, and the key western ambassadors to the country also expressed that they were content with the way the elections were held.

If none of the seven presidential candidates wins more than half of the votes in the first round a run-off will be staged on April 5 between the two front-runners. The same applies for the 84 mayoral seats.

During the campaign, the opinion polls favored Ivanov. Frckoski and Selmani were mentioned as most probable runner-ups.

If the country pulls off a smooth election it can hope for a swift removal of EU visas put up against travelling Macedonian citizens and a date for the start of its EU accession talks this autumn.

Macedonia has been a EU candidate state since 2005 and last year the EC said Skopje is still not ready for the start of accession talks largely because the violence and fraud allegations that marred the 2008 general election.

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