The first round of the presidential elections held last Sunday left the ruling coalition shaken, with one of the lowest turnouts and other plebiscitary forms in independent Macedonia. The candidate of the ruling coalition, Stevo Pendarovski, is slightly leading the vote count ahead of his main opponent, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, i.e. he is advancing to the run-off with only 4.486 votes more than his opponent, which is the narrowest difference in the votes between the two candidates that went to the second round in the past five presidential elections.
The 79.921 votes won by Blerim Reka, the 32.811 invalid ballots, together with the 319.225 votes won by Siljanovska, added to the low turnout and the narrow difference in the vote count for the two frontrunners advancing to the second round, show clearly that it is 432.000 voters who expressed their dissatisfaction with the government.
It seems like Zaev’s party understood the message. Thus, the Prime Minister was quick to interpret the election results as a dissatisfaction among people with the poor performance of the lower echelons of power, so he threatened to make a purge (for which he was given an actuals broom by the actor Dragan Spasov – Dac). The opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, on the other hand, described the election results not only as an expression of resistance to the government, but also as a great public dissatisfaction with the Prespa Agreement and the change of government.
What is certain is that the campaign of the two presidential candidates before the second round will continue more or less in the same manner as before April 21. While Siljanovska states that she will never use the name North Macedonia and that the government has betrayed the national interests, Pendarovski strikes a chord by saying that the votes given for his opponent are actually votes to bring back the Gruevski’s regime, without being clear about the link between the two.
One thing is for sure – the final results will be decided by the 80.000 votes given for Reka. However, taking into account the election platform of Siljanovska, which is fully directed towards Macedonians, it is expected that these votes be in favour of Pendarovski.
Nonetheless, there is still a big “if” – will there be a turnout of over 40% or will the second round be unsuccessful, resulting in a new election process all over again?