Stevo Pendarovski and Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova enter the second half of the election contest for a new head of state. Pendarovski led by a narrow margin ahead Siljanovska during the Sundays’s vote, which practically showed convincing “victory” of the abstainers, since almost 60 percent of the total number of voters decided not to take part in the first round of the sixth presidential elections in the country.
The elections were incredibly peaceful, with only a few incidents, mainly individual cases of photographing ballot papers. In addition, these elections will remain memorable even after an unprecedented low turnout, compared to previous election cycles. This brought even greater uncertainty about the outcome of the second round.
Although in the first half of the election, practically, two candidates were supported by the leading parties in the Albanian political bloc (DUI gave support to Pendarovski, as well as other ruling coalition parties – Alternativa and DPA, and behind the Blerim Reka – the opposition Alliance for the Albanians and Besa) a very low turnout was observed in environments such as Tetovo, Saraj or Lipkovo… For example, Plasnica recorded a record low turnout of around 11 percent, compared to 62.2 percent in Kriva Palanka. Such oscillations also affected the overall turnout, so that the first round of voting, according to the SEC, ended with a turnout of 39.7 percent by 18:30 hours from the processed 91.5 polling stations. SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE came out with estimates that turnout reached 42-43 percent, so it can be said that the threshold to be reached in the decision-making second round was barely overcome during the preliminary vote.
Sunday’s first round is another confirmation of the dramatic drop in citizens’ motivation to participate in the election process in just one and a half years after the last elections in the country – local in 2017, when a turnout of 58.2 percent was registered. Turnout during yesterday’s vote was in fact not much higher than during the name referendum, which was held in an atmosphere of silent opposition boycott, so the turnout was close to 37 percent. In 2016, however, the last parliamentary elections ended with a turnout of 66.7 percent.
In Sunday’s first half, according to the SEC’s initial results of 93, 6 percent of the ballot papers and 95.2 percent of the polling stations, Pendarovski won 301,973 votes, and Siljanovska 301,847. Reka won solid support from over 74,000 voters, but did not enter the decisive circle, when the turnout would in fact be decisive if a new head of state would be elected.
The initial and incomplete results signaled Siljanovska’s leadership in most Skopje municipalities, such as Aerodrom, Kisela Voda, Butel, Gjorce Petrov, Gazi Baba, in which SDSM won the local elections in 2017, after a long-standing VMRO-DPMNE dominance. On the other hand, the ruling party confirmed its advantage in Centar and Karpos, as well as in Shuto Orizari. Accordingly, Siljanovska lost the battle in her municipality – Centar, but Pendarovski didn’t do well in his municipality of Gazi Baba.
In Bitola and Prilep, until late Sunday night, as the results came to the SEC, there was a dead heat between the candidates of the two main political parties. Therefore, SDSM also achieved more leadership in Kumanovo this time, while VMRO-DPMNE regained its advantage in Stip and Veles.
Siljanovska,, as expected, had the worst results in the municipalities with predominantly Albanian population, where the main duel was actually between Reka and Pendarovski, mainly in favor of the candidate who supported the opposition from the Albanian political bloc. Pendarovski had the leadership in Skopje’s Cair, Saraj, Studenichani, but not in Aracinovo, where in 2017, SDSM’s candidate won the mayoral elections. Reka led in Tetovo and Gostivar, while Pendarovski won most votes in Struga.
Pendarovski did not exceed his result from the first round of elections in 2014, when he won over 326 thousand votes, while incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov then won over 449 thousand votes. The other two candidates in the previous elections Ilijaz Halimi from DPA and Zoran Popovski from GROM won about 39 thousand, ie 31 thousand votes.
Neither the parties that directly or indirectly participated in these elections failed to exceed the results they achieved in the last election cycle, if the total numbers of voting for advisors in the local elections a year and a half ago are taken as an example. SDSM won nearly 421,000 votes then, and DUI, with which they now took part in the coalition – about 90,000 votes. VMRO-DPMNE is closer to the previous election since 2017 when it won 336 thousand votes, the Alliance then had 49 thousand, and Besa 46 thousand votes.