While most of the country will watch the presidential race on Sunday, there will be a local competition in Ohrid, Novo Selo and Debar. A total of nine candidates will fight for the three mayoral posts that remained vacant after the premature deaths of the first people in Ohrid and Debar, and the criminal background of the former mayor of Novo Selo. There is no turnout threshold for local elections, the winner in the first round will be one who will receive at least fifty percent plus one vote of those who came out to vote, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if we find out the names of the new mayors of the three municipalities Sunday night. If not, there will be a second round of voting on May 5th.
Solving infrastructure problems, putting an end to construction mafia, putting an end to corruption in the administration, plumbing, sports venues, etc. The terms of the new mayors will last for only two years, that is, by 2021, when there will be regular local elections in the country, but that does not prevent candidates from having a longer list of promises. Accusations against the political opponent are a regular folklore, whereby they mainly target the leaderships of the parties, and not just against the opponent personally.
However, no matter how common they seem, these local elections are extremely important for capturing the current mood among the citizens in terms of the politics of the government and the opposition. Although SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, and then the Albanian parties, through their candidates for the presidency of the state will be put to the test, however, both Stevo Pendarovski and Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova and Blerim Reka represent themselves as non-party, and thus the parties have provided alibi, while strictly party candidates will compete in these three municipalities.
Five candidates for Ohrid
Ohrid is the place where VMRO-DPMNE begins, and SDSM ends each of their election campaigns. A total of five candidates will compete for mayor of Ohrid. SDSM, which will have the support of DUI, will run with Dr. Konstantin Georgievski. After Jovan Stojanoski’s death, he was acting mayor of Ohrid. Another doctor will compete against him – Mitre Milososki from VMRO-DPMNE, and beside them, Stevce Stevoski from the Democrats, Nihail Trendafilov from the GDU and Dzemal Mena from Besa will compete for the citizens’ votes.
Currently, the Council of the Municipality of Ohrid has 23 members, 11 of whom are members of SDSM, 10 of VMRO-DPMNE and two of DUI. In the October 2017 elections, 18,262 voters voted for SDSM candidate Stojanoski, 13,560 voters supported by Mitko Tilevski from VMRO-DPMNE, and the independent candidate Stevce Stevovski – 679 citizens. Stojanoski won the first round with 54.07% of the votes cast. When it comes to the list of advisors, 15,198 voters voted for SDSM, 12,871 for VMRO-DPMNE, 2,643 people for DUI, Besa and the Alliance, 323 for DPA, and 1,180 voters for the Ljupco Nastoski group.
These figures show that the SDSM mayor was also supported by Albanian voters. But now, according to politics at the central level, Zoran Zaev’s party members will be able to count on the votes of Ali Ahmeti’s party members, but not those of Zijadin Sela or Bilal Kasami.
Opposition coalition in Debar
How will the voters of the Alliance of Albanians and of Besa, whether the “secret” coalition with VMRO-DPMNE will come into force, is an issue that also applies for Debar. There, for example, we will watch a direct duel between another pair of doctors: Hekuran Duka from DUI and Arben Agoli from the Alliance, supported by Besa. Duka, who serves as acting mayor after the death of Ruzhdi Lata, will get assistance from the Social Democratic voters, while VMRO-DPMNE decided for the first time that he does not have a candidate. Although the publicly unveiled coalition between Mickoski, Sela and Kasami, their parties at the local level in Debar have been functioning together since December last year when they tried and managed to take power in the Council. It took less than a month, because DUI and SDSM returned the fugitive counselor, but the cooperation between the Macedonian and Albanian opposition parties opened up room for speculation whether it would be passed in the second round of the presidential elections?
About a year and a half ago, Ruzhdi Lata won 3.419 votes, Arben Agoli – 2.597, Dragan Klopchevski of VMRO – 685, and Dzemail Chupi from Besa won the support of 1.271 voters. If the same ratio is maintained on Sunday, it will turn out that the opposition has a great advantage, but given that DUI does not have its own presidential candidate, Ahmeti’s overall energy and his team are aimed at Debar, so we can expect an interesting election day.
Nikola Andonov of SDSM and Nikolco Stoilkov of VMRO-DPMNE ran for the vacant mayor’s post in Novo Selo after Boro Stojchev’s resignation, sentenced to prison for attempted cigarette smuggling. Andonov is a businessman from Koleshino, and he served as Mayor of Novo Selo in the period from 2005 to 2009. Stoilkov, on the other hand, is the current president of the local committee of VMRO-DPMNE, attorney at law, graduated from the law faculty at UKIM, he is employed at the Customs Administration. In the last elections, Stojcev won 3,005 votes, Blazo Velkov from VMRO – 2,467, and 137 citizens voted for Dragan Trajkov from the People’s Movement for Macedonia. In the race for advisors, SDSM won with 2,982 votes, compared to 2,626 that voted for VMRO-DPMNE.
Disastrous 2017 for VMRO-DPMNE
In the local elections of 2017, SDSM had a convincing triumph and won mayoral seats in 57 municipalities with a total of 415,726 votes, VMRO-DPMNE experienced debacle with only five mayoral seats and 335,054 votes, DUI won about 90,000 votes and ten mayors, the Alliance voted 48,767 citizens (three mayors), Besa won 46,464 votes (one mayor), and one mayor was also elected from the ranks of DPA and DPT. Three other independent candidates have crossed to the finish line as winners.