The optimistic announcements by SDSM representatives that their presidential candidate, which will be selected along with DUI, could win the first round of elections are highly unlikely. In a state of disappointment and apathy among the Macedonian citizens, it is questionable whether there would even be a turnout that is needed in the second round to elect Gjorge Ivanov’s successor. For this reason, the political elite in the country may need to consider whether to increase the president’s credentials or, which is more likely, to lower the minimum required votes for the election of the “head of state”. As for the third option, whether it is better for him to be elected in the parliament, which was opened recently by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev as one of the dilemmas.
Zaev and Ahmeti to meet after vacation
Ninety-four days to the day when more than 1.8 million registered voters have to come out and vote, none of the major political parties have announced their candidates. A consensual candidate is likely to be selected in the ruling coalition, who, as they say, will be the best choice to represent the citizens and the cohesiveness of society. The leaders of SDSM and DUI, Zoran Zaev and Ali Ahmeti are expected to have intensive meetings after their winter vacations are over and see who will be the person that is going to unite the two parties.
According to information coming from the Social Democratic circles, several prominent politicians from their ranks would not oppose if they were to run for president. On the contrary, they openly send signals or, at the very least, are not decisive against the idea of moving to the presidential villa in Vodno. As their first favorite stands out the National Coordinator for NATO, Stevo Pendarovski, who was a candidate of SDSM and in the previous presidential elections in April 2014. In conditions of total chaos on Bihac Street and the complete domination of VMRO-DPMNE, he managed to win 398,077 votes, which, however, was not enough to win, as over 530,000 voted for Gjorge Ivanov.
Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski is considered to be a close associate of Zaev and, according to him, he leaves it up to the prime minister to decide whether he should run for president of the country, and he, as before, will give his very best and will work professionally in any post he is assigned. Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov said on Tuesday that it is not the right time to discuss whether he has presidential aspirations but does not close the door for such an option.
Imer Selmani, who won a number of Macedonian votes in the 2009 presidential election, has still not made a decision to try out his luck again this year, even though many offered him the opportunity. He believes that personal interests should not prevail, but the interests of the country, whereby future candidates should have the support of parties, citizens and associations. However, he also hinted that he was considering this option. Beside this four, Deputy Prime Minister Radmila Sekerinska and Professor Denko Maleski are mentioned as possible candidates as well.
VMRO-DPMNE will not boycott
“It’s practically impossible, even if they have the most ideal candidate, to win in the first round because the candidate will need support from at least half of the registered voters in the voter list, that is, the same as for the referendum – about 903,000 votes. Their consensual candidate would probably have an advantage during the second round, but if VMRO-DPMNE decides to boycott, the question arises as to whether the turnout of 40% of the registered citizens will be provided – that is, about 720,000 votes. With this law, the president of the state is elected with more votes than the government, and has much lower authority,” said political analyst Petar Arsovski.
He proposes that the method of electing a president should be either simplified, that is, abolish turnout in the second round, or for the new head of state to be elected in Parliament
“I prefer the first way so there will be a balance of power. Either this or increase his authority, if nothing changes and the election of president of the state continues as before,” Arsovski concludes.
Prime Minister Zaev said that if the presidential election is unsuccessful, or if VMRO-DPMNE decides to boycott, the Parliament Speaker (in this case Talat Xhaferi) will lead the country, and then a new law will be passed, according to which the president of the state will be elected by MPs in the Parliament, which de facto will mean that the ruling majority could give the presidential post to some of their people without any problems.
VMRO-DPMNE yesterday denied that the party would boycott the presidential election, although they insisted on having snap general elections along with the presidential, because they think that they are capable of winning any kind of confrontation with the government in front of the citizens.
“The future presidential candidate should primarily love his homeland Republic of Macedonia. He needs to be honest, to be respected by the society, to be a family man, to be a man of his word, to be able to fulfill his promises. Not to be a manipulator, and not lie,” said VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski.
The public ad for presidential candidates in the opposition party will be open until January 31, after which the candidates will have two weeks to explain their programmes to the municipal committees. The opposition’s favorite candidate will be known at the party’s convention scheduled for February 16th. So far, the names of Vlatko Gjorcev, Antonio Milososki, Trajko Slaveski, Gordana Siljanovska, Zoran Stavreski, Ganka Cvetanova were mentioned as possible candidates. Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi announced that the elections will be scheduled on February 8, and the two rounds of voting are scheduled for April 21 and May 5. President Ivanov’s term ends on May 12.