Presidential candidates Slijanovska, Pendarovski and Reka give statements

Polling stations across the country closed at 7 p.m. as part of the first round of the six presidential elections.

1,808,131 people had the right to vote at 3,480 polling stations in the country and 32 abroad starting from 7 a.m.

VMRO-DPMNE’s presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova voted Sunday at Kole Nedelkovski elementary school.

“These are special elections. Not because I’m a candidate, not because for the first time a woman has a chance to become a president of Macedonia, but because of the conditions of the elections. We need to prove the European, reform and democratic capacity. With fair and democratic elections. This is not quite common in the 21st century, but I hope we’d finally come out of the labyrinth of transition and enter in a democratic transition,” Siljanovska-Davkova said.

She added she has tried to add a feminine touch to the campaign, with knowledge, dedication, arguments, to prove that women possess special qualities and special ways of managing problems.

“I think the campaign was successful. I expect to enter the second round. If it doesn’t happen, I would vote for Reka, for his expertise, competence and civic orientation,” Siljanovska-Davkova noted adding that she expected to win the elections and become the first woman president of the country.

Asked what she’d do with the Prespa Agreement if she won, she said she was a professor of constitutional and European law, so she would comply with such law.

“I’m committed to the rule of law, and I’ll do everything I can to show that some of the decisions are not only against the Constitution and constitutional law, but also against “jus cogens”, i.e. the peremptory norms of the UN Charter,” Siljanovska-Davkova noted.

SDSM-led coalition’s presidential nominee Stevo Pendarovski said he expected a peaceful election and a convincing lead at the end of the day.

“I expect a high turnout,” Pendarovski said, “because this is about electing not an individual but a concept with which the Republic of North Macedonia will continue to develop and soon become part of Euro-Atlantic structures.”

Pendarovski added he expected citizens to show strong support for the path the country “has been treading over the past two years: away from isolation and closer towards Europe where we actually belong.”

Responding to questions from foreign reporters, Pendarovski said he remains a firm supporter of the agreements with Bulgaria and Greece.

“We’ve had enough of conflicts,” he said. “The Balkans should leave its past behind.”

“If citizens place their trust in me today,” Pendarovski continued, “my job will be to help make their lives better instead of talking about whether Alexander the Great was of this or that ethnicity 23 centuries ago.

“That’s no business for a contemporary politician to be taking up. It’s a waste of time and money, and it takes the country backward. We [already] have this grandiose fiasco of a project in the center of Skopje which led to disputes with all our neighbors and created a deep rift inside our country.

“This kind of anachronistic, nationalist, and populist politics is strange to me. We have to set an example that good news can also come from the Balkans, finally.”

Presidential candidate Blerim Reka voted at Zhivko Brajkovski elementary school in Butel.

“Considering how nice the weather is,” Reka said, “I think citizens are in a similarly good mood, too.

“I hope we can prove through this election that we’re a country ready to start EU membership negotiations and that we have the institutional, administrative, and political capacity for our country to move towards Euro-Atlantic integration.”