More than 720,000 citizens are supposed to come out and vote in the spring presidential election for the new “father of the nation” for it to get legitimacy. The turnout for successful elections, which, compared to the referendum, has dropped by ten percent (40 versus 50 percent) at the moment looks impossible for the disappointed electorate. The spectacular escape of the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has shaken the confidence in the government, but also in the functionality of the system, the political parties, the opposition and in general the belief in a better tomorrow and society for all.
Both SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE confident of victory
Internal assessments and surveys are still ongoing in the two largest political parties in the country for the election of the candidate that would succeeded Gjorgje Ivanov, who is leaving the presidential post after two terms. Both SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE are aware that the results of the election that should be held in April will be an indicator of the mood among the citizens when it comes to the ratings of the political parties, that is, an assessment of the policies led by both leaderships.
“Right now we are focused on the slow process of constitutional changes and ratification of the agreement with Greece, but of course we are ready for elections. According to the polls we are conducting, SDSM will be a convincing winner, that is, our candidate will be the new president in the election,” SDSM said.
SDSM points out that it is still early to announce names, but that those who already came out are the same that usually circulate the public. The media are betting on Stevo Pendarovski, Radmila Sekerinska, Nikola Dimitrov, Renata Treneska-Deskovska, Denko Maleski, and the possibility of rotation of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is not excluded.
VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski in Gostivar on Saturday confidently announced that his party would win the next election, whatever the election it may be. According to him, this non-national and criminal government trades with the most sacred thing in a state: the Constitution, only to save and to temporarily continue their political careers.
“They are not aware that the end will come very soon, but also the punishment for everything they did, for all the humiliation, the robbing and the insults against their homeland. But not before Kacarska, but before a genuine European judiciary according to European laws. We are even more resolute and more prepared to defeat them in the next parliamentary elections whether they will be regular or extraordinary. Next spring in the presidential elections, we will come out with a candidate that will brutally defeat the SDSM candidate,” said Mickoski.
The main opposition party has already formed the Republic Electoral Headquarters, led by Secretary General Igor Janusev. As VMRO-DPMNE’s candidate for President, Professor Trajko Slavevski is most mentioned in the public, but according to our information, the party is thinking about new names. Ex-Minister Ganka Samoilovska-Cvetanova, who had “resurrected” over the past few months, was reportedly not interested in the presidential post.
DUI insists on a common presidential candidate
In the Albanian bloc, DUI plans to seek a consensual candidate in this election, which would be discussed with its coalition partner in the government – SDSM. Although in 2014 the party abstained because it was “dumped” by VMRO-DPMNE, this time there is a possibility of an agreement with the Social Democrats. Ali Ahmeti’s party explains that this does not mean that the consensus candidate should be an Albanian, but the idea was for the person to be a candidate that would be acceptable to all citizens and all parties that would stand behind him. SDSM headquarters responded that if and when DUI officially makes such a proposal to SDSM, the party will consider it and decide.
But even in the case of a common candidate between government partners, the turnout needed for the elections to be successful is still uncertain, especially if the opposition, for whatever reason, decides to boycott the second round.
Political analyst Petar Arsovski points out that in this political setup of the figures and the total frustration among the citizens, achieving turnout in the presidential elections is “mission impossible”.
“In the first round, when there are more candidates and when most parties take an active part – we can talk about turnout, but what about the second round? What if the opposition does not go out to vote?” Asks Arsovski.
He says that the presidential system in the country is flawed, because the president is elected with a large number of votes, and in reality the president has very little power.
Parties to agree
“For these reasons, the parties should sit down and reach an agreement whether the president should have the same authority, in which case he should be elected by the parliament or continue to be elected by the citizens, but in that case the president would be given more power. Unfortunately, the political parties don’t want to face each other, let alone sit down and negotiate,” Arsovski concluded.
According to the voter list valid for the recent referendum on the name agreement with Greece, there are 1.8 million registered voters in the country. Unlike September 30, when the referendum was supposed to have a turnout of over 900,000 citizens, the presidential election census was 40 percent, which means that about 720,000 ballots will be required this spring. The necessary turnout was reduced in November 2008 when the then VMRO-DPMNE and Minister Mihajlo Manevski-led government, supported by SDSM, DUI and DPA, demanded and voted to reduce the turnout percentage, explaining that the changes would contribute to reducing irregularities and incidents in the second round.
Gjorgje Ivanov was the one who celebrated victory in the presidential election held on April 13 and 27, 2014, and for whom 534,910 citizens voted in the second round. 399,077 citizens have given their support to his opponent Stevo Pendarovski. In the first round, Zoran Popovski from GROM took part, and won 31,368 votes, and Iljas Halimi from DPA, who won 38,966 of the citizens’ votes.
If the next elections were to be scheduled on Sunday, such figures for both the government and the opposition would have been unimaginable.