Citizens punished the government, however, the opposition has no reason to celebrate, because the main opposition party did not benefit from the citizens’ dissatisfaction with the ruling parties. The betrayed revolution and the promises of justice and peace, the painful compromises on the name and the issues that have plagued the national sentiments, the economy that never seems to be on the government’s agenda, the cases of nepotism, and the role of DUI are the biggest reasons that the government has lost a large number of voters that supported it in the previous local elections. On the other hand, the remaining of Nikola Gruevski’s rule, from which VMRO-DPMNE still cannot distance itself, as well as the undefined positions regarding the Prespa Agreement, ie the alternative that would enter the European integration processes, is the minus of the balance of the opposition, due to which failed to achieve a better result. Interestingly, although these were presidential elections, the candidates for the head of state have completely merged in the image of the main political parties, so they were forced to carry the baggage of the leadership on Bihac Street, “Mala Recica” and the so-called “White Palace”.
Professor Nano Ruzin estimates that Stevo Pendarovski won a brave victory, which must not be taken tragically, if the government hears the message sent from the people.
“At first I thought that he would lose, so I was ready to say that it was an ideal defeat. But this is not much different. The result of Sunday is a warning to the Government and to SDSM that it should be much more specific and within its own ranks, meaning discipline. Then, there must be more efficiency in the judicial authorities, although the government has no direct contact with them, but it is clear that it is not possible with Gandhi’s methods to deal with criminal affairs. In general, the citizens punished SDSM and VMRO both in terms of previous policies and in terms of Gruevski’s past rule. One has to admit that in countries like ours, perhaps in the consciousness of the citizen, you are very brave by making big steps towards the EU and NATO, but on the other hand, the stakes and the compromises are too high and our electorate is not ready for that,” points out professor Ruzin.
As for the visible lack of interest in voting in the predominantly Albanian populated areas, the professor considers the lack of motivation as the main reason for this.
“Perhaps they require some change in the way the president of the state functions, maybe they require a vice-presidential post. It is a fact that they were not motivated. Now there is danger that if the supporters of Blerim Reka do not go out to vote in the second election round, that we will face the turnout issue, but that’s Plan B. I am convinced that Pendarovski will win,” Professor Ruzin emphasized.
Analyst Visar Ademi, as the first problem for the low turnout in Sunday’s elections, points out the fact that a good part of Macedonians and Albanians no longer live in Macedonia.
“I openly say that only at the German Embassy in Skopje are currently browsing 20,000 applications, but it seems that nobody takes me seriously. When we talk about the reasons for the weak result that the ruling coalition made in the first round of presidential elections, this is primarily the disappointment of the policies of SDSM. Citizens think: The way citizens think is: ‘Okay, the name has been changed, but at least we see economic benefits from it, it improved our lives, opened our prospects, there are new jobs, higher living standard’. Unfortunately, we did not see any of this, so disappointment and anger are huge. Moreover, the citizens sent a clear message that there is no compromise with the rule of law. With all these pardons that he granted, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev actually shot himself in the foot. The people seek justice and expect it from the government. Ignore all those talks that the judiciary is independent, we all know how it works in Macedonia. Finally, one must not forget that the DUI criminals also take part in the government. Is it now whether the low turnout by Ali Ahmeti’s party is intentional or not, or are they trying to raise the bargain ahead of the second round? I do not know, it is possible, but I think DUI is losing trust among the Albanian electorate,” Ademi concluded.
Professor Jove Kekenovski, who is part of the VMRO-DPMNE faction wing and is a fierce critic of the opposition party’s leader Hristijan Mickoski, believes that although SDSM and Pendarovski lead with over four thousand votes in the first election round, they are the real losers in these elections, but that the leader of the opposition and Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova pretend to be winners.
“Stevo, in conditions when he has the support of thirty political parties, including DUI, failed to win more than the votes he won in the last presidential elections in 2014 when he was Gjorgje Ivanov’s opponent. And Siljanovska and Mickoski have reached the worst result since 2008. Zaev is definitely a loser, but these two are certainly not winners. The real winners are the citizens who did not trust either one of them. It is more than clear that Siljanovska, Mickoski and their partners celebrate entering a second round round just so they could reach turnout so that Pendarovski wins and Zaev strengthens his position”, said Professor Kekenovski, implying to a secret agreement between political subjects in and outside the country.