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North Macedonia Heads to Presidential Runoff as First Round Fails to Yield Winner

North Macedonia, April 25, 2024, The Europe Today: North Macedonia is set for a presidential runoff after none of the candidates secured sufficient votes to claim outright victory in Wednesday’s initial round of voting.

Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, the right-wing candidate backed by the main opposition center-right party VMRO-DPMNE, emerged as the front-runner with nearly 40% of the votes, according to the state electoral commission.

In contrast, current President Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling center-left Social Democrats (SDSM) garnered around 20% of the votes.

The second round of the election is slated for May 8.

Joining the European Union at the Heart of the Election

The presidential contest in North Macedonia is unfolding against the backdrop of the country’s aspirations to join the European Union.

Both the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE share the goal of EU membership but differ in their approaches.

Neighboring Bulgaria, an EU member state, has withheld support for opening accession talks between Skopje and the EU until North Macedonia acknowledges its ethnic Bulgarian minority in the constitution.

Pendarovski and the SDSM advocate for constitutional amendments to address this, whereas the VMRO-DPMNE insists that such changes should only occur after North Macedonia becomes an EU member.

“I am incredibly inspired by this result,” remarked Siljanovska-Davkova. “I promise to implement what I have pledged in my own way. This marks the beginning of a new era.”

Meanwhile, Pendarovski expressed surprise at the outcome, stating, “We expected a narrower gap, but tomorrow is a new day. We are starting afresh.”

“My mission is to advocate for the vision I believe in: a nation that is not isolated but integrated into Europe.”