Round One of Presidential Election today
The first part of the snap general election in Macedonia will take place today. Around 1.7 million eligible voters will vote in the first round of the presidential election and for a candidate to win he must get more than 50% of all registered voters. If this doesn’t happen then a second round will be held on 27th April along with the legislative elections. For a presidential candidate to win in the second round he will need a simple majority, provided he has more than 40% of the vote.
Incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov is standing for a second term and his main rival is Stevo Pendarovski of the opposition SDSM. Two opinion polls have been published prior to the election with one giving Ivanov and large lead and the second suggesting a close result. If there were to be a close result tomorrow then that could affect turnout on 27th in the parliamentary election with the SDSM benefitting. In recent elections the ruling VMRO – DPMNE has been widening the gap which in turn has led to a demoralised social democrat vote staying at home.
Although the ruling party had said that there was no need for a televised debate, one did take place earlier in the week but it was described by those who watched it as ‘monotonous’ and no candidate came out on top. The president has made several blunders during the campaign and has kept a failry low profile overall. The role of president is largely ceremonial.
The four candidates standing in the presidential election are:
Gjorge Ivanov; Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO – DPMNE)
Stevo Pendarovski; Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM)
Ilijaz Halimi; Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA)
Zoran T. Popovski; Citizen Option for Macedonia (GROM)
There are 3,480 polling stations in the country and voters can vote between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. local time.