Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his VMRO party on Sunday won snap parliamentary elections that were marred by allegations of fraud by the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM).
With 60 per cent of the ballots counted, VMRO had 42.6 per cent, which may be enough to rule without forming a coalition under the Macedonian electoral system.
Sunday’s triumph is the fourth for Gruevski and VMRO since 2006. He won elections in 2008 and 2011, as well.
The incumbent and VMRO candidate Gorge Ivanov was also leading the SDMS—backed challenger Stevo Pendarovski with 57 to 40 per cent in the presidential run—off, which was held alongside the vote for the parliament.
The SDSM was at 23.2 per cent, but its representatives may not take their seats in protest at what the party leader Zoran Zaev said were manipulated elections.
“The SDSM and its allies will not recognize the election process, parliamentary and presidential,” SDSM leader Zaev said after polling stations closed.
Zaev dismissed official assessments that the vote was “fair and democratic,” accusing Gruevski of abusing his grip on power and his influence over the media, judiciary and police to secure a win.
Gruevski “does not have the elementary will to hold democratic elections,” Zaev said, adding that the opposition will seek a repeat of the elections because violations disqualified Sunday’s vote.
“Macedonian citizens were tricked, there are no elementary conditions for an election process — it was carried out in an uncivilized manner, usurping the citizens’ constitutional right,” Zaev said.
The SDMS boycotted the Macedonian parliament for four months in 2011, accusing Gruevski of hoarding the leverages of power — the police, judiciary and media — to his advantage. That row led to snap polls.
The Democratic Union for Integrations (DUI), a former VMRO coalition partner, had 15.5 per cent in Sunday’s vote and the other party from the large Albanian minority, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), 6.8 per cent.
One of the two Albanian parties traditionally took part in the governing coalition. The arrrangement is made in the interest of stability even when not necessary.
The turnout among the 1.8 million registered voters was around 60 per cent.
The preliminary results were in line with pre—election surveys, which had forecast VMRO winning 62 to 63 of the 123 seats in parliament, which would allow it to govern without forming a coalition. The party held 56 seats in the previous parliament.
The SDSM were tipped to win 31—32 seats, the DUI and DPA 16 and nine, respectively.
The eight years that Gruevski has been in office has seen Macedonia and Greece locked in a diplomatic row over the name Macedonia, which has left the country outside NATO and far from EU membership.