- The left-wing "We Can," led by Zaev and the SDSM, won 46 seats.
- The conservative opposition "Renewal" bloc of VMRO-DPMNE, won 44 seats.
- Zaev's top priority is to join the European Union.
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), under the leadership of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, carried the day in Wednesday’s parliamentary elections in North Macedonia. The SDSM won 46 deputies, two more seats ahead of the conservative opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE.
The country’s Electoral Commission announced that after counting 99% of the vote cast, the coalition “We Can,” led by Zaev, which presented itself in alliance with the small Albanian minority party BESA, obtained 36.1%.
The main opposition bloc, Renewal, of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), led by Hristijan Mickoski, managed 34.8%.
The Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) emerged in third place, and managed just over 11%. of the vote. The opposition Alliance for Albanians (AA) also obtained parliamentary representation, with 8.5%. Two smaller parties— The Left and the Democratic Party of Albanians— won 4.1% and 1.52% of the vote, respectively.
Translated into seats, the SDMS claim 46 seats, VMRO-DPMNE 44, and DUI 15. The Alliance for Albanians (AA) won 12, while The Left and the Democratic Party of Albanians won the remaining three seats. In the nation’s 120-member Assembly of North Macedonia, the current ruling coalition would have a bare, 61-59 majority, if it agrees with DUI.
The election day was marked by fear of the coronavirus, which is currently experiencing a significant outbreak in the Balkan country, and the consequent abstentionism since electoral participation only touched close to 51%.
Speaking early Thursday morning, Zaev was happy that his party triumphed.”Our path to progress is confirmed,” he said. “The citizens went out and voted for a clear future, for unity and solidarity, for economic patriotism, for law and order and to choose a better present and a better future,” he added.
Mickoski, for his part, did not make any statement publicly, but VMRO-DPMNE Secretary-General Igor Janushev did not want to give up, and announced that the party will try to forge a government coalition in light of the tight results.
The early elections have been described as crucial for the European aspirations of this small country of just two million inhabitants. During the campaign, the Social Democrats promised that if they won, they would do everything possible to start negotiations to join the European Union.
Zaev had decided to call early elections after last fall, when the EU failed to agree on a date for the start of these negotiations. Although North Macedonia remains undated, the European Council last March gave the green light for talks to begin.
Last March, the country also became the 30th member of NATO, another of the points that Zaev has capitalized on as a result of his administration.
All this was only possible after having resolved the long dispute with Greece over the change of the name of the country, an issue that had been debated for decades. Successive Hellenic governments had vetoed their neighbor’s accession to the Atlantic Alliance and the European Union.