By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Both main parties claimed victory in Macedonia’s general election on Sunday night. While the main ruling VMRO DPMNE claimed a slight lead of some 20,000 votes across the country, the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, came out celebrating in front of the government HQ in Skopje, insisting it won one or possibly two more seats than their rivals.
The incomplete results from the State Electoral Commission show a tight race. Of 88.76 per cent of counted votes, VMRO DPMNE won 388,761 votes, or 38.36 per cent, while the Social Democrats won 368,144 votes, or 36.33 per cent.
However, some projections show that this may translate into an equal number of seats for both parties with both VMRO DPMNE and for the SDSM having 51 seats in the 123-seat parliament.
While SDSM had a convincing lead in the capital, Skopje, VMRO DPMNE won more votes in some more rural areas.
In the ethnic Albanian bloc, the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, won 7.33 per cent of the total vote which may translate into eight or nine seats.
However, the chieg surprise in the Albanian bloc was the strong showing of the newly formed BESA party, which came very close to the DUI. Preliminary results suggest that BESA won 4.48 per cent which may translate into five seats.
BESA totally wiped out the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, traditionally one of the four biggest parties in Macedonia. The DPA won only 2.58 per cent of the votes, which would translate into two seats.
The third Albanian opposition bloc led by DPA – Movement for Reforms won 2.92 per cent which may translate into three seats.
The complete results from the State Electoral Commission are expected on Monday.
The elections come against a background of a deep political crisis in Macedonia which revolves around opposition claims that VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski illegally wiretappe thousands of people, which he denied.
The voting comes after two years of crisis marked by frequent anti-government protests.