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News 05 Apr 13

Macedonian Parties Hold Final Pre-Election Rallies

Macedonia’s main political players will hold their final rallies on Friday before the election silence kicks off ahead of Sunday's second round of local elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: MIA

After the pre-election silence on Saturday, voters go to polling stations on Sunday to choose mayors in 29 out of 80 municipalities as well as in the city of Skopje.

None of the candidates in these areas won more than half of the votes needed to win outright in the first round.

The secound round is expected to bring little change in what is seen as a convincing win for Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s governing VMRO DPMNE party over the Social Democrats led by Branko Crvenkovski.

In the first round two weeks ago, the ruling party won most votes in 54 municipalities, taking a total of over 400,000. The opposition won over 300,000 votes and won most votes in only seven municipalities.

In the Albanian political bloc, the main contestants are the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which won most votes in the first round, and the opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA.

After the first round, the opposition alleged foul play by the government, claiming there had been many election irregularities.

Monitors from OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, delivered a generally positive, although cautious, preliminary report, however.

They said that the elections had been well-run but they noted partisan media coverage and a blurring of state and party activities that did not always provide for a level playing field.

“Our mission received credible allegations of voter intimidation and misuse of state resources throughout the campaign,” the head of the monitoring mission, Geert Ahrens, said in Skopje.

Over 1,103,000 people are eligible to cast ballots in 1,614 polling stations on Sunday in the municipalities that entered the second round.

The vote will be monitored by several thousand local election monitors and few hundred foreign observers.








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