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News 07 Apr 14

Presidential Poll Likely to Shape Macedonian General Election

With only a week to go before the first round of presidential election, observers say its outcome could significantly impact on the results of the subsequent general election.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Photo by: State Electoral Commission

Experts say that if the opposition presidential candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, comes close to the ruling party's candidate, Gjorge Ivanov, on April 13, it will boost the opposition's chances in the subsequent general elections on April 27.

If Pendarovski “closes the difference between him and Ivanov to less than 50,000 votes, this will boost support for the opposition [Social Democrats, SDSM] in the general elections,” Vladimir Bozinovski, from the Skopje think tank, the Institute for Policy Research, IPIS, predicted.

A close result could motivate passive and undecided voters to turn out and vote for the opposition, he maintains.

But the same effect applies vice-versus, he added.

“If the difference between the candidates after the first round of elections is around 100,000 votes, in favour of the [ruling] VMRO DPMNE candidate, this will boost the ruling party [in the general election]," Bozinovski noted.

In the 2011 general elections the difference between the opposition SDSM and VMRO DPMNE was some 70,000 votes, in favour of the ruling party.

The SDSM then won 368,000 votes, taking 42 of the 123 seats in parliament. VMRO DPMNE won 438,000 votes, and 56 seats.

Last year's local elections widened the gap between the opposition and the ruling party to over 110,000 votes, however. The SDSM then won only 288,000 votes while the ruling VMRO DPMNE party netted 403,000.

On April 13, Macedonians will choose between four presidential candidates. A second round, pitting the two best-ranked candidates against each other, takes place on April 27, alongside snap general elections.

Meanwhile, two opinion polls showing presidential candidates ratings were published last week, the only ones so far since the start of the election race. They had contrasting results.

According to the pro-government NGO, the Insititute Dimitrija Cupoveski, Ivanov has a convincing lead over Pendarovski, of 31 to 16 per cent.

But a separate opinion poll commissioned by Fokus weekly and carried out by Rating agency gave Pendarovski a slight lead of 36.9 to 35.1 per cent.

In the same survey, 68.5 per cent of respondents said Macedonia needed significant changes while 31.5 per cent said Macedonia should maintain its current direction.

The ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has not lost a single election since it came to power in 2006.

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Background

Macedonia Elections Profile

In April, Macedonia will hold parallel presidential and early general elections - the latter considered more important as they will determine who will hold the most powerful post in the country, that of the Prime Minister.