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North Macedonia on the eve of the presidential campaign

2024-02-25 20:45:00, Kosova & Bota CNA

North Macedonia on the eve of the presidential campaign

The candidates for president of North Macedonia are collecting the necessary signatures to enter the race. This requires 10,000 signatures or the support of thirty deputies in the parliament. There are 13 candidates in the race so far, among them individuals unknown to the public. Although the Albanian parties are competing for the April 24 elections, they are focusing their demand on the election of the president by consensus in the parliament.

The contestants of the main Macedonian parties, VMRO-DPMNE and the Social Democratic League are expected to be confirmed by the parties' central assemblies. Stevo Pendarovski of the Social Democratic League will run for a second term, while Gordana Siljanovska Davkova of VMRO-DPMNE is running again after five years. In 2019, she lost to Mr. Pendarovski.

Albanians are represented by Bujar Osman of the Democratic Union for Integration and Arben Taravar of the opposition now known with the motto 'VLEN'.

The latter are expected to receive tens of thousands of votes in the first round, but it is unlikely that one of them can pass to the second round, because so far it has not happened that an Albanian faces a runoff with a Macedonian contestant for president. But, it is the Albanian electorate that helps elect the president in this country.

To win the elections in the first round, more than fifty percent of the electorate's votes are needed. North Macedonia has a little over 1,800,000 voters, while there is a trend of decreasing interest in voting.

Analyst Jelal Neziri estimates that the presidential elections will be tense because they are held only two weeks before the parliamentary elections.

"The first round of the presidential elections will be a kind of survey, or weight measurement for political parties and a kind of moment that can then be used and materialized for the parliamentary elections. If a candidate wins in the presidential elections, then the political party will then try to build a winning narrative, to promote a euphoria for the parliamentary elections as well. For this reason, I think these elections will be tense, but considering the profile of the candidates themselves, I think it will be interesting and meaningful", says Mr. Neziri.

The DUI is entering the campaign with a rhetoric about the danger posed to the country by malicious and hybrid Russian influences, while the Albanian opposition's main goal is to win the DUI, which has been in power for twenty years.

North Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy, although the president is elected in direct voting, his powers are limited.

From now on, the Albanian parties insist that the president be elected in the parliament with two-thirds of the votes, but for that maybe we should wait for the next mandate.

Mr. Neziri says that this is a long-standing request of the Albanian parties to increase the chances that an Albanian will sit in the post of president, while he does not see much hope for the contestants themselves and the Albanian parties in the expected race. The analyst has dilemmas about the effectiveness of their offer to vote for the idea and not the candidate:

"It is a kind of paradox because both DUI and VLEN have come up with their candidates, while they are demanding the change of the electoral system for the election of the president. In a way, they have started the race with a pessimism, with a result that they already foresee that they will not reach the goal. But they are promoting that through these votes that will accumulate, they will try to articulate their request for a change in the Electoral Code, that is, for a change in the way of electing the president", says analyst Xelal Neziri in a conversation with the Voice of America. / VOA

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