Local elections were held in Macedonia at the weekend. They took place against a background of political crisis that started late last year. At one time, the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party had threatened to boycott the local elections. However, Balkan Insight reports that a few weeks ago a deal was reached between the opposition and the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) party whereby the opposition would contest the local elections in return for the government holding talks about holding an early general election. This was one of the main demands of the opposition. Anyway, the local elections were held at the weekend and, as this context suggests, they were more politically significant than perhaps some local elections at other times.
The Macedonian Information Centre is reporting that the turnout was a very respectable 57.6%, which was somewhat higher than the 2009 figure. So, it appears as if the opposition voters did go to the polls. However, the results show that the government has done very well. The official report states that the ruling VMRO-DPMNE topped the poll in 54 municipalities, the SDSM led in 7, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) party led in 12, while five other smaller parties led in one municipality each and independents in two. It is a two-round electoral system. So, there will be a second round in two weeks times.
Commenting on the results last night, the leader of the opposition SDSM party, former President of Macedonia and a former PM, Branko Crvenkovski, has hinted that the opposition may boycott the second round of the election. However, external observers are quoted as saying that the number of electoral irregularities was small. There is a report on the results at Balkan Insight here.