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Macedonia’s Local Elections Finished, Almost

March 28, 2005

(Balkanalysis.com Research Service)- After the second round of voting held Sunday, 27 March, Macedonia had elected a healthy 75 mayors in its local elections – though the two biggest prizes, Skopje and Tetovo, continue to elude amidst marred voting results in certain areas.

While 18 mayors had been elected in the March 13 first round, the Supreme Court ordered “…a repeat of first-round voting in 33 polling stations at 10 municipalities, including the capital, Skopje, and in the second-largest municipality, Tetovo.” Some of these “trouble spots” had already been predicted to us in advance.

Since the re-voting in these places was inconclusive, the remaining mayoral races will resume on April 10. Kumanovo is also currently undecided after numerous irregularities.

The Skopje race pits incumbent and government-backed Risto Penov against the independent businessman Trifun Kostovski, who enjoys the support of the full opposition, the ranks of which were divided against themselves in other parts of the country at times. Although Kostovski won a majority of the vote in the first round, it did not add up, at least “officially,” to the 50 percent needed for victory. Kostovski’s supporters claimed they had been robbed, and the State Election Commission ordered a revote on Sunday in certain specific polling areas deemed to have been marred by irregularities in the first round.

However, the results again fell short of pushing Kostovski over the top and so now the “war of attrition,” as one local commentator dubbed it has begun. Both sides have to fight to wear down the other and ensure that flagging voter interest can be overcome for the second and (hopefully) final round on April 10. Yet apathy and a sense of letdown might play a part in making the final vote an underwhelming affair.

The elections were full of both surprises and expected results. The ruling SDSM expressed its continuing vitality by pocketing 33 of the races (including the Albanian DUI’s 7), compared with 17 for the main opposition bloc led by VMRO-DPMNE.

Just as much trouble for the opposition was subversion within its own ranks; former VMRO chief and onetime Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski tried with his breakaway VMRO-Narodna party to capture several important cities in the Macedonian “heartland,” but was generally unsuccessful. In the end, Georgievski’s party only won in 3 places- the sparsely-populated Makedonski Brod and Makedonski Kamenica, as well as Petrovec village, near the national airport outside of Skopje.

The disunity meant that SDSM was able to divide the vote and pluck away several races where the nationalists had expected to be strong, such as Strumica, Delcevo and Vinica. Georgievski’s supporters are protesting the vote in the key town of Ohrid, where they claim irregularities in 35 out of 73 polling places meant SDSM stole the election from their candidate, Kiril Trendafilov.

For its part, the VMRO-DPMNE won in Prilep, Bitola and 5 municipalities in Skopje, including Gazi Baba, Aerodrom, Kisela Voda and Butel. Though SE European Times mysteriously does not report it, the VMRO also won in the vital Center municipality of Skopje.

These results constitute a real victory for the opposition, which has historically not polled well in the capital. This outcome may well be a sign of Macedonian displeasure at the way SDSM sacrificed the city to the DUI in last summer’s territorial decentralization negotiations, horse-trading that will make Albanian an official language in Skopje and speed up an ongoing and irreversible process.

This is why the mayoral race will be so important. Albanians are not expected to show much support for Kostovski. If he can win without their help, it will mark practically the first time in Macedonia’s history that an important vote has been decided without an Albanian “swing vote” factor. In a way, the Skopje mayoral race becomes an extended version of the failed referendum, in other words, the only way for the electorate to extend a middle finger to the government over its policies.

The government’s Albanian coalition partner DUI won four of the key towns it was centering on – Gostivar, Debar, Struga and Aracinovo. The last is notable, as this rambunctious Skopje suburb had long been the turf of the much smaller PDP. However, PDP and the other Albanian party, DPA, boycotted the second round of voting in protest.

SE European Times reported that “…a number of incidents were reported during the second round. The most serious took place in Prilep, where four armed people broke into an election post and stuffed the voting box with ballots.

Voting was halted there. An almost identical incident at the village of Otlja in Kumanovo ended with a broken ballot box; police have arrested two people. Voting was also stopped at Butel Municipality in Skopje, where a group of unidentified people took away the voting box. A Macedonian NGO, MOST, reported that it documented irregularities, including group voting and ballot box stuffing, at 14 polling stations.”

The OSCE also gave the voting a thumbs down, a verdict which PM Buckovski denied, since after all, his party had come out the big winner.

But it’s not over in Skopje yet. If SDSM loses control of the city, it might spell their death knell in future parliamentary elections.

The following is the full list of candidates elected, according to state records cited on A1 Television.

SDSM-led coalition (not including DUI)

1. Karpos: Andrej Petrov

2. Losovo: Jordan Pavlov

3. Negotino: Gjorgi Kimov

4. Vasilovo: Slave Hristov

5. Cesinovo: Orce Mitrov

6. Berovo: Venko Pasaliski

7. Drugovo: Stojo Pavlovski

8. Novo Selo: Nikola Andonov

9. Dojran: Risto Gusev

10. Bogdanci: Gjorge Petrusev

11. Vinica: Marjan Kostadinov

12. Krusevo: Lefkija Gazhoska

13. Bosilevo: Gjorge Manusev

14. Staro Nagoricane: Vlasta Dimkovic

15. Probistip: Dusko Jovanovski

16. Delcevo: Mirko Ivanov

17. Kriva Palanka: Dragi Trajcevski

18. Kocani: Ljubomir Janev

19. Stip: Pande Sarev

20. Krivogastani: Goran Karanfiloski

21. Gevgelija: Dragi Delev

22. Sopiste: Ljubco Mickovski-Kec

23. Mavrovo-Rostase: Fuat Durmisi

24. Dolneni: Izudin Karisic

25. Ohrid: Aleksandar Petreski

VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition

1. Vevchani: Vasil Radinoski

2. Zrnovci: Blagoj Nikolov

3. Jegunovce: Toni Kotseski

4. Ilinden: Zhika Stojanovski

5. Kratovo: Mite Andonovski

6. Sveti Nikole:Slobodan Danevski

7. Centar (of Skopje): Violeta Alarova

8. Novaci: Lasar Kotevski

9. Pehcevo: Jovanco Stanoevski

10. Radovis: Robert Velkov

11. Valandovo:Nikolce Curlinovski

12. Kisela Voda:Gjorgje Arsov

13. Gazi Baba:Koce Trajanovski

14. Prilep: Marjan Risteski

15.Rankovce: Orce Todorovski

16. Aerodrom: Kiril Todorovski

17. Bitola: Vladimir Talevski

DUI

1. Struga: Ramiz Merko

2. Tearce: Rami Cerimi

3. Debar: Argetim Fida

4. Lipkovo: Becir Sakipi

5. Aracinovo: Muzafer Bislimi

6. Vrapciste: Esat Salai

7. Gostivar: Nevzat Bejta

VMRO Narodna

1. Petrovec: Zvonko Cvetkovski

2. Makedonska Kamenica: Pero Mitrevski

3. Makedonski Brod:Milosim Vojneski

DPA/PDP

Zelino: Cenan Aliu

Independents

1. Cucer Sandevo: Voislav Kirandzic

2. Gjorce Petrov: Sokol Mitrovski

3. Caska: Stojan Manevski

Previous First Round Results

The following winners were decided after the first round on March 13 and thus did not have to stand again on Sunday.

SDSM-led coalition

1. Veles: Ace Kocevski

2. Debarca: Ljubco Kojcinovski

3. Demir Kapija: Todor Tosevski

4. Demir Hisar: Ljubco Najdovski

5. Resen: Dimitar Buzlevski

6. Strumica: Zoran Zaev

7. Vranestica: Vanco Srbakovski

8. Karbinci: Boris Gavrilov

9. Plasnica: Fidajl Salifoski

10. Rosoman: Goce Velickovski

11. Centar Zhupa: Husi Sahin

VMRO-DPMNE led-coalition

1. Gradsko: Gligur Kocev

2. Mogila: Slavko Velevski

DUI

1. Bogovinje: Nevzat Elesi

2. Zajas: Rufat Huseini

3. Oslomej: Sanije Sadiku

DPA/PDP

Saraj: Imer Selmani

Independent

Kavadarci – Pance Minov

 

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