Right-wing candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova wins first round of presidential elections in North Macedonia

Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova wins North Macedonia's presidential election, securing 41.1% of the vote, indicating a strong opposition to the SDSM's pro-EU agenda.

Right-wing candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova wins first round of presidential elections in North Macedonia
Photo Source: By Markus Winkler, August 29th, 2019

26-04-2024

Oona Carteron

Women’s Rights Researcher,

Global Human Rights Defence.

 

Opposition candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova secured a resounding victory after the first round of North Macedonia’s presidential elections. With a decisive margin, she obtained 40.1 percent of the vote, over twice the amount received by the current officeholder, Stevo Pendarovski.

 

The two competing candidates representing the divided Albanian Community in the country, Bujar Osmani from the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), and Arben Taravari from the European Alliance for Change won 13.36 percent and 9.21 percent of the votes respectively. (1) The decision to stir away from Pendarovski’s SDSM coalition and to split the Albanian representation, undoubtedly created a compelling void, paving the way for VMRO-DPMNE's candidate to significantly outpace the competition in the voting results. Former SDSM MP Maxim Dimitrievski of the Movement for Our Macedonia achieved fourth place with 9.26 percent, followed by Levica’s candidate Biljana Vankovska with 4.55 percent. Far behind Stevco Jakimovski of the small Citizens Option for Macedonia won only 0.9 percent.

 

With no candidate having achieved over 50 percent, the top two contenders, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova and Stevo Pendarovski will compete in a second round which will be held on May 8, alongside the high-stakes general election. (2) If Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova is elected, she will become the first woman to hold the presidential position in the nation's history. The VMRO-DPMNE candidate’s victory is anticipated to greatly influence the results of the upcoming general elections. However, the winning party is likely to face obstacles as the results’ legitimacy is weakened by the low voter turnout which, although 8 points higher than the 2019 elections, only reached 49 percent. (3)

 

The conservative party’s victory also sends a strong message against the SDSM’s pro-EU agenda, as the campaign largely revolved around North Macedonia’s potential accession. Indeed, Bulgaria continues to obstruct ongoing EU membership negotiations with Skopje. An earlier agreement negotiated by France during its presidency of the Council of the EU, imposed the revision of the country’s constitution to acknowledge a Bulgarian minority in the preamble as a sine qua non condition to lift Bulgaria’s veto of North Macedonia accession to the EU. This deeply contentious matter, due to the intertwined histories and cultures of both countries, requires a two-thirds vote in Parliament. VMRO-DPMNE has repeatedly denounced what is perceived as a Bulgarian ‘diktat’ and reiterated its refusal to pass the reform, de facto blocking the country’s accession. (4) In the same way, the party’s heavy criticism of the Greek deal and its ongoing persistence in publicly using ‘Macedonia’ instead of the new official ‘North Macedonia’ appellation, is likely to be seen as a provocation by Athens and threatens to reignite tensions between the two countries. VMRO-DPMNE’s hardline stance against constitutional change will further block EU negotiations and is likely to deter other parties, such as its ethnic Albanian partners, from being part of its future coalition government. Nevertheless, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova’s election speech’s strong pro-Europe references bring hope for North Macedonia’s European future.

Sources and further readings:

(1) Marusic, S. (2024, April 25). Opposition Candidate Wins First Round of North Macedonia’s Presidential Vote. BalkanInsights, Retrieved 2024, April 25 from https://balkaninsight.com/2024/04/25/opposition-candidate-wins-first-round-vote-for-north-macedonia-presidency/

(2) Ahmatovic, S.  (2024, April 25). North Macedonia election: Candidate aiming to be first female president  takes lead into runoff. POLITICO, Retrieved 2024, April 25 from https://www.politico.eu/article/center-right-presidential-candidate-wins-first-round-vote-in-north-macedonia/

(3) EURACTIV. (2024, April 25). North Macedonia nationalist rides high in first round of presidential election. EURACTIV, Retrieved 2024, April 25 from https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/north-macedonia-nationalist-rides-high-in-first-round-of-presidential-election/ 

(4) Lafond, F. (2024, April 17). Macédoine du Nord: les élections, les voisins et l’Europe. Telos,  Retrieved April 25, 2024, April 25 from https://www.telos-eu.com/fr/politique-francaise-et-internationale/macedoine-du-nord-les-elections-les-voisins-et-leu.html