Conservatives win Macedonia's polls, opposition cries foul

Update: April, 28/2014 - 10:41

SKOPJE – Macedonia's ruling conservatives scored a double victory in snap legislative and presidential polls on Sunday, officials said, as the opposition cried foul alleging vote fraud.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party won 42.27 per cent of the votes in the parliamentary election, state electoral commission said, based on more than 50 per cent of the count.

Its main rival, the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) garnered 22.8 per cent, preliminary unofficial results showed.

Incumbent Gjorge Ivanov of the VMRO-DPMNE won a fresh five-year mandate for a largely ceremonial presidential post with 56 per cent of the vote, according to the commission.

His SDSM rival Stevo Pendarovski won 39.49 per cent of the vote.

VMRO-DPMNE spokesman Vladimir Gjorcev told reporters that outgoing Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski "will remain the prime minister of Macedonia and Gjorge Ivanov remains the president".

"It is the victory for VMRO-DPMNE," he said.

Opposition cries foul

But shortly after polls closed, the SDSM party said it would not recognise the election.

"Citizens were duped and the elections have been stolen. The government has conducted unfair and non-democratic elections," SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told reporters.

Zaev called for new elections to be held, accusing the VMRO-DPMNE of "massive buying of votes" and "pressure exerted on citizens" to vote for the ruling party without detailing alleged irregularities.

It was unclear what would be the next moves by the opposition, as Zaev only said that the party "keeps all options open and the decision will be made in the coming days".

However Subhi Jakupi of the state electoral commission said no complaints on irregularities had been received.

"The parties have 48 hours to file complaints," Jakupi said.

International observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will present their assessment of the polls on Monday.

The polls were called a year ahead of schedule after the VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a joint presidential candidate.

Turnout was 60.8 per cent of the more than 1.7 million voters. -- AFP