Saturday, 15 December 2018 | News today: 1

SEC resumes work on final election day complaint


The State Electoral Commission (SEC) is set to meet on Saturday to decide on the last of the 16 complaints filed by the SDSM and BESA parties on the conduct of the elections. So far, all complaints were rejected except one filed by BESA, for a polling station in Gostivar, but even that could potentially change the outcome in the tight elections.

This complaint, for polling station 0396/1 in Gostivar, was adopted with six votes in favor and three against, after an elderly woman complained that she was not allowed to vote. Members of the local election council noticed that the woman had traces of ink on her finger, which is used to mark a person who already voted, and that her place in the voting registry was already signed, indicating that she was trying to vote for a second time. But, the SDSM appointed members of the SEC demanded a handwriting analysis, and decided that the signature in the registry is not hers.

Due to the way in which votes are distributed, VMRO-DPMNE holds a mandate in the 6th district by 300 votes, while the polling station in Gostivar has about 900 registered citizens, half of whom voted on Sunday. Even though the complaint is about the right to vote of only one citizen, the SEC ordered a full repeat of the voting. VMRO-DPMNE has raised the issue of the unusual turnout of ethnic Albanians in favor of SDSM, despite historic precedents that they vote for ‘Albanian’ parties such as DUI or DPA, which allowed the opposition social-democratic party to close up on VMRO-DPMNE. Therefore, the conservative party fears that a repeat of the voting could allow some voters in this station to switch from their initial preference, evening out the end result of the elections which VMRO-DPMNE won with 51 seats to SDSM’s 49. Hundreds of VMRO-DPMNE affiliated protesters were in front of the SEC, and pelted the building with firecrackers and booed loudly when the decision to repeat the new vote was made.

This decision is now up before the Administrative Court. VMRO-DPMNE Executive Committee official Nikola Todorov held a press conference on Friday to say that the SEC if falsifying the will of the people with its decision, and may well end up putting the members of the local electoral committee to prison for no good reason, over what is most likely an attempt by a woman to vote twice. “This amounts to post-election engineering which is done on someone’s orders. SEC members need to be aware of what they are doing”, Todorov said. Todorov also expressed doubt that the complaining voter, Fatime Sulejmani, was instructed by political factors to appeal to the SEC, even though she didn’t originally file a complaint with the local electoral commission, after they determined that she is trying to vote for a second time.

VMRO-DPMNE won the vote over SDSM by about 15.000 votes, and it believes that SDSM and BESA deliberately submitted frivolous complaints on the voting in districts where VMRO-DPMNE’s margin of victory is lowest, and could more easily be overturned. SDSM benefited from the unusually divergence of ethnic Albanian voters toward this party, and away from their historic preference of parties such and DUI and DPA. It comes after a tense campaign in which SDSM leader Zoran Zaev made promises of expanded use of the ethnic Albanian language and municipal competencies which VMRO-DPMNE sees as a step toward creating cantons or even separate federal units. SDSM officials say that they were able to attract about 70.000 Albanian voters to their side, in a first such development in Macedonian political history.