Friday, 15 December 2017 | News today: 7

SEC says Tearce voting was calm and fair, didn’t alter its initial projection of seats in Parliament

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The State Electoral Commission (SEC) held a press conference late on Sunday evening to announce that, following the repeat of voting in a polling station in the village of Tearce, there are no changes in their initial projection of seats in Parliament. The conservative VMRO-DPMNE will have 51 seats, while the social-democratic party SDSM is behind them with 49 seats in the next Parliament.

Other parties, that mainly represent ethnic Albanians, are DUI with 10 seats, BESA with 5, the Alliance of Albanians with 3 and DPA with 2 seats.

“SEC will give the certificates to the elected members of Parliament from districts where elections are final no later than Wednesday, December 28th. If there are no complaints regarding the vote that was held today, we will give the certificates to representatives from district 6 on the same day”, said SEC President Aleksandar Chichakovski. According to him, the vote on Sunday in polling station 2011 in Tearce was held in a calm and fair atmosphere. A total of 402 citizens voted, which amounts to 56,3 percent of the total. Given that Tearce, like much of the 6th district, has a lot of people living abroad, turnout was not expected to go much above 50 percent.

SDSM and their coalition won 245 votes, VMRO-DPMNE got 149 votes, and the other parties won up to two votes, or none at all. In total, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE won some 18.000 votes more than the social-democratic SDSM party, which was boosted by estimated 70.000 ethnic Albanian voters who broke with their traditional allegiance to “Albanian parties” such as DUI and DPA. After initial projections showed VMRO-DPMNE winning by two seats in Parliament, SDSM and another party, BESA, demanded a repeat of voting in several polling stations in the 6th electoral district, in Macedonia’s north-west, where according to the distribution of votes VMRO-DPMNE held on a member of Parliament ahead of SDSM by only 300 votes.

The State Electoral Commission refused most of these requests which were filed over minor, technical irregularities, but the Administrative Court accepted the SDSM demand to repeat the vote in station 2011 in Tearce. The vote in Tearce was repeated because one ballot was mistakenly ripped together with a piece of paper that was supposed to remain with the commission, and could have identified who that voter voted for. Also, a book kept to determine whether everything was in order at the start of the vote on December 11th was missing. VMRO-DPMNE said that these are minor issues that should not lead to a repeat of voting that would give the citizens a chance to change their originally expressed will, while according to SDSM, this was enough for everybody to vote anew.

Over several tense days there were reports of pressure put on voters from all sides and on election day parties catering mostly to ethnic Albanians lost all their support as citizens tried to make their votes count by voting either for VMRO-DPMNE or SDSM. In the first round of voting, on December 11th, VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM each won between 80 and 90 votes, while other parties also won dozens of votes. This Sunday, all the votes focused at one or the other of the two large parties. Despite all their efforts, which included constant campaigning in the village, SDSM were unable to break the 300 votes difference which VMRO-DPMNE held over them in the proportionate distribution of seats.

Before the decision to repeat the vote in Tearce was made, VMRO-DPMNE warned diplomats against meddling in the work of the SEC or the Administrative Court, and said that they will not recognize institutions formed without the required legitimacy – saying outright that the repeated voting in Tearce is an attempt to engineer the results after the elections. On the other side, one of the reasons why SDSM pushed so strongly to repeat this vote was that the party leader Zoran Zaev promised he will resign from all his political offices if the party loses in the elections even by one vote in Parliament. On Sunday evening, SDSM spokesman Petre Shilegov, who also led the party’s list of candidates in the 6th district, tried to play down the outcome of the vote and the projection of seats in Parliament, saying it was mostly symbolic.

“We will listen to the message sent by the people of Tearce, and that is the same message sent by the rest of the citizens. We will have a responsible Government, one that will introduce democratic changes in the country and institutions that will respond to the needs of the citizens. At the beginning of this mini campaign, I said that this vote is mostly symbolic and will not have influence on who will form the next Government”, Shilegov told the press in Tearce.

VMRO-DPMNE responded with a press release. “As far as VMRO-DPMNE was concerned, the elections were finished on December 11th. Today, the entire public saw how the people of Tearce resisted all pressure that was put on them and prevented this attempt for post-election engineering. We congratulate them. As winners in the elections, we remain dedicated to the future steps toward forming the next Government”. VMRO-DPMNE also reminded SDSM on their earlier statement, in which they asked the social-democratic party to congratulate to the citizens and to the winners of the elections.