The State Electorl Commission published its final results on Sunday evening, after the second round of presidential elections.
It shows that Stevo Pendarovski, the SDSM – DUI presidential candidate, won with 51.66 percent of the vote, or 436.212 votes, against 44.73 percent (377.713 votes) for opposition VMRO-DPMNE candidate Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova.
A total of 30.437 ballots (3.6 percent) were invalid. Turnout was 46.7 percent, above the required threshold of 40 percent.
The map is largely painted red – VMRO won in most competitive districts, where ethnic Macedonians make the majority. Ethnic Albanians, while registering exceptionally low turnout rates – often half the national turnout – voted near unanimously for Stevo Pendarovski and overturned the result of the competitive races across the country.
A bellwether district like Skopje’s urban district of Aerodrom, had 55 percent turnout, and Siljanovska winning 19.000 votes against Pendarovski’s nearly 16.000, a swing in favor of VMRO after the municipality voted for SDSM in the 2017 municipal elections. Bitola was entirely open to competition – with 54.4 percent turnout, Siljanovska won Macedonia’s second city with 21.612 votes against 21.327 for Pendarovski, whose coalition managed to drop 10.000 Bitola votes compared to 2017. And in rural districts like Karbinci, turnouts were even higher, comparable to general elections – 64.5 percent voted, and Siljanovska won 1.054 votes against 905 for Pendarovski.
But in the majority Albanian districts the results are completely lopsided. Aracinovo, the largest majority Albanian suburb of Skopje, had a turnout of 32 percent. Pendarovski won 93.84 percent of the vote, a result to make North Korean elections seem competitive by comparison. His 2.909 votes in Aracinovo dwarfed Siljanovska’s 84 votes. In rural Albanian districts like Bogovine, just 16.7 percent voted. Siljanovski won 96.42 percent of the votes – or 4.450 votes in total, against 53 for Siljanovska.
The unanimous voting patterns among ethnic Albanians also influenced the outcome of cities which are majority Albanian or where Albanians are a significant minority. In Tetovo, one of the former cities, turnout was also low, 28.5 percent. Pendarovski won 16.544 votes, or nearly 70 percent, opposed to 6.400 for Siljanovska. Kumanovo is majority Macedonia, but the Albanian community is large enough to drag down the turnout and swing the balance of power. Turnout in Kumanovo was 44.3 percent, and Pendarovski won 53.5 percent of the votes, against 42.6 percent for Siljanovska.
Siljanovska won competitive races in Ohrid, Prilep, Bitola, Kavadarci, Veles, Negotino, Stip, Kocani.. In the capital Skopje, she won all majority Macedonian districts except for the left leaning central areas Centar and Karpos, painting the map red in the process. Besides Centar and Karpos, of the larger urban areas, Zoran Zaev won only his power center in Strumica on his own. All his other wins – Kumanovo, Resen, Kicevo, Gostivar, Tetovo, Struga – are attributable to ethnic Albanian voters, who support his SDSM party, but are not an integral part of it.
The elections were a defeat for VMRO-DPMNE, but given the eclectic nature of the coalition that backed Pendarovski, against a core base of VMRO supporters voting for Siljanovska, the opposition party declared itself to be the largest single political force in the country. This especially after a series of arrests, threats and intimidation aimed against its officials and activists, including on election day.