The deadline for collecting signatures of presidential candidates for the upcoming elections is approaching, concurrently with the registration deadline for voting in the diaspora. According to the State Election Commission’s schedule, the signature collection deadline is March 8, while diaspora voter registration closes on March 18.

As of the latest announcements, a total of 13 candidates are vying for the seventh presidential election scheduled for April 24.

The SDSM leadership has endorsed the current head of state, Stevo Pendarovski, for a second presidential term. However, this decision must undergo approval from internal party bodies. On the other hand, VMRO-DPMNE is proposing Professor Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, Pendarovski’s past opponent in the second round of elections. Both candidates await confirmation at their respective party conventions scheduled for early March.

Candidates registered with the State Election Commission include Bujar Osmani from DUI, Maxim Dimitrievski from the Movement ZNAM-Za Nasha Macedonia, Stevco Jakimovski (leader of GROM), Professor Biljana Vankovska as a candidate for the Left, Arben Taravari from the Albanian opposition coalition VREDI, and Mersiha. Additionally, Bujar Osmani is supported by the Bosniak Democratic Union (BDS), and Velo Markovski, though a member of VMRO-DPMNE, declared independent candidacy for president in October last year.

Four others, namely Tome Nikolovski, Mr. Popovski, Gjorgi Manaskov, and Zorica Cvetkovska, have initiated efforts to collect citizen signatures for the SEC.

As of yesterday, according to SEC President Aleksandar Dashtevski’s statement in “Top Topic,” no complaints regarding inappropriate conditions during signature collection have been submitted. He emphasized that any such reports would be promptly addressed. Dashtevski also mentioned no complaints about the premature start of the campaign but urged political parties to adhere to procedures and stay within the bounds of the law.The collection of signatures is taking place in all regional departments and offices of the SEC, located in the headquarters of 34 local governments and in front of competent notaries. When a group of voters submits a list of presidential candidates, they must collect a minimum of 10,000 signatures from registered voters on the Electoral List. If deputies submit a list, they need to gather at least 30 signatures from fellow deputies.

The signature collection procedure, which began yesterday, will continue daily. Regional departments will operate in two shifts, from 8 am to 8 pm, and on the last day, March 8, they will work until 12 am.

Initiating the signature collection requires submitting a notification and statement to the SEC by the proposed candidate or a person authorized by them, with a general notification certified by a notary public.

Participants in the elections must submit lists of candidates for the president of the state to the SEC no later than midnight on March 19. This deadline applies to both the presidential and parliamentary elections. The presidential elections are scheduled for April 24, with the second round on May 8, coinciding with the parliamentary elections.