Voting stations open across Macedonia this morning in the first round of the presidential elections. Some 1.8 million citizens are eligible to vote and choose between three presidential candidates – Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova (VMRO-DPMNE), Stevo Pendarovski (SDSM/DUI) and Blerim Reka (AA/BESA).

A candidate needs to win over 50 percent of the total number of eligible citizens to be elected in the first round. If no candidate wins the required 904.066 votes, the best placed candidates move to a second round on May 5th. The winner is the candidate who gets most votes, provided that at least 40 percent of the total number of voters have voted.

Voting takes place in 3.480 polling stations, mostly in local schools and municipal buildings. Local and international observers are in place to follow the hotly contested election. Municipal elections are also held in Ohrid, Debar and Novo Selo – the Mayors in the first two cities died in office, while the Novo Selo Mayor was removed after being sentenced for cigarette smuggling.

Several thousand people who requested to vote at home voted on Saturday, as did about a thousand prisoners and a similar number of Macedonian citizens living abroad who voted in diplomatic missions.

The results are expected within hours after voting ends, and turnout numbers will be disclosed throughout the day.