Narrow win for conservatives but uncertainty lingers

By Jasmina Mironski and Rachel O’Brien, AFP

SKOPJE, Macedonia–Macedonia’s ruling conservatives edged a narrow victory against the opposition in a weekend election aimed at ending the Balkan country’s instability, results showed on Monday. With votes counted at nearly 100 percent of polling stations the VMRO-DPMNE party of longtime ruler Nikola Gruevski had a narrow lead of 1.37 percent over the Social Democrats (SDSM). Late on Monday the electoral commission announced that the VMRO-DPMNE would have 51 MPs, two more than the SDSM. With the result so close, the political uncertainty that has plagued the nation looks set to continue, particularly as both the VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM had claimed victory on Sunday night. The main ethnic Albanian political force, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), which has long been the junior coalition partner of the rulers, came third with 10 seats and could provide the VMRO-DPMNE a very fragile parliamentary majority.

Three more minor ethnic Albanian parties share the remaining 10 seats. “This neck-and-neck situation proves one thing for sure, that the political crisis is far from over,” Marko Troshanovski, head of the Institute for Democracy think-tank, said before the distribution of seats was known. “After the election we can expect another political crisis … that will have to be solved in new parliamentary elections sooner or later,” he told AFP.