Conservative group claims Macedonia local elections
SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia's conservative coalition won most of the local elections in the country with outside observers approving the process, but the opposition party's leader objected, declaring the elections “were not free and fair.”
Electoral Commission information from 98 percent of the votes shows the coalition “For a better Macedonia,” led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE party, won 43 of the country's 81 communities in the first round of elections on Sunday. The party notably won the election in the capital, Skopje, and is favored to win 12 runoffs.
Outside election monitors said the elections were “efficiently administered” but were also critical of some aspects.
Gruevski proclaimed victory early on Monday, adding that Macedonia had organized “free, fair and democratic elections that brought victory to all citizens and Macedonia,” which will help the country to strengthen its case for European Union membership.
But Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski, head of the left-wing opposition and a former president of Macedonia, said the elections “were not free and fair. Until all irregularities are cleared we have all options open, including not to participate in the rerun.”
The Social Democrats won five municipalities and are considered favorites to win another two in the runoffs. Members of the country's Roma, Serbian and Turkish communities each won a municipal election.
In a joint report, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe approved of the administration of the elections, saying they were “highly competitive” but stopped short of full approval of the process.
“Although the campaign was active, partisan media coverage and a blurring of state and party activities did not always provide a level playing field for candidates to contest the elections. Inter-ethnic tensions overshadowed the campaign. Election day was calm, although some procedural irregularities were observed,” the report said.
These “procedural irregularities” included dozens of cases described as “family voting” — with one family member openly guiding others as to which candidate to vote for, and voters seen taking photos of their ballots with cell phones — possibly to offer proof to people to whom they'd promised to vote a certain way.
The report claimed that “although the media ... provided extensive campaign coverage in the news, the public broadcaster and several private broadcasters displayed bias in favor of the governing coalition.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Official: Paris attacks organizer was planning more carnage
- Turkey shoots down Russian jet it says violated its airspace
- Philippines reappraises hoard of Marcos jewelry
- Vatican puts 5 on trial for leaks
- ISIS claims hotel attack in Egypt
- Tunisia put under state of emergency
- Settlement spat surfaces as Kerry visits Jerusalem
- Pakistani doctor who led CIA to bin Laden stuck in prison
- State Department issues global travel alert
- Using cellphones, Pakistan makes inroads in war against polio
- Russia says homemade explosive device brought down plane over Egypt