14/04/2004 - Results - 2nd round
Branko Crvenkovski (Social Democratic Union of Macedonia, SDSM) won the second round of the presidential election in Macedonia on 28th April 2004, winning 62.66% of the vote, versus 37.34% for his rival Sasko Kedev (Democratic Party for National Unity, VMRO-DPMNE). The participation rate, that had to be over 50% of the registered electorate in order for the election to be declared valid, rose to 53.39% according to the results that were published by Stevo Pendarovski, president of the Electoral Commission.
As soon as the results were announced the candidate for the Democratic Party for National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) questioned the participation rate figures believing that this presidential election represented "the greatest transgression of democracy and the greatest fraud in the history of sovereign, independent Macedonia." Sasko Kedev also maintained his desire the lodge a complaint with the Electoral Commission, that he could only do during the 48 hours following the election, to request the invalidation of the election. "We shall present real proof of electoral fraud, the game is not over, we will not acknowledge the self-proclaimed president of Macedonia," declared Sasko Kedev, adding, "Branco Crvenkovski will never be acknowledged as President and will have no legitimacy". The VMRO-DPMNE addressed a letter to the OSCE and EU representatives as well as the ambassadors of Russia and various Western countries to denounce these irregularities. According to this party the participation rate only reached 44% i.e. a figure below the minimum required by electoral law to validate the election.
The second round of the presidential election was followed by 240 observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as well as 4,000 local observers. According to Carlos Pais, the head of the observation assignment of the OSCE, the election was marked by major irregularities but that were nevertheless "local" in a small number of polling stations. "The problems that were identified were greater than during the first round, involving group or proxy voting and extending to ballot box cramming," he declared.
The European Commission acknowledged the election of the new president Branko Crvenkovski. The High Representative for the Common Foreign Security Policy, Javier Solana, was pleased with the "successful completion of this election," in which he witnessed "an example of maturity and responsibility" of the Macedonian people. "It is the victory of the leaders committed to the application of the Ohrid Agreement and a vote in favour of Europe. It is also a positive sign for the region. The people have spoken: there is no longer any doubt that Skopje is now the capital of a multiethnic, democratic state that works," he maintained, concluding, "we shall continue to help the country on its way towards the European Union."
Branko Crvenkoski, who was Prime Minister up until now, succeeds the Boris Trajkovski as President of the Republic, after the latter died in a plane crash on 26th February last. The leader of the Social Democrat Alliance is a trained engineer and 41 years old; he already has a long political experience to his credit. He was appointed Prime Minister in 1992 when he was just 29 years old but was ousted from power six years later during the general elections in 1998 - at the time his political party had been accused of corruption. He took leadership of the government again in September 2002 after the general elections that were organised after the signing of the peace agreement ending seven months of conflict between the government forces and the Albanian guerrilla.
For this presidential election, Branko Crvenkovski focussed his campaign on his country's integration into the EU and NATO as well as on the establishment of good relations between the Macedonian and Albanian communities. The Democratic Union for Integration (PDI), an Albanian speaking member of the government coalition had called for a vote in favour of the Prime Minister. The Democratic Albanian Party (PDA), the other Albanian speaking party had not provided any hint on how their electorate should vote but they did however appeal for a boycott of the election. For its part the Movement of Turks had decided to support Sasko Kedev.
"Macedonia has passed another democratic test. Today there is neither a victor nor a loser. The only losers are those who called for a boycott of the election. Macedonia has shown that it would not turn back the clocks and that its future is resolutely in Europe," declared the new President adding that he wanted to be President of all Macedonians.
Although today the country is pacified the conflict in 2001 between Macedonians and Albanians affected the country's economy severely. The lack of capital and direct foreign investment obviously effect the general economic situation. Over the last few months Branko Crvenkovski managed to win back the confidence of the international financial organisations and his government has worked hard to stabilise the State budget and to gain control of the country's foreign debt. However the results of this policy are barely visible in the eyes of the population that is heavily effected by unemployment (35% of the working population is unemployed) and poverty (600,000 Macedonians live below the poverty line).
The new President would like Macedonia to continue its effort along the road that he personally defined. "We should be logical to the end, investments will not come if we cannot create political and inter-ethnic stability again and if we have not succeeded in re-establishing healthy communication with the international community, Europe as well as with our neighbours. No investor will want to place his money in a country with an uncertain future. Happily Macedonia's future is at present one of the most serene and secure. Thanks to our policy Macedonia is now a safe partner and because of this the country will attract more investments and thereby create new jobs," Branko Crvenkovski declared during his electoral campaign.
Between the two rounds of the election the VMRO-DPMNE candidate warned the population that with the election of Branko Crvenkovski, the SDSM would have a concentration of power in its hands (Presidency and government). Although Sasko Kedev, unknown to the public before the election, can be proud of having achieved a respectable result during this presidential election, it remains however that in spite of the problems that the government is undergoing at present, the Democratic Party for National Unity VMRO-DPMNE, the main opposition party, does not appear to be in a position to present a true alternative to the policy led by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia.