07/07/2006 - Results
The main opposition party, the Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), led by Nikola Gruevski won the general elections that took place on 5th July winning 32.5% of the vote and 55 of the 120 seats in the Sobrania, the only chamber in Parliament (+27 seats in comparison with the last general elections on 15th September 2002). The liberal party won five of the country's six constituencies. The majority party in the outgoing government coalition, the Social Democrat Union (SDSM), led by outgoing Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski, won 23.3% of the vote and 33 seats (- 10). The New Social Democrat Party (NSDP) a leftwing party created after scission from the Social Democrat Union and the Liberal Democrat Party led by Tito Petkovski, won 8 seats. It is followed by the ultranationalists from VMRO-NARODNA, the dissident branch of the VMRO-DPMNE, that won 7 seats.
The Albanian speaking parties won 24 seats in all; 13 for the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI-BDI) led by Ali Ahmeti and member of the outgoing government coalition (-3) and 11 for the Albanian Democratic Party (PDA-PDSh), led by Arben Xhaferi (+ 4). The Albanian speaking population was not very motivated and only 40% of them turned out to vote.
The participation rate was low: 53.2%, ie 17.3 points less than during the last election on 15th September 2002. The start of the summer holidays might explain in part this disaffection of the ballot box. The President of the Republic, Branko Crvenkovski (SDSM) had however called on his fellow countrymen to fulfil their civic duty. "These elections mean more than just deciding who will lead the country in the years to come. Macedonia must prove its ability and democratic potential to take up the procedure of integration into the European Union and NATO," he declared during a televised speech just before the election. "I am expecting the country to show its democratic ability to pass the most important tests and to draw closer to the EU and NATO," maintained Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski. Indeed by means of these elections the country had to show that democracy is operating well so that it could enhance the credibility of its candidature for the European Union.
"Macedonians have proved their maturity and have made the right choice," said Nikola Gruevski, leader of the VMRO-DPMNE when the results were announced. He promised that his future government would be for all Macedonians. To win the majority in Parliament the VMRO-DPMNE will however have to ally itself with one of the two parties representing the country's Albanian speaking population (25% of the population). Although some political analysts expect the winning party to join up with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI-BDI), the outgoing government's coalition partner, others tend to think there will be a 'rapprochement' by the VMRO-DPMNE with the Albanian Democratic Party (PDA-PDSh), the party's traditional partner. Foreseeing that the task will be a difficult one, Nikola Gruevski maintains that "Macedonia will move forwards step by step" and forecasts "that the country will not remain one of the poorest and most corrupt in Europe for long."
"The opposition forces have won the greatest number of votes and support from the citizens. I congratulate Nikola Gruevski on his victory but Macedonia is the main victor in this election in that its citizens have shown that they can vote in honest, free elections," declared outgoing Prime Minister, Vlado Buckovski in a televised interview in which he admitted defeat. "We want to show the Macedonians that we shall be in Parliament to continue working in order that Macedonia integrates the European Union as quickly as possible," he added.
The Social Democrat Union's failure can be mostly explained by the country's poor economic results. "The economic situation has never been so bad in Macedonia's history," repeated the VMRO-DPMNE leader, Nikola Gruevski during the entire electoral campaign. The unemployment rate in the Balkan Republic has risen to 36% and the average salary is only 250 euros; the GDP per capita lies at 1,800 euros. The country's socio-economic situation comprised the central theme of the electoral campaign.
Although the weeks preceding the election were marked by a number of incidents (grenade explosions, destruction of buildings, violence between political adversaries), the election did however take place peacefully without any serious incident occurring. "We can say that these general elections took place in a free, honest, democratic atmosphere, apart from some very small problems," maintained Zoran Tanevski, a member of the National Electoral Commission's management.
After the election Macedonia was congratulated by the international community. The Organisation for Co-operation and Security in Europe (OSCE) said in a press release that the general elections took place "in a mostly democratic manner" but they did note however "some isolated case of serious infringements." "Whilst the general elections mostly took place according to international standards in terms of democratic elections violence and intimidation did throw a shadow over the electoral campaign," recalled the European organisation.
"I am pleased with electoral procedure which took place peacefully thereby heralding a new stage in the consolidation of the country's democracy. The high participation rate and the declarations made by the leaders of the various parties comprised important signs of the country's political maturity," declared European Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. "I am sorry that in some towns there were incidents during the electoral campaign and on the day of the vote. Enquiries must be undertaken into these incidents and the guilty parties must be punished," he added, concluding "the European Commission is totally determined to support Macedonia on its road to the European Union."
Finally, Nevlut Cavusoglu, head of the Parliamentary delegation of the Council of Europe stressed: "On 5th July Macedonians could decide on their country's political orientation in a way that was mostly democratic, and they did so." "Some serious but isolated cases of infringement should not overshadow the democratic progress which has been achieved. We are sorry that for some violence and manipulation are still the acceptable means to achieve their goals," he added. 493 international observers and 6,200 Macedonians monitored the election.
35 year-old Nikola Gruevski is to be the next Prime Minister. The former amateur boxer and theatre actor occupied the post of Finance Minister in the government led by Ljubco Georgievski (1998-2002). Leader of the Revolutionary Organisation –Democratic Party for National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) for the past year he worked as economic advisor to the Serb government with regard to privatisation after his party's defeat in the last general elections on 15th December 2002 (when he was Finance Minister, Nikola Gruevski was the craftsman of privatisation in Macedonia). He is believed to be more nationalist than his predecessor but the future Head of Government will however have to take care that his decisions and his actions are in line with European norms since joining the European Union comprises an absolute priority for the country's entire political community as well as its citizens.