Conservatives win twin polls in Macedonia
SKOPJE - The Associated Press
PM Gruevski raises his fist announcing a double victory in two elections. AP PhotoPrime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s ruling center-right party has won its fourth consecutive general election victory in Macedonia, but looks likely to fall just short of gaining an outright majority. The main opposition Social Democrats have refused to recognize the result.
With 99.9 percent of votes counted, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE had 42 percent and 61 seats - one short of the number needed to get a majority in the 123-member parliament. The Social Democrat-led opposition alliance got 24.9 percent and 34 seats, according to the State Election Commission. Turnout was 64 percent. In a separate vote, conservative President Gjorge Ivanov won a second five-year term for the largely ceremonial post, beating Social Democrat opponent Stevo Pendarovski in a runoff.
The opposition has accused Gruevski of state interference in election campaigning - including alleged threats made to civil servants to back the government - and said it would not recognize the results of either poll. VMRO denied the claims and its supporters celebrated in the streets of the capital Skopje, waving red party flags. Gruevski called the general elections a year early, gambling on the success of his economic stimulus program in this country of 2.1 million citizens.