North Macedonia opposition wins big on election night

Aleksandar VasovicReuters
VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski branded the election win a historic victory for the people. (AP PHOTO)
Camera IconVMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski branded the election win a historic victory for the people. (AP PHOTO) Credit: AP

North Macedonia's right-wing opposition has won big in parliamentary and presidential elections, on a night that saw the Balkan country also elect its first female head of state.

Hundreds of jubilant supporters of the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party braved the rain outside their party headquarters in downtown Skopje on Wednesday, waving national and party flags and dancing to folk music.

"Dear people of (North) Macedonia ... we have made it. Macedonia won. This is a historic victory of the people," VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski told the crowd.

Results from the election commission showed VMRO-DPMNE held 42 per cent of votes with 72 per cent of votes counted in the parliamentary poll, versus 14 per cent for SDSM, prompting SDSM leader Dimitar Kovacevski to concede defeat.

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"The result is disappointing and this is a big blow to SDSM," Kovacevski told a news conference in which he also called for a thorough overhaul of his party.

Voters in the Balkan country of two million people have become frustrated with the sluggish advance of its bid to join the European Union, which was greeted with optimism in 2005 but has since become an emblem of North Macedonia's lost promise.

Enduring corruption and slow development have also soured voters against the ruling party.

In the run-off vote for the more ceremonial role of president, Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, a university professor who was backed by the VMRO-DPMNE, beat the SDSM-backed incumbent Stevo Pendarovski in a landslide.

Siljanovska-Davkova had 65 per cent of votes versus 29 per cent for Pendarovski, with more than 87 per cent of votes counted.

"I was asking myself why did I deserve such a honour?" Siljanovska-Davkova told reporters shortly after being voted in as the country's first female president.

"The reward is priceless for me, this is a huge responsibility."

The opposition will likely need to form coalitions with smaller partners to win a majority in parliament. Discussions are expected to take place in the coming days.

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