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At Least Seven Candidates to Run for President of North Macedonia

At least seven candidates will run in the presidential elections in North Macedonia on April 24. The deadline for the intended nominees to receive the necessary signatures from citizens expires on March 8.
It took just hours on Sunday for the current President Stevo Pendarovski, backed by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), and MP Gordana Siljanovska, a constitutional law professor supported by the VMRO-DPMNE, to collect the required minimum of 10,000 signatures each. Pendarovski and Siljanovska also have the signatures of at least 30 MPs from their respective parties, which is another option for nominating a presidential candidate.
The two are considered the front-runners in the campaign. They are expected to contest a likely runoff on May 8, just as in the previous presidential race in 2019, won by Pendarovski.
The verbal attacks between the two parties intensified after they both held congresses over the weekend. VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski expressed hope that the people of North Macedonia will help Pendarovski leave the country after the elections, as the incumbent president has said in a statement that everyone is leaving the country and he himself would live abroad if he was not president. For his part, Pendarovski promised to become a VMRO-DPMNE member if the opposition party comes to power and manages to persuade Bulgaria to amend its Constitution by inscribing the Macedonians as a national minority.
Political parties of ethnic Albanians in North Macedonia propose two doctors for president of the country. The opposition Albanian parties have named neurologist Arben Taravari, and the largest Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DSI), proposes the present Foreign Minister Bujar Osmani, who is an abdominal surgeon.
Taravari’s nomination changed the DSI’s plans for a consensus-based candidate with the SDSM, as in the 2019 elections, and the choice fell on Osmani. The Foreign Minister was the first candidate for president to collect the required minimum of 10,000 signatures by the end of the fourth day of the procedure. Taravari did that a day later.
Both blocs of Albanian parties in North Macedonia want the country’s president to be elected by the Assembly (parliament), not by direct vote, which requires amending the Constitution. They also share the view that Bulgarians in North Macedonia should be named in the Constitution as a condition for Skopje to start accession negotiations with the EU.
Three more candidates have gathered the necessary signatures as well: Maksim Dimitrievski, Mayor of Kumanovo; Stevco Jakimovski, Mayor of Karpos Municipality in Skopje and ex-minister of economy and labour; and Biljana Vankovska, a professor of political sciences who will be making her second attempt at the presidency.