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Rhetoric in North Macedonia Heats Up amid Election Campaign, Opposition Suspects Possible Boycott of Presidential Runoff

The results of the first round of the presidential race in the Republic of North Macedonia have given new impetus to the campaign for the parliamentary elections, which will be held simultaneously with the presidential runoff on May 8. VMRO-DPMNE candidate Gordana Siljanovska’s strong lead in the race has escalated the party’s rhetoric and prompted VMRO-DPMNE’s leading candidates and its Chair, Hristijan Mickoski, to speak of a full voter mobilization to push the largest Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), into opposition. In Mickoski’s words, DUI is running the country and has ruled the SDSM for the last 12 years.
Since day one of the first round of the presidential vote, Mickoski has talked of a possibility of SDSM and DUI boycotting the runoff. He noted that according to North Macedonia’s Constitution, if voter turnout in the presidential runoff does not reach the threshold of at least 40%, the elections are considered unsuccessful, and no matter who received how many votes, no president is elected. In Mickoski’s words, the two parties want to deliberately trigger a constitutional crisis. The VMRO-DPMNE Chair also argued that SDSM Chair Dimitar Kovacevski may leave it up to DUI leader Ali Ahmeti to determine which ministries his party will take if they form a government again.
During the election campaign in the municipalities of Saraj and Čučer-Sandevo, SDSM Chair Dimitar Kovacevski denied that he and the DUI were planning to boycott the second round of the presidential elections.
The two Albanian blocs have not announced which of the two presidential candidates they will back in the runoff.
On May 8, North Macedonia will hold both a presidential runoff, which will be contested by VMRO-DPMNE’s Gordana Siljanovska or SDSM’s Stevo Pendarovski, who received the most votes in the first round on April 24, as well as parliamentary elections with the participation of 17 political parties and coalitions.