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The run-up to the April 5, 2009 presidential election in Macedonia
      Election Date: April 5, 2009

At stake: President


Macedonia was a part of Yugoslavia until it declared its independence in 1991. The new country became a member of the United Nations (UN) in 1993. Macedonia had to register in the UN under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), because Greece expressed concern over potential territorial claims to one of its provinces, which is also known as Macedonia.

The name dispute between Greece and Macedonia continues to this day. Greece has imposed two trade embargoes against the country as a result. The dispute has also harmed Macedonia’s aspirations to enter certain international bodies, such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) due to Greece’s veto power.

Macedonia has been split along ethnic groups—ethnic Albanians and Macedonians—since it was a part of Yugoslavia. In 2001, the country came close to a civil war, as representatives of the ethnic Albanian minority became engaged in a series of violent battles that forced many residents to flee. The conflict ended with a new constitution, which guarantees Albanian rights. Albanian became one of the country’s two official languages.

The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) governed from 1998 to 2002, after abandoning its nationalist image in favour of a more inclusive approach.

In the September 2002 elections, a center-left group came to power. Branko Crvenkovski of the Together for Macedonia coalition became the new prime minister.

In February 2004, Macedonian president Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash. In April , Branko Crvenkovski—who had served as prime minister—was elected to replace Trajkovski.

Click here for Macedonia 2004 Presidential Election Tracker

In August 2004, new legislation granted ethnic Albanians more local autonomy in certain regions.

Macedonia held an early legislative election in July 2006. Final results gave the right-of-centre VMRO-DPMNE 32.5 per cent of the vote, followed by the Social Democratic League of Macedonia (SDSM) with 23.3 per cent. In August, Nikola Gruevski became prime minister.

Gruevski decided to include the Democratic Party of Albanians (PDSH) in the new government instead of a coalition that had garnered more votes—the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) and the Democratic Prosperity Party (PPD)—which triggered protests in some parts of the country.

Click here for Macedonia 2006 Assembly Election Tracker

In December 2006, Macedonia officially became a candidate for EU membership.

In May 15, 2007, the VMRO-DPMNE became an observer-member of the European People’s Party (EPP).

During a NATO summit in April 2008, Greece blocked Macedonia’s invitation to join the alliance over the country’s name.

On Apr. 21, Macedonian president Branko Crvenkovski wrote a letter to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon to protest against Greece’s decision, saying it violated a 1995 accord that stipulated Greece would no block Macedonia’s bid to access NATO if it applied under its Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name.

On Apr. 8, just days after Macedonia’s NATO bid was trumped by Greece, the ethnic-Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) called for early elections to secure a stronger government capable of passing legislation on delicate issues. In a statement, the party declared: "The resolution of the name dispute with Greece and some other issues require the engagement and function of the institutions with full capacity which the government lacks."

On Apr. 11, Macedonian lawmakers voted in favour of dissolving the government and holding an early legislative ballot. The 2008 Assembly election marked the first time Macedonia held an early election. The legislature was not supposed to be changed until 2010.

In May 2008, the country’s main political parties announced the formation of large coalitions. The governing VMRO-DPMNE aligned with 18 minor parties to create For a Better Macedonia. The opposition Social Democratic League of Macedonia (SDSM) and eight other political organizations will contest the election as A Sun for European Macedonia.

Voting took place on Jun. 1. Violence broke out on election day, with several gunbattles leaving one person dead and eight wounded.

Gruevski declared victory, adding, "Macedonia has the power to go ahead. The country has the energy for progress to join NATO and EU."

Final results gave the For a Better Macedonia coalition 48.24 per cent of the vote and 64 seats, followed by A Sun for European Macedonia with 23.31 per cent and 28 mandates. Turnout was tabled at 58 per cent.

On Oct. 20, a Macedonian court sentenced nine ethnic Albanians to serve time in jail for their roles in the violence that marred the June legislative election.

2009 Presidential Election

Macedonia scheduled a presdential election for Mar. 23, 2009. Incumbent president Branko Crvenkovski of the Social Democratic League of Macedonia (SDSM) will not seek another term in office. Crvenkovski has been president since April 2002, when he stepped down as prime minister to assume his new role.

The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) have confirmed they will nominate a presidential candidate each.

The SDSM will reportedly anoint its party vice-president, Zoran Zaev, as its candidate.

On Oct. 23, the Macedonian government announced new election rules for presidential elections in a bid to improve its democratic credentials. Legislators lowered the minimum voter turnout in presidential election run-offs from 50 per cent to 40 per cent.

Macedonian justice minister Mihajlo Manevski referred to the constitutional amendment, saying, "Almost all presidential election runoffs in Macedonia were marred by irregularities and incidents."

On Nov. 5, Rafiz Aliti, a member of the Democratic Union for Integration, the ethnic Albanian partner in the government, commented on the victory of Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the United States presidential election on Nov. 4, saying, "This U.S. election sends a clear message that they have overcome all racial, religious and ethnic prejudices. That is a great message to all multi-ethnic countries and the democratic world showing that it is values that matter, instead of which community one belongs to."

In January, the VMRO-DPMNE nominated Gjorgje Ivanov as the party’s presidential contender. The SDSM chose former internal affairs minister Ljubomir Frckovski.

The other registered contenders are independent Ljube Boskoski, Agron Buxhaku of the Democratic Union for Integration, Mirushe Hoxha of the Democratic Party of Albanians, Imer Selmani of New Democracy, and Nano Ruzin of the Liberal Democratic Party.

On Feb. 23, Ivanov discussed his platform, saying, “I want political, ethnical and social consensus for European Atlantic integration to exist in Macedonia. Macedonia has to continue working on all necessary reforms, which are clauses for entering European Atlantic structures. An important step is the softening of the visa regime. In the next period, our energy will be pointed to starting negotiations for accession in EU. Macedonia will continue establishing good relations with its neighbours.”

Voting took place on Mar. 22. Final results gave Ivanov 35.06 per cent of the vote, followed by Frckovski with 20.45 per cent. Since no candidate surpassed the 50 per cent mark, a run-off would take place on Apr. 5.

Run-off voting took place on Apr. 5. Preliminary results suggested a victory for Ivanov with more than 60 per cent of all cast ballots. Ivanov declared: "Our first task will be to resolve the name issue with our southern neighbor Greece. I am sure we can find common interest and compromise. I am sure Greece will be cooperative on the issue."

Final results gave Ivanov 63.14 per cent of all cast ballots. Turnout for the second round was tabled at 42.89 per cent, barely ahead of the 40 per cent minimum to declare the election valid.

Political Players

President: Branko Crvenkovski - SDSM
Prime minister: Nikola Gruevski - VMRO-DPMNE

The president is elected to a five-year term by popular vote.

Legislative Branch: The Sobranie (Assembly) has 120 members, elected to four-year terms; 85 members are elected in single-seat constituencies, and 35 members are elected by proportional representation.

Results of Last Election:

President - Mar. 22 and Apr. 5, 2009

Mar. 22 Apr. 5

Gjorgje Ivanov - VMRO-DPMNE 35.06% 63.14%

Ljubomir Frckovski - SDSM 20.45% 36.86%

Imer Selmani - New Democracy 14.99% --

Ljube Boskoski - Independent 14.87% --

Agron Buxhaku - DUI 7.51% --

Nano Ruzin - LDP 4.05% --

Mirushe Hoxha - DPA 3.09% --

Assembly - Jun. 1, 2008

Vote % Seats

For a Better Macedonia
(Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization -Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity, Socialist Party of Macedonia, Democratic Union, Democratic Renewal of Macedonia, Democratic Party of Turks, Democratic Party of Serbs, Union of Roma in Macedonia, Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Macedonia, United Party for Emancipation, Party of Justice, Party of Democratic Action of Macedonia, Party of Vlachs of Macedonia, Party for Roma Integration, People’s Movement of Macedonia, Democratic Party of the Bosniaks, Party of the Greens, Democratic Union of the Roma, Workers’ Agricultural Party of the Republic of Macedonia, Party for Full Emancipation of the Roma)

48.24% 64

A Sun for European Macedonia
(New Social Democratic Party, Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party of Macedonia, New Alternative, Green Party of Macedonia, Party of Pensioners of the Republic of Macedonia, Democratic Union of Vlachs in Macedonia)

23.31% 28

Democratic Union for Integration

11.13% 13

Democratic Party of Albanians
10.52% 13

Party for European Future
1.45% --

Party for Democratic Prosperity
1.12% --

Albanian Democratic Union
0.72% --

Social Democratic Party of Macedonia
0.64% --

Party of Free Democrats
0.44% --

Father’s Macedonian Organization for Radical Renewal - Vardar-Egej-Pirin
0.43% --

Radical Party of the Serbs in Macedonia
0.43% --

Union of Tito’s Left Forces
0.39% --

Movement for National Unity of Turks
0.37% --

National Democratic Union
0.32% --

Group of Electors PM
0.27% --

Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party
0.24% --

Permanent Macedonian Radical Unification
0.19% --

Group of Electors PG
0.05% --
Source: Angus Reid Global Monitor : Election Tracker

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