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UPDATE 1 - N. Macedonia's presidential election goes to runoff, Pendarovski leads

UPDATE 1 - N. Macedonia's presidential election goes to runoff, Pendarovski leads Author: Skopje Marriott Hotel/facebook.

SKOPJE (North Macedonia), April 22 (SeeNews) – Stevo Pendarovski, the candidate of North Macedonia’s ruling left-wing Social Democratic Alliance (SDSM), led in Sunday's presidential vote but fell short of outright victory and will go to a runoff on May 5, according to almost complete results released by the State Election Commission (SEC).

Based on 99.96% of the ballots counted, Pendarovski has won 42.85% of the vote, SEC data showed on Monday. 

To win in the first round, a candidate has to backed by more than 50% of all eligible voters.

In the second round of the elections, Pendarovski will face the candidate of opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, Gordana Siljanovska, who won 42.24% on Sunday.

Blerim Reka, the candidate of ethnic Albanian opposition parties, won 10.57% of the vote.

Voter turnout stood at 41.82%. Turnout of at least 40% is required for the results of the runoff to be valid.

Some 1.8 million voters were eligible to cast ballots in the presidential election choosing between the three candidates.

According to international monitors, presidential election in North Macedonia was well run and fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression were respected, and election day was peaceful, orderly and transparent.

However, wide-reaching electoral reform is still very much needed, the observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) said in a preliminary statement on Monday.

The voting showed that the political will can be found to hold democratic elections, said Sereine Mauborgne, special co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission, said.

“This constructive approach must be maintained through the second round and beyond. I sincerely hope that following these elections real effort will be made to enact a coherent electoral law and finally address the long existing challenges,” Mauborgne noted.