Skopje, Jul 16 (efe-epa).- North Macedonia’s Social Democrats (SDSM) secured a slim margin over conservative rivals VMRO-DPMNE in parliamentary elections this week, according to results Thursday.
The country’s electoral commission said that, after 99 percent of ballots counted, SDSM, which ran in alliance with the small Albanian minority party BESA, secured 36.07 percent of the national vote while VMRO-DPMNE took 34.81.
The party of former prime minister Zoran Zaev, who stepped down at the beginning of the year, will now embark on the arduous task of landing a functioning coalition government.
Behind the two major blocs, the Albanian minority DUI party took 11.37 percent of the vote.
The results mean the SDSM have secured 46 seats in the country’s 120-seat parliament, while the conservatives of Hristijan Mickoski took 44 and the DUI took 15. A minimum of 61 seats is required to govern.
The parliamentary elections took place on Wednesday amid a fresh coronavirus outbreak in the country. The turnout was low at just 51 percent.
Zaev expressed his satisfaction with the results.
“Citizens have voted for a secure future, for unity and solidarity, for economic prosperity, for order and justice, for a better future,” he said.
Mickoski declined to make a public appearance but the general secretary of the party, Igor Janushev, said the conservative outfit would also push to forge a coalition.
The elections were deemed crucial to North Macedonia’s bid to become a European Union nation. The newly-renamed Balkan country is home to two million people.