Macedonia ruling party tipped to win vote

Ruling conservatives likely to cement their grip on power in Sunday's snap elections despite a shaky economy.

Last updated: 27 Apr 2014 04:53
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The ruling party hopes to increase its tally in parliament to 62 seats out of 123 [AFP]

Macedonia's ruling conservatives are tipped to cement their grip on power in Sunday's snap election despite a shaky economy and a stalemate in the Balkan country's bid to join the EU.

In tandem with the parliamentary poll, Macedonians will also chose their future president in a run-off between incumbent Gjorge Ivanov of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE and his Social Democrat rival Stevo Pendarovski, the AFP news agency reported.

The legislative vote is being held a year ahead of schedule after the VMRO-DPMNE failed to agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner the DUI on a joint presidential candidate.

Opinion polls have given a strong lead both to Ivanov and the VMRO-DPMNE, which is credited with 28 percent of the vote against 15 percent for the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM), according to AFP.

The ruling party hopes to increase its tally in parliament to 62 seats out of 123 and enable Nikola Gruevski, its leader, to secure a third term as prime minister.

In the outgoing assembly, Gruevski's party had just 55 seats, which forced them into a coalition with several minor parties to ensure majority backing in parliament.

"The conservatives estimate that the opposition has neither the means nor the strength to win at this moment and want to ensure four additional years in power," said Aleksandar Damovski, an analyst.

The state of the economy has been at the heart of the election campaign.

GDP slid 0.4 percent in 2012, but rebounded last year with 3.1 percent growth on the back of fresh construction projects and growing exports and is forecast at three percent this year.

But with an unemployment rate in excess of 28 percent in the country of two million people and an average monthly salary of $480, ordinary Macedonians remain gloomy about their prospects.


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