Results of the municipal elections
Macedonia's reformist government coalition claimed victory on Monday in the second round of local elections, which international observers said had fallen short of democratic norms. The largest opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), claimed a moral victory, saying it had won most major urban centres, including Skopje (Shkup).
A spokesman for the government coalition said that out of 124 contested mayoral races, 55 went to the two ethnic Macedonian coalition partners, VMRO-DPMNE and Democratic Alternative (DA). The third member of the government coalition, the ethnic Albanian PDSh (Democratic Party of Albanians, which ran separately), said it had won 22 seats. This compared with 35 mayoral contests to which the opposition SDSM laid claim.
Unofficial results in 47 races released from the second round indicate the following results: VMRO-DPMNE & DA, 30 seats; SDSM, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), LD and SPM, 6; DPA and NDP, 2; PDP, 1; other, 3; and unclear, 4 (figures from the Macedonian Information Agency).
OSCE report on municipal elections
The preliminary report on the second-round elections in Macedonia has been published by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
The report indicates certain improvements over the first round of voting, but Macedonia still has not met all standards for democratic elections stipulated in the OSCE Copenhagen Document. OSCE Ambassador Charles Magee, announcing publication of the report, noted that Macedonia failed to organise elections free from violence and intimidation and with guaranteed secrecy of vote, thereby failing to reach the criteria to which it had committed itself as an OSCE member state.
In general, voting was conducted peacefully although marred by a tense atmosphere, many irregularities (primarily unlawful filling of ballot boxes and group voting) and violence in certain constituencies. Wherever such violations were observed, voting had to be suspended. Unlike during the first round, such cases were not confined to a single region, but occurred wherever there was a head-to-head race for the mayoral office.
The OSCE-ODIHR mission also directed criticism at the State Election Commission, citing the financial organization of the elections and the delay before results were issued. Media coverage of the election campaign was deemed generally good, with the exception of MTV (Macedonia Television), which was felt to have favoured candidates of the governing coalition.
The Association of NGOs "Citizens for Citizens" (Gradjani za gradjani) estimated that the general atmosphere was more tense this time than during the first round of voting. The Association expressed its disgust at the violence directed at some of its observers who were prevented from doing their job. Re-runs in individual municipalities are expected to continue until Easter, but the results will not affect the overall outcome of the elections.
EP to debate Albanian education
A1 TV reports that the European Parliament will debate a resolution in support of Albanian-language university education in Macedonia on Monday, 2 October.
The resolution, which encompasses the controversial issues of the van der Stoel proposals and the recently passed University Education Act, is expected to provoke heated debate, with the right wing set to insist the document should stipulate explicit support for the governing coalition and criticism of the opposition, and the left wing ready to offer strong opposition.
Whether the EP will pass the resolution remains uncertain.
A1 TV attributes the presentation of the resolution to good relations between PDSh leader Arben Xhaferi and Olivier Dupuis, Member of the European Parliament from the Transnational Radical Party, a co-sponsor of the resolution.
In, out & passing through
A government delegation led by Prime Minister Ljubčo Georgievski is about to complete its visit to Stockholm. During the visit, Georgievski has met with Göran Persson, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sweden. Sweden takes over the EU presidency on 1 January next year.
The delegation, which included Minister of Labour and Social Policy and Deputy Prime Minister Bedredin Ibraimi, Foreign Minister Aleksandar Dimutrov and Minister of Economy Borko Andreev, also visited Brussels for talks with top Belgian officials. A meeting between Georgievski and Chris Patten, European Union (EU) Commissioner for External Relations, focused on the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) between Macedonia and the EU, due to be signed in October.
Following successful cardiac surgery, Vice-President Vasil Tupurkovski returned to Skopje on Thursday from the USA. "I was released from the hospital without any restrictions, on the condition that I observe some of the doctors' suggestions... this means that I can fully dedicate myself to my work," Tupurkovski said on arrival at Skopje airport.
Tupurkovski will return to work fully next week, when he will lead the Macedonian delegation at the final round of negotiations in Brussels for signing the Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the EU.
Savo Klimovski, president of the Assembly of Macedonia, met on Friday with a delegation of the Bulgarian Parliament led by speaker Jordan Sokolov. The meeting focused on bilateral relations and coordination of legislation in regard to regional projects such as Corridor 8.
Klimovski said that Macedonia is in a significant period of development, as it would soon sign the SAA with the EU and complete the privatisation process. Both officials expressed satisfaction with the excellent cooperation between the two Parliaments.
Eleanor Pritchard, 30 September 2000
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