IVANOV IS LEADING IN PEACEFUL ELECTIONS
According to initial, unofficial results the State Election Commission (SEC) has been presenting at the Parliament's Press Center, VMRO-DPMNE presidential candidate Gjorgi Ivanov is in the lead with 19,708 votes.
SDSM candidate Ljubomir Frckoski holds the second place, followed by independent presidential hopeful Ljube Boskoski, New Democracy - Imer Selmani, DUI - Agron Buxhaku, LDP - Nano Ruzin and DPA - Mirushe Hoxha.
These results are based on data from 472 polling stations. VMRO-DPMNE announced their two mayoral candidates won in Bitola and Prilep.
overall the election went "peacefully and in a democratic atmosphere with minor exceptions," the State Election Commission head, Aleksandar Novakovski said at a press conference. The turnout until 1700 CET was 48 percent, the commission said.
The snow prevented some 12,000 people in certain mountainous vilages, less than one percent of the total voters, to vote as the balloting did not start in 103 out of the nearly 3000 ballot stations, the commission said.
The largest association of domestic monitors, MOST also assessed the vote as generally fair and democratic with few minor, mainly technical and administrative flaws. They have been monitoring the process with over 3000 observers out of almost 7,500 present at the ballots. The police presence was also evident at all ballot stations.
The election is being closely monitored in the West which has previously warned the country that it could face years of delay in its bid to join the European Union if there is a repeat of last year’s election-related violence. In June 2008, violence erupted between rival ethnic Albanian parties during the vote leaving one person dead and several wounded.
In statements given prior to the closing of the vote, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the largest international monitoring group, and the key western ambassadors to the country also expressed that they were content with the way the elections were held.