Skopje: Residents of the northwestern Macedonian village of Tearce has voted in an election rerun that could tilt the national election result.
The rerun yesterday involved a single polling station with 714 registered voters in the village, 50 kilometers (31 miles) from the capital of Skopje. The rerun was ordered following complaints about voting irregularities from the opposition Social Democrats.
Only 307 votes separate the country's two main rivals nationally.
Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's conservative VMRO-DPMNE party won 51 seats in the 120-member parliament, while the Social Democrats claimed 49, leaving both needing a coalition partner to form a government.
In the annulled vote in Tearce, 404 registered voters cast ballots. VMRO-DPMNE won 91 votes to 87 for the Social Democrats, while the rest were split among four Albanian-minority parties.
The national election was called two years early as part of a Western-brokered deal to defuse a two-year political crisis sparked by a massive wiretapping scandal. The left-wing opposition blamed Gruevski for an illegal wiretapping operation targeting more than 20,000 people.
Voting went generally smoothly and ended at 7 p.M. Local (1800 GMT). Voting was halted for 15 minutes due to problems with the ultra-violet lamps used in the voting verification process. Election authorities use invisible spray on voters' thumb to mark them as having cast votes and check all voters with UV lamps to make sure they will not try to vote again.
Police said yesterday they got a report that two individuals allegedly tried to bribe an unidentified number of residents, offering them from 100 to 500 euros, in order not to vote.
The bribers allegedly asked for identity documents from voters as proof they will not cast the ballot. Authorities are investigating the allegations.
According to the monitors of civic organization "Civil", attempts have been made to bribe about 40 residents. Gruevski's VMRO-DPMNE-led conservative coalition had announced ahead of the vote they would not be taking part in the rerun and will not recognize the results.
Antonio Milososki, a VMRO-DPMNE senior official, has blamed the leftist opposition of trying to "falsify the electoral will of the citizens".
"They (the opposition) are trying with some reruns to manipulate or to create conditions for falsifying the will of the people," he said.
Results are expected later today.