Skopje: Macedonia`s ruling conservatives claimed a landslide victory in parliamentary and presidential elections, but the center-left opposition denounced what it called distorting interference in the democratic process by the ruling party and said it won`t recognize the results.
With 53 per cent of the votes in the parliamentary election counted, the conservatives, in power since 2006, lead with 42.31 per cent, while the Social Democrat-led leftist has 22.86 per cent, according to the State Election Commission web site late yesterday.
"The country is in safe hands. Nikola Gruevski remains the prime minister. Gjorge Ivanov remains the president. This is a victory for VMRO and the coalition `For a better Macedonia,`" Vlatko Gjorcev, a senior official of the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party told a throng of cheering supporters at the party`s headquarters late yesterday.
The ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integrations, or DUI, the conservatives` partner in the outgoing government, is credited with 16.40 per cent, while their main rival, the Democratic Party of Albanians, has 7.12 per cent. Turnout was 60.93 per cent.
In the election for the largely ceremonial office of the president, the conservative-backed incumbent, Gjorge Ivanov, lead with 56.88 per cent while his Social-democrat rival Stevo Pendarovski had 38.60 per cent, with 58 per cent of the cast ballots counted.
The turn-out for the presidential runoff is 50.60 per cent, reflecting an abstention by the ethnic Albanians, who comprise about a quarter of Macedonia`s population of 2.1 million.
Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev claimed shortly after polls closed that Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski`s conservative government had unfairly used state resources to influence the campaign for his own re-election and that of his political ally, Ivanov.
He has accused the ruling conservatives of "systematic abuse of the whole state system for their party interests, enormous pressure on civil servants, intimidation of the owners of (privately owned) companies and impudent misuse of the state broadcaster and most of the private media". He said civil servants were pressured to vote for the ruling conservatives or face losing their jobs.
"The government has once again usurped the democratic rights of citizens," Zaev said, calling for an "immediate establishment of (a) technical government that will conduct parliamentary and presidential elections."
It wasn`t immediately clear what effect Zaev`s statement would have.
Gruevski`s ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE immediately rejected the opposition claims, saying "Macedonia has had the most peaceful and democratic elections ever."