А tight race of the Albanian parties expected in the second round of the local elections

 

The results of the first round of the local elections didn’t produce clear advancement of the parties of the ethnic Albanians in Macedonia and their candidates for mayors towards the electoral victory in the main municipalities: Tetovo, Chair, Gostivar and Struga. The dominant perception of the politicians and the experts is that the Albanian parties are about to have a rather uncertain competition and all kinds of combinations and alliances are possible

 

Author: Olivera Vojnovska

 

Without doubt, the main battle in the second round of the local elections will be fought between the Albanian political parties. On Sunday (15 October 2017), the victory was clearly claimed by the social-democrats who, according to State Election Commission’s (SEC) preliminary results, won 38 mayoral offices and their candidates for mayors lead the race before VMRO-DPMNE in 14 municipalities. On the other hand, the runoff will be decisive for Albanian parties’ mayoral candidates in most municipalities with dominant Albanian population. Only two of these municipalities, Kichevo and Plasnica, got their new mayors in the first round, both members of DUI. All other mayoral candidates (with Albanian political background) will continue the race for mayor’s office in Struga, Tetovo, Gostivar, Chair, Debar, Saraj, Lipkovo, Tearce, Bogovinje, Vrapchishte, Dolneni, Zhelino, Studenichani for two more weeks.

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COALESCING OPTIONS

The dominant perception of the politicians and the experts is that the Albanian parties are about to have a rather uncertain competition and all kinds of combinations and alliances are possible.

Political analyst Xhelal Neziri believes that the first round results solved almost nothing as to which party will take the mayoral offices in Tetovo, Chair, Gostivar and Struga, and these municipalities are indicators of the parties’ position therein.

There wasn’t an electoral showdown between them in Kichevo because the only candidate was nominated by DUI, who won in the first round. In fact, everything remains to be solved in the runoff, when the coalescing capacities of each party individually will play a decisive role.

Neziri points out that the number of votes the parties won for their lists of councilors lead to the conclusion that “DUI has stopped the downfall that began in 2014, which culminated with halving the votes in 2016”.

The support has been mildly increased, about 2500 votes. The biggest increase has been experienced by the Alliance for the Albanians, 14 thousand votes, but it seems that these votes have been taken from DPA, which has 14 thousand votes less. As regards the last parliamentary elections, the greatest downfall has been suffered by BESA – nearly 11 thousand votes that have most likely been given to SDSM, DUI or it’s probably a matter of abstinence. BESA’s downfall has occurred due to their inconsistent and ill-advised policy, they have been acting without clear vision and strategy, especially when they came closer to VMRO-DPMNE.

As the puts it, the results have aligned the Albanian political opponents as “pieces on chess board, leaving chances for countless possible combinations”. Still, “what can be perceived at first glance is DUI-DPA coalition on the one and BESA-the Alliance for the Albanians coalition on the other hand”, Neziri emphasizes.

 

ALLIANCE BETWEEN BESA AND THE ALLIANCE FOR THE ALBANIANS?

Professor Sefer Tahiri says that alliance between BESA and the Alliance for the Albanians is in the making.

The battle between the Albanian parties will be fought in Chair, Tetovo, Gostivar, Struga and Debar. On one side, DUI’s facing BESA, and the Alliance for the Albanians on the other. According to my information, BESA and the Alliance for the Albanians will reach an agreement for mutual cooperation in the runoff, he says.

Tahiri also adds that DPA won a certain number of votes in the first round, but he highlights that DPA’s first post-election reaction was saluting the DUI-SDSM coalition as well as the coalition between the Alliance for the Albanians and BESA:

Which means that this party is not ready to endorse BESA’s i.e. the Alliance’s candidates, especially after failing to coalesce with BESA in the first round and because of the rivalry with the Alliance, DPA’s spin-off party, a move that Thaci cannot forgive.

On 17 October 2017, BESA’s president, Bilal Kasami, stated that “he will initiate talks with the Alliance for the Albanians’ head Zijadin Sela for possible coalition and cooperation in the runoff”, certain media outlets reported. The mayoral candidate for Gostivar, Arben Taravari, posted a photo on his Facebook profile featuring Kasami, the leader of the Alliance for the Albanians, Zijadin Sela, and this party’s mayoral candidate for Chair, Zekirija Ibraimi, and the photo’s description is “we continue together”.

 

DUI HAS THE LEAD IN 11 MUNICIPALITIES, DPA AND THE ALLIANCE IN ONE EACH

According to SEC’s results, DUI has the lead in 11 municipalities and shall face opponents from BESA, the Alliance for the Albanians and SDSM in the second round. DUI’s leading in Gostivar, Tetovo, Chair, Saraj, Tearce, Lipkovo, Zhelino, Dolneni, Debar, Vrapchishte and Bogovinje. The Alliance for the Albanians and DPA have the lead in one municipality each, the Alliance won most votes in Struga, whereas DPA won the majority of votes in Studenichani.

In the first round of the local elections, DUI won 89.617 votes, the Alliance for the Albanians won 48.767 and the BESA Movement won 46.464 votes.

In Tetovo, DUI won 33.18 percent of the votes, whereas BESA won 21.93 percent, in Lipkovo, DUI has the lead with 48.97% before BESA that won 22.70%, in Saraj, DUI won 48.24%, BESA 27.76%, in Zhelino, the results are almost identical, DUI – 43.90%, BESA – 43.57%, in Tearce, DUI won 29.86%, whereas BESA 23.44%.

The Alliance for the Albanians will be DUI’s opponent in Gostivar, where the results are 35.55% for DUI, 34.10% for the Alliance, in Bogovinje, DUI’s candidate won 33.99%, the Alliance for the Albanians’ candidate won 27.77%, in Vrapchishte DUI won 35.06%, the Alliance 31.10%, in Debar DUI won 39.93%, the Alliance for the Albanians 34.10%.

In Dolneni, DUI’s candidate, who won 34.06% of the votes in the first round, will face SDSM’s candidate who won 26.28%.

In Struga, Zijadin Sela has the lead with 30.24%, whereas DPA won 34.62% of the votes in Studenichani.

Invoking SDSM’s high party sources, Fokus published:

SDSM won’t take sides in the second round of the local elections in Struga, where the mayoral candidates of the coalition partners in the government, the Alliance for the Albanians and DUI – Zijadin Sela and Ramiz Merko, will run for office.

 


This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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