SKOPJE (Reuters) – Macedonians vote on Sunday in a presidential election dominated by deep divisions over the change of the country’s name to North Macedonia under a deal with Greece.
The name change, which Greece demanded to end what it called an implied territorial claim on its northern province also called Macedonia, resolves a decades-old dispute and opens the door to Macedonian membership of NATO and the European Union.
Accord - Macedonians - Issues - Sunday - Election
But the accord continues to divide Macedonians and has eclipsed all other issues during campaigning for Sunday’s election, in which about 1.8 million voters will choose between three candidates.
Reflecting differences over the agreement pushed through by the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the winner of Sunday’s ballot is not expected to secure an outright majority, meaning a run-off vote would be held on May 5.
Opinion - Poll - Support - Percent - Lead
A recent opinion poll gave support of 28.8 percent and a narrow lead to Stevo Pendarovski, who is backed by the ruling centrist coalition of the Social Democrats and the minority Albanian DUI party, which have promised to implement the name change settlement.
“There is no other alternative except NATO and EU. Unfortunately in this country we have an opposition that is buried in the 19th century,” Pendarovski, a long-serving public official and academic, told supporters in the town of Stip.
Pendarovski - Gordana - Siljanovska-Davkova - VMRO-DPMNE - Party
Pendarovski’s main rival Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova is supported by the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, which strongly opposed the deal. The latest poll showed her trailing by about two percentage points on 26.8 percent.
Wrapping up her campaign in the capital, Skopje, the university professor accused the government of failing to implement much-needed economic reforms.
“If for the...
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