After the second round of voting on Sunday 29 October, the ruling coalition in Macedonia led by the Social Democrats (SDSM), with the participation of ALDE Party member LDP, sealed their local election victory. Winning 18 of the 35 municipalities, the coalition now controls 57 out of Macedonia’s 81 municipalities, including the capital city Skopje.
The first round of elections – held on 15 October – already suggested widespread support for the SDSM and its junior coalition partners. The coalition won 39 municipalities, both for the Mayors and for the municipality councils. However, the outcome of the second round was even better than expected. Indeed, the Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission had foreseen that the SDSM coalition would have had a significant lead (only) in other 13 headings.
SDSM coalition managed to secure a victory in traditional right-wing strongholds – amongst others, in the eastern Macedonian town of Stip and in the Skopje municipalities of Gazi Baba, Kisela Voda and Butel.
The State Electoral Commission confirmed that LDP, as part of this coalition, has increased the number of the seats in municipality councils from 18 to 22.
Following the first round of the election, LDP leader Goran Milevski commented: “We, as a coalition, won very strong in these local elections, and we are going to confirm this victory even more strongly in the second round. However, for LDP this means more expectations from our voters, more responsible governing and more hard work in the period ahead.”
“LDP as an important partner in this coalition gain 22 seats in the municipality councils, and together with our representatives in the national government, we are going to allocate the party human resources and efforts towards the implementation of all the keystones presented during the campaign,” he added.
In the city of Bitola, LDP Executive Board member Valentin Gruevski was head of the list for members of the Council and on the first constitutive session of the Council of Bitola was elected as the chairman of the Municipality Council. Following these elections, the party expects a significant number of LDP members to be appointed to positions in various local institutions and municipality public enterprises.
These local elections were a test for the new government led by Zoran Zaev – which came to power in May – after a prolonged political crisis which saw an end to the 11 years of the VMRO-DPMNE-led government, widely accused of authoritarian tendencies and corruption. Together with its coalition partners and allies, the SDSM now looks to speed up the country’s bid for membership in NATO and the European Union.