North Macedonia holds run-off presidential vote amid divisions over name change

# 03:31
5 May 2019

Voters in North Macedonia will elect a new president on Sunday in a run-off vote dominated by deep divisions over a change in the country’s name agreed with Greece that has opened the path to NATO and European Union membership, ONA rpeorts quoting Reuters.

Greece had for decades demanded that the tiny ex-Yugoslav republic change its name from Macedonia, arguing that it implied a territorial claim on a northern Greek province also called Macedonia. The new name was formally ratified earlier this year.

But the accord continues to divide Macedonians and has eclipsed all other issues during campaigning for the presidential election, when about 1.8 million voters will choose between two candidates who got through to the second round.

The ruling coalition’s candidate, a long-serving public official and academic, Stevo Pendarovski, and his main rival, the candidate of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova came neck-and-neck in the first round two weeks ago.

In the run-off, political analysts give the advantage to Pendarovski, who is expected to win support from voters of the second largest Albanian party whose candidate Blerim Reka came third in the first round.