Home Europe North Macedonia Elects Its First Woman President As Left Suffer Historic Loss

North Macedonia Elects Its First Woman President As Left Suffer Historic Loss

North Macedonia
Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova addresses the press at VMRO party press conference announcing her victory at the presidential elections in Skopje, North Macedonia May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

North Macedonia has elected its first woman president as the left suffered huge losses in both the presidential and parliamentary elections. Conservative-backed Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, 70, who is a law professor, won two-thirds of the vote in a presidential runoff, as the incumbent Stevo Pendarovski conceded after garnering just over 29% of the vote. Her victory makes her the first woman president since the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

Observers said Siljanovska-Davkova had been backed by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE-led coalition, which made gains due to popular discontent over the country’s slow path toward European Union membership and its sluggish economy. Talks will now take place as to seat sharing between the right-wing parties in the 120-seat parliament.

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Speaking after her victory, Siljanovska-Davkova told her supporters. “Is there a bigger change than electing a woman as president? I will stand with women in taking this great step forward, a step towards reform.”

The month-long campaign focused on North Macedonia’s slow progress toward joining the 27-nation EU, the rule of law, corruption, fighting poverty and tackling the country’s flat economic growth.

VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski headed a 22-party coalition called ‘Your Macedonia’ that accused opponents of ineptitude and making humiliating compromises in trying to settle disputes with North Macedonia’s neighbors. Mickoski, 46, told supporters that the incoming conservative-led government would make fighting corruption its priority.

“Every last person who committed a crime and committed corruption will be held accountable,” he said. “The people have taught the government its most important lesson and saved their country … We have regained hope and tonight we have reason to celebrate.”

North Macedonia has been a candidate to join the EU since 2005 but has been blocked by successive disputes with neighbors Greece and Bulgaria as well as slow progress on some reforms required for membership to advance.

(Reuters and other agencies)