Turnout, ethnic Albanian vote key in North Macedonian polls

North Macedonia is heading for a presidential election runoff with both candidates more or less tied and the outcome potentially determined by an ethnic Albanian candidate eliminated in Sunday’s first vote.

The governing center-left party’s candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, and conservative Gordana Siljanovsa will face off on May 5. According to the latest results released Monday, Pendarovski got 42.85% of the vote and Siljanovska 42.24%.

Ethnic Albanian Blerim Reka came third with 10.57%. He has not said whether he will back either candidate in the May 5 election. About one in four Macedonians is ethnic Albanian.

Turnout is also crucial because if it falls below 40% of registered voters the presidential election is considered invalid and must be held again from the beginning in two rounds. Sunday’s turnout was 41.8%.

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