North Macedonia elects first woman president

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Hristijan Mickoski, the leader of the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, center top, and their presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, (center bottom), attend a celebration on the main square after their party announced victory in the presidential and parliamentary elections, in Skopje, North Macedonia, on May 9. (AP)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia, May 9, (AP): North Macedonia elected its first woman president Wednesday as the governing Social Democrats suffered historic losses in twin presidential and parliamentary elections.
Conservative-backed Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova, a 70-year-old law professor, was declared the winner after receiving nearly 65% support with more than two-thirds of the vote counted in a presidential runoff. “Is there a bigger change than electing a woman as president?” Siljanovska-Davkova told party supporters. “I will stand with women in taking this great step forward, a step towards reform.”
Incumbent Stevo Pendarovski conceded after garnering just over 29% of the vote. Siljanovska-Davkova was backed by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which made sweeping gains on popular discontent over the country’s slow path toward European Union membership and its sluggish economy. A coalition led by VMRO-DPMNE was ahead with nearly 43% in the parliamentary election, while the Social Democrat-led coalition that has held power for the least seven years struggled to hold onto second place with 14.8.% – just ahead of a group of parties led by the ethnic Albanian minority party DUI.
Celebrations in the capital Skopje were muted by a thunderstorm that caused power outages. The conservative landslide win will be followed by power sharing talks for the control of the 120-seat parliament. But Social Democrat leader Dimitar Kovachevski, who served as prime minister from 2022 until early this year, conceded his party’s defeat late Wednesday in the parliamentary election and announced that he would stand down after a new leader is selected by the party. Victory for Siljanovska-Davkova makes her the first woman to hold the largely ceremonial post of president since the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

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