Time: 10:38 p.m. CEST
After four-and-a-half hours, majority of the delegates of the opposition SDSM decided to support the party lists for the upcoming early elections, scheduled for December 11. About 597 votes of about 700 delegates from local organizations of SDSM voted in support of the candidacy lists at the 21st Congress of the party, held on November 6 in Skopje’s hotel Aleksandar Palace. After the closed-doors discussions, SDSM introduced the principal candidates for the candidacy lists in six electoral units of Macedonia.
Stevo Pendarovski will be first on the list in the Electoral Unit 1, which mainly focuses on Skopje region. Current technical Minister of Interior, Oliver Spasovski will be in the Electoral Unit 2, together with Frosina Tasheva Remenski and former journalist, turned politician, Muhamed Zekiri. Current deputy Minister for agriculture in the caretaker government, formed with the political agreement, Ljupco Nikolovski will run first in the Electoral Unit 3, while president of SDSM, Zoran Zaev will be first on the lists of the Electoral Unit 4. Former candidate for a Prime minister, Radmila Shekerinska will run in Electoral Unit 5, while a lawyer Petre Shilegov will be first on the opposition candidacy list for the Electoral Unit 6, where the majority of the voters are Albanians of Macedonia.
Addressing the Congress after the voting process of the delegates, Zaev stated that the delegates of the Congress made a historical decision. “On behalf of the SDSM you confirmed, that not only the residents believe in the citizens concept. Voting for this kind of candidacy lists, you confirmed that the biggest political party believes in the citizens concept.”
Zaev, who disclosed the massive intercepted materials in February 2015 made some kind of a pre-election coalition with several non-governmental organizations, united under the financing of the Open Society Foundation. Several activists of those non-governmental movements, which reportedly could benefit the opposition in their fight with the government, are in the upper parts of the lists. One of them is Pavle Bogoevski, an activist, with security and police background, mostly recognizable from the colorful protests in Skopje against controversial project “Skopje2014,” and activist Ivana Tufegdzic.
During the Congress, president of SDSM’s Skopje organization, former parliamentarian Sofija Kunovska resigned and informed the party about her decision. Kunovska gave short statement, not explaining the reasons for the resignation. Reportedly, Kunovska and her suggestions for the candidacy lists were not approved before the Congress. Many other members of the opposition party left the Congress before the final voting of the delegates.
Even though Zaev expects the win on the December 11 elections, the party members who briefed journalists during the closed-door session of the Congress, could not point to exact advances for the early elections in December.
Correction: On November 7, Students Plenum on their Facebook page denounced any connection to the private and public opinions of Ivana Tufegdzik. Earlier version of the text, related Tufegzik as person, coming from Students Plenum.
Clarification: Tufegdzik was active in the protests of students during the student elections, together with other members of Students Plenum.