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Elections

Macedonian opposition rejects parliamentary and presidential election results

After polls closed in a double-vote in Macedonia that saw a new parliament and a new president on the ballot, the opposition has announced that it will not recognize the results. Leaders claim the poll was unfair.

Shortly after voting ended in Macedonia's parliamentary and presidential polls on Sunday, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats said his party would not recognize the results of the election. Early returns are expected Monday.

"The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its allies will not recognize the election process, parliamentary and presidential," Zoran Zaev told reporters in Skopje, the capital.

Led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the VMRO-DPMNE party was expected to win and hoped to increase its share of seats in parliament. The SDSM, however, accused Gruevski's party of abusing its authority to secure the win. Zaev rejected the election commission's assessment that the vote had been free and fair.

The vote for the parliament was held a year earlier than planned after the VMRO-DPMNE could not agree with its ethnic Albanian coalition partner, the DUI, on a combined presidential candidate.

The run-off vote for the largely ceremonial post of president was also being held Sunday. It was between VMRO-DPMNE's incumbent candidate, Gjorge Ivanov, and the SDSM candidate, Stevo Pendarovski.

Naming dispute

Macedonia faces issues of high unemployment and an ailing economy, with its average monthly salary just 350 euros ($480).

A key issue for the new parliament will be resolving a dispute with neighboring Greece about the country's name, which has held the former Yugoslav republic back from joining the EU and NATO.

has been an EU candidate since 2005. Greece also has a northern province called Macedonia and there has long been conflict over the right to use the name.

mz,se/mkg (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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