Thousands marched on July 27 in North Macedonia’s capital, Skopje, in a protest held by the Albanian opposition alliance under the name “March for Democracy.”
The leaders of the opposition coalition, made up of the Alliance for Albanians and the Alternativa party, declared that they were protesting the theft of votes during the July 15 elections.
The opposition claims the elections saw instances of vote theft, voter coercion, votes ‘cast’ by deceased people, and threats against electoral commissioners. “The Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) is not the winner of the elections, but the usurper of Albanians’ political will,” the coalition’s statement read.
The largest Albanian party in North Macedonia, and third largest in the country, BDI received approximately 103,000 votes, or 15 parliamentary seats, in the July 15 elections. The Albanian opposition received about 86,000 votes, or 12 seats.
BDI has been part of governing coalitions for the majority of its existence, since its formation in 2002.
The Albanian opposition claims vote-rigging during the elections has been most flagrant in the Kërçova municipality. In other municipalities, the amount of votes the BDI received did not differ significantly from that received by the opposition coalition. This decisive municipality had the largest difference in the number of votes, with about 11,000 votes going to BDI.
The opposition coalition leaders claim that it is impossible for them to receive almost no votes, in any of the municipality’s election centers. This, they say, is proof of vote-rigging.