North Macedonia: A Look at Upcoming Elections

North Macedonia stands at a crossroads, with upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections poised to reshape the nation’s political landscape. Recent surveys conducted by Sample Solutions on their Lifepanel platform offer valuable insights into voter sentiment, revealing a situation where VMRO-DPMNE appears to be in the lead. However, despite this advantage, a high number of undecided voters and potential shifts in public opinion suggest the race remains open and the possibility of an upset cannot be ruled out.

VMRO-DPMNE Eyes Parliamentary Supremacy, But Concerns Linger

The right-wing nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE appears well-positioned for a strong showing in the parliamentary elections, according to Lifepanel data. Projections suggest VMRO-DPMNE is securing the most seats, ranging from 43-47. This would mark a significant gain compared to the current makeup of the parliament. The data indicates that SDSM is expected to win approximately 14-18 seats in this election, marking a significant decrease compared to their performance in the parliamentary elections four years ago.

However, a shadow of uncertainty hangs over this potential victory. The survey also reveals a concerning trend – a significant portion of respondents (23.6%) expressing no intention to vote. This high level of apathy could cast doubt on the legitimacy of any outcome and potentially complicate post-election government formation.

Which political party would you vote for in the upcoming elections?

Shifting Tides and Unexpected Gain

The political dynamics among the Albanian minority also deserve attention. The Lifepanel survey portrays a three-way race, with the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) remaining the frontrunner, projected to win 14-17 seats. However, despite emerging as a challenger, the BESA party trails significantly behind DUI with only 4-7 seats projected, indicating a three-to-one support ratio in favor of DUI. This suggests a potential consolidation of center-right support among Albanian voters, which could impact coalition building post-election. The Alliance for Albanians, a relatively new party, appears to be the underdog, projected to win 3-6 seats. Notably, the final distribution of seats for Albanian parties will heavily depend on voter turnout within the Albanian community and potential coalition negotiations.

Lifepanel’s survey reveals concerning trends in voter sentiment. A significant portion of the electorate expressed doubt about the effectiveness of their vote, with over half reporting skepticism about its impact on election outcomes. This disillusionment suggests a growing disconnect between citizens and the electoral process.

Do you think that if you were to vote in the upcoming elections, your vote would make a difference in the outcome?

Additionally, the data highlights a troubling issue: more than 60% of people hold concerns about the integrity of the forthcoming election. These widespread concerns are stifling our democratic spirit and the government might need to make significant reforms to restore trust and encourage greater public participation in civic matters.

To what extent do you agree that the electoral processes in your country are free and fair?

A Word of Caution: Predictions and the Power of the People

It’s important to remember that these are merely predictions based on a snapshot of voter sentiment at a specific time. Public opinion can be fluid and can shift dramatically as campaigns intensify and election day nears. Additionally, the final distribution of parliamentary seats will depend heavily on overall voter turnout and the performance of smaller parties not necessarily reflected in the current surveys. The apathy highlighted by the survey underscores the power voters hold in shaping their nation’s future. A high turnout could significantly impact the outcome and potentially bring unexpected results.

Redistribution of VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM voters

The latest data reveals a significant shift in voter loyalty. While 73.4% of those who voted for VMRO-DPMNE in the last parliamentary elections appear likely to stick with the party, only 41.5% of former SDSM voters seem willing to do the same. This suggests dissatisfaction with the current government’s performance over the past four years.

Survey data for SDSM voters reveals a concerning trend of declining support. A significant portion (16%) of their previous base indicates they will not participate in the upcoming election. Additionally, 7.6% are shifting allegiance to VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM’s primary competitor. Furthermore, a substantial number (9.4%) remain undecided, suggesting potential dissatisfaction with the current government’s management of the country.

In contrast, voter loyalty appears considerably stronger for VMRO-DPMNE. A minimal percentage (0.6%) of their prior voters plan to defect to SDSM in the upcoming elections. Voter turnout among VMRO-DPMNE supporters seems stable, with 3.6% indicating they will not vote and a similar proportion (3.6%) remaining undecided.

Redistribution of DUI and Levica voters

The latest survey indicates continued voter loyalty for DUI and Levica. DUI can expect renewed support from 66.7% of their previous voters. Levica, however, appears to be experiencing a surge in popularity, with a remarkable 76% of their prior base intending to vote for them again. Additionally, Levica is poised to attract a significant portion of voters who previously supported VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM, with 14.3% of those voters shifting their allegiance. This development represents a pivotal moment for North Macedonia, as Levica is the first small and new party to garner such substantial support compared to the traditionally dominant VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM.

Redistribution of undecided and non-voters

Looking at the info from people who didn’t vote last time, 55% of them say they won’t vote again next time. Out of these, 12.2% don’t know who they’ll vote for yet. 9.4% are going for Levica, and 10% will choose VMRO-DPMNE. SDSM is only expected to get 1.1% of these non-voters from last time.

An examination of undecided voters from the previous election reveals that 54.7% remain undecided for the upcoming elections. Among these previously undecided voters, 21.4% now indicate they will not vote at all, while 7.1% and 4.7% express preference for VMRO-DPMNE and Levica, respectively. Notably, the Social Democratic Union for Macedonia (SDSM) did not attract any voters from this previously undecided group for the upcoming elections.

Looking Ahead: A Season of Uncertainty and Political Drama

While recent surveys suggest a strong lead for VMRO-DPMNE, the upcoming elections in North Macedonia still hold the potential to be captivating and unpredictable. With a significant portion of undecided voters and the ever-evolving nature of political campaigns, the coming weeks could bring unexpected twists and turns. With the potential for a change in government and close presidential race, the stakes are high. The coming weeks leading up to the elections will be a season of political drama, with campaign strategies, televised debates, and voter mobilization efforts playing a pivotal role in determining the ultimate outcome.

The survey was conducted in March on 923 respondents over 16 years old and was based on a nationally representative sample of North Macedonian adults, with 95% confidence a given range contains the true result at a population level and an error margin of 2.5%. The results are weighted, base weights are calibrated for age, gender, educational attainment level and place of residence and adjusted for non-response.

Stole Smilkov
Stole Smilkov
Stole Smilkov is the Business Development Manager of Sample Solutions BV, and leading the further growth of Lifepanel from a research but also commercial perspective.