Former Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats declared victory in North Macedonia’s parliamentary elections on Wednesday.
The pro-European Union party led the nationwide poll with 36.48% of the vote, with more than four-fifths of ballots already counted.
The nationalist VMRO-DPMNE led second with a 35.47% share of the vote, while the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union of Integration party was in third with 10.2% support.
The Social Democrats did not attain an outright majority and with tough coalition talks on the horizon, it could be weeks or longer before a government is formed.
Read more: North Macedonia holds first election since changing its name
The electoral commission’s website stopped functioning at one point and was still not restored three hours after polling ended at 9 p.m. local time (1900 GMT). As a result, the count was instead streamed live on YouTube.
Commission president Oliver Derkovski said that the website had been hacked, but that the election count had not been affected.
EU accession chances
Wednesday’s vote is the ninth parliamentary election since the Balkan republic of 2 million people declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.
The election result could take the recently renamed country a step closer to EU accession, should the Social Democrats hold onto its lead.
The vote was originally scheduled for April but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citizens arrived at polling stations to cast their ballots donning mandatory face masks.
This is an updated version of a previous article.
jsi/dr (dpa, Reuters)