A peaceful repeat vote at dozens of polling stations in Macedonia Sunday confirmed the ruling coalition's landslide victory in parliamentary elections that had initially been marred by violence, election officials said.
Held under tight police security, the rerun had not been expected to change the overall result from June 1 elections. But it was meant to determine which of the two main ethnic Albanian parties would be invited to join the governing coalition.
State electoral commission spokesman Zoran Tanevski said the reruns, conducted at stations where violence and irregularities occurred during the earlier vote, showed Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's VMRO party had won 48.8 percent of the vote, with more than 99 percent of the votes from both rounds counted. The main opposition Social Democrats received 23.6 percent, he said.
Tanevski said that the ethnic Albanian DUI party had garnered 12.7 percent of the vote and its archrival DPA received 8.4 percent.
The voting Sunday was held without any major irregularities in 183 polling stations, mostly in ethnic Albanian areas. Minor violations stopped voting in four polling stations. The country's total number of polling stations is 2,976. Overall turnout was about 57 percent.
"Macedonia has proved that it can and must conduct fair and democratic elections," electoral commission head Jovan Josifovski said early Monday.
The two ethnic Albanian parties have no major political differences. Although DUI has traditionally allied itself with the Social Democrats and DPA with the center-right VMRO, whichever party led the voting was expected to form a coalition with Gruevski's party.
Both ethnic Albanian parties claimed victory late Sunday. DUI said it won 18 of the 120 seats in the parliament, while DPA claimed to have secured 14 seats. DUI and DPA officials accused each other of minor electoral violations, but neither reported any serious incidents.
On election day two weeks ago, gunfights in ethnic Albanian areas left one person dead and eight wounded. The violence brought international condemnation at a time when Macedonia is trying to prove its credentials for EU and NATO membership.
The head of the European Union mission in Macedonia, Erwan Fouere, said Sunday's violence-free vote showed Macedonia "has the capacity to organize regular elections."
Gruevski had said he would rather break with tradition and govern without an ethnic Albanian partner in his new coalition cabinet than have a partner who won votes with irregularities.
Ethnic Albanians make up about a quarter of the tiny Balkan country's 2.1 million population.