Uncertainty over Number of 'Fake Voters' in Macedonia Electoral RollSoutheast Europe | March 19, 2016, Saturday // 14:20| views
The scandal broke days after Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov (pictured) was granted the right to pardon people convicted of electoral crimes. File photo, EPA/BGNES
Macedonia's State Electoral Commission (DIK) has said it will need additional time and consultations to look into the possibility that fake voters constitute a sizable part of the electoral roll.
A scandal broke earlier this week after a leaked DIK report on Thursday suggested as many as 495 000 names on the roll will have to be verified in a country of 1.8 million registered voters and a population of roughly 2.06 million according to the 2014 census.
DIK suggested inconsistencies of data for part of the people listed.
"More time is needed for consultations. The public will be informed about any further activities," daily Utrinski Vesnik quoted Ljubka Guguchevska, of DIK, as telling reporters on Friday.
Local media report that the roll contains entries of many long-deceased citizens or people living in Western Europe, North America or Australia.
The list of voters has been a thorny issue in Macedonian politics over the past months, with the socialist opposition SDSM claiming authorities will not be able to efficiently purge the roll in time for early elections this June.
Socialists have therefore called for the vote to be postponed even further, after the initial date of April 24 was changed to June 5. Previously, they had threatened to boycott any election taking place before the roll has been cleared and several other conditions have been met.
After the report was leaked, SDSM pointed a finger at conservative VMRO-DPMNE, which has been in power over the past decade, and its leader Nikola Gruevski (until recently Prime Minister), arguing the data proved electoral manipulations in the past.
Earlier this week, the Constitutional Court of Macedonia approved legal amendments giving President Gjorge Ivanov the right to grant amnesty to people sentenced for electoral violations.
The development sparked outrage from both the opposition and the international community, with the EU Commission warning Skopje against decisions that undermine the trust of citizens and of the rest of Europe.
Ivanov, however, said it had never crossed his mind to "pardon pedophiles, drug dealers, election violators, terrorists or extremists". The President added he would act exclusively in line with national interests.
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