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Gruevski’s wish for 62 MPs becomes reality

The most important thing that a politician in Macedonia has to have is to be trusted and honorable. Gjorge Ivanov has shown that. He showed that he is honorable, and VMRO-DPMNE has helped him to be trusted – this is how analyst Vladimir Bozinovski, owner of the Skopje-based Institute for Political Reaserch, comments on the difference of 122,000 votes between Ivano and his rival Stevo Pendarovski after the first round of the presidential elections. He says that a vote for Ivanov is a vote for VMRO-DPMNE and vise versa.

-They have, simply, brought together their voters and supporters. On the other hand, SDSM had two campaigns. SDSM led one, while Pendarovski was left to lead another, he comments.

However, compared to SEC’s official results from the first round of presidential elections, IPIS had the the most precise prognosis in the pre-election period. According to the poll published on March 9, 2014, IPIS prognosticated that VMRO-DPMNE candidate, Ivanov, will win 52 percents of the votes, while SDSM candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, 34,5 percents. SEC official data show 51,67 percents for Gjorge Ivanov over 37,52 percents for Stevo Pendarovski.


The results from the first round of the presidential elections surprised many people, especially the opposition and some of the analysts. To what extend, according to you, were expected the numbers from the voting? Which is, according to you, the biggest surprise?

Bozinovski: There are no surprises. Three days before the Election Day, in a debate with Nikola Spasov from the Rating agency, I said that there is a difference for the first time. Two agencies with credibility come forward, and there is a difference in the election prognosis, which is not small. Then I pointed out that I agreed that the turnout will be 50 percents and that I agreed with the percentage for Zoran Popovski, Ilijaz Halimi, as well as for Stevo Pendarovski. But that I highly disagreed over the difference between Pendarovski and Gjorge Ivanov. I, as a conclusion from the debate, said that we would see if Rating had right for giving a small advantage to Pendarovski or IPIS, according to which Ivanov had the lead. I underlined a 100,000 votes difference, which is, actually the difference in the Rating and IPIS prognosis.

That is very close to the difference after the Election Day (April 13) – Ivano’s lead of 122,000 votes.

Bozinovski: Yes. Let’s get this straight. In the polls, we talk about the percentage of mistakes, and that percentage is plus/minus three percents. Over 20,000 voters make one percent. That shows that not only the polls are nearly precise, but also that they are absolutely correct. IPIS published that a month ago, before the start of the election campaign. On the basis of that poll and some additional analysis, I came forward with a prognosis of 100,000 votes difference, which has proved to be absolutely correct. Let us not be falsely modest. This shows that IPIS and Vladimir Bozinovski are the only people in Macedonia that has given precise prognosis in regard to the results from the elections over the past 10 years. Considering 2006, when I was in the Institute for Democracy, and then IPIS, which we founded in 2010, all elections onward has confirmed that we always have the most precise prognisis over the elections results. Not only do I claim that. In 2011, MCIC made a lovely comparison between nine agencies that the came forward with their election prognosis and IPIS was first on the list. Last year, we published polls and ratings which have proved that we were totally precise over the 2013 local elections in regard to the total number of votes for the local advisory councils, which would be won by VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM and other parties. We constantly work, publish, not just before elections. That is how I publish the claim, supported by arguments, that VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM’s rating over the past three years is 120,000 votes difference. I said that to perhaps 50 media and has been confirmed at these elections.

You mentioned the prognosis of the other agencies were proved very wrong. Here are the prognosis of many analysts, that are considered as serious, and yet they had wrong predictions over the mood of the citizens. What is the reason for that? Manipulation with the citizens or complete inability what they do?

Bozinovski: There can be two reasons. Or the manipulation or complete not knowing the things. There could not be a third. Every attitude should be supported by an argument. That is the appreciation whether someone is right or not. If you just say certain things without support, you are not an analysts, but a fan. There is no need the citizens to hear you as an analyst that appears in the media. Simply, go to the rallies and talk there. In a debate with a professor, a man came forward with some incredible claims that the percent of undecided voters was 15 percent just because he thought so. I came forward with arguments that it is three to six percents. I came forward with arguments for results. I give prognosis, which has proved to be precise. The professor, I cannot call him an analyst, talked about things that do not have anything in common with political analysis at all. But he presents himself as an analyst. We could describe him as a fan. Of course, people male analysis, and the media write, not just here, but also all around the world, they are inclined to one or other party. It is very important to be argued. That shows whether you are partial or not. You can assess the analytic abilities of a man or an institution through the prognosis, projections and the like. If you have arguments, support one or the other party. But you cannot support one party with no arguments. Everything we have heard from certain analysts and experts was totally not supported and with no touch with reality. That were certain personal opinions. There were no arguments. And you can publish you personal opinion on Facebook. One must keep to professionalism and remain committed to the assignment. I would never publish a research that I do not support. When I published my research, a month ago, three to four journalists from the opposition portal asked me if I was behind the research. Well, I published it under my signature, how can I not stay behind it?! I never give assessments based on what I imagine. I give assessment based on what is real.


Let’s make a comparison between the votes in the 2009 and the votes in the 2014 elections? After a five-year term, President Ivanov won more votes – 354,850 over 448,303 votes. Pendarovski also had more votes that the previous SDSM candidate, Frckoski – 202,691 over 326,069.

Bozinovski: There were two other candidates that took part of the votes as well. Ljube Boskovski took good part of VMRO-DPMNE’s votes. He won 146,000 votes. Imer Selmani had a similar number of votes, taking part of SDSM votes and of the undecided, even maybe, part of VMRO-DPMNE’s. The situation was shown as it was in the runoff. In the runoff, Ivanov won a similar number of votes as now. That was the power of the political parties then. It is interesting to notice that the support toVMRO-DPMNE is so enhanced that there is no change in the polls carried out over the past few years.  They even have a bugger number of votes. On the other hand, the support to SDSM is utterly changeable, due to the bad structure of their policies and their platform. They still do not have platform. And that is where the voters waver. Votes come, votes go, there is no way for the opposition to preserve them. Moreover, you have a number of 450,000 supporters. If SDSM wants to do something, it should not try to take VMRO-DPMNE’s votes through negative campaign. It should try to attract 120,000 new votes through positive campaign. The thing is that that it is not possible to happen at these elections. They should to that for the next local elections in 2017.


To what extent can that difference demotivate the opposition?

Bozinovski: If you recall, I set up the numbers couple of weeks ago. This elections are not about who is going to win, but how big will the difference be. Same goes for both presidential and parliamentary elections. I have projected a difference of 50.000, 100.000 and over 100.000 votes. If Ivanov had less than 50.000 votes, it would have been a motivation for the opposition and they would not have won the parliamentary elections, but they could have scored a result similar to that of 2011. If the difference is between 50.000-100.000 votes, nothing will change, but if the difference exceeds 100.000, than the opposition demotivates, and the government becomes extra motivated to come out and vote.

Does that makes Gruevski’s wish for 62 MPs real?

Bozinovski: Yes. With a difference higher than 100.000 votes the goal for absolute power – of VMRO-DPMNE and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski becomes probable. It is now possible. It has been awaited until last Sunday. Now it is can be said it is possible. Public opinion in Macedonia hardly changes. Those 120.000 can become 140.000, which would mean absolute majority.

What chances does Pendarovski stands to increase votes for him? To what extent can DUI annul the difference between Ivanov and Pendarovski due to prior SDSM’s party bargaining? 

Bozinovski: SDSM can try and make some kind of an arrangement with some of the ethnic parties, DUI per se. DUI cannot provide its total electorate to vote for SDSM, around 100.000. Even if it does get all 100.000 of DUI’s votes, SDSM will still be ambling behind Ivanov. Moreover, DUI can provide only 40.000-50.000 votes to Pendarovski, which is absolutely not enough. On the other hand, they will do more harm than good to themselves, because after such arrangement part of the undecided voters, who maybe did not even plan to vote, will now come out and vote for Ivanov. I cannot discuss difference here, whether it is going to be big or small. It would depend on those arrangements. Anyways, this does this difference makesIvanov is certainly the absolute winner in the second round?


Should SDSM hope for Pendarovski’s votes?

Bozinovski: Not at the moment. Now that SDSM’s power is evident again, the members themselves are demotivated to come out and vote. SDSM has the same power it did on the last local elections. Those votes can be cast for GROM, as well.

So, it is to be expected that Pendarovski will win less votes than he did in the first round?

Bozinovski: Yes. We should not forget Stevche Jakimovski and GROM are also part of the game now. I have said that if Zoran Popvski wins 25.000-30.000 votes, Jakimovski can hope for good elections result. The two MP seats our survey has projected for him can become three or four MP seats. Some of the citizens who are demotivated by SDSM might turn to GROM. Jakimovski had managed to win 30.000 votes in just 3 months. Those who have supported Pendarovski in the first round, but were not strong SDSM supporters, can easily turn to GROM, especially in the municipalities of Karpos and Center. I expect that in these two municipalities Pendarovski’s lead in the first round of the presidential elections might be way smaller or even turn into VMRO-DPMNE’s favor on the upcoming parliamentary elections. That is due to the fact that those who voted for Pendarovski will now vote for GROM – the third strong factor in Karpos Municipality. I would say these three parties stand equal chances in Karpos.

How would that affect SDSM’s MP seats?

Bozinovski: Counting on the two MP seats GROM will win and VMRO-DPMNE’s strong support, SDSM’s support is doubtful and it should have been happy to win 38 MP seats by 13 April. After the elections on 13 April, I think the if the valid assumptions turn real, SDSM would be lucky to win 35 MPs.

What is the influence of election campaigns like? Can they change the big picture? You have already said public opinion is difficult to change.

Bozinovski: I expect the difference between VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM to increase to 120.000 due to votes decline in SDSM. They can easily drop from 325.000 to 300.000 votes, or even to 290.000, the voted they had won on the last local elections. That can cause certain shifts. According to poll statistics, it has no major influence, but it does mean a lot to parliamentary elections. It is not all the same if the difference is 140.000 instead of 120.000.

DPA stated they hope for 13-14 MP seats, according to the votes won on presidential elections. Is that realistic?

Bozinovski: In my opinion, DPA should have worked harder to motivate its membership. According to our prognosis, we expected DPA to win around 60.000 votes. De facto, DPA has 60.000, maybe even 70.000 supporters. But, I think they did not commit seriously enough and did not manage to get everyone of their supporters to vote. Although it would have required Sisyphus efforts. The should make their voters come out and vote to show their political power. It was clear that Halimi cannot enter the second round, although he proved to be a very good candidate. GROM, on the other hand, although a new party, has manged to pull their voters out and show their political influence. DPA had no reason to prove their influence, it has been part of the political stage for a long time now, , which, I suppose, is the very reason for a small voters decline, one percent less than what we had expected. DPA’s success depends on many factors, especially on Menduh Thaci. He has to overcome the misunderstandings with Struga Mayor Sela immediately and to try and approach Rufi Osmani and the other former DPA officials. If he finds the virtue within to do that, than political success can be expected.


By: Biljana Zafirova

Photo: Gjorgji Lichovski