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Campaigning Starts For Macedonian Elections, Seen As Key Test For Prime Minister

Candidates for mayor of Macedonia's capital, Skopje, sign documents.
Candidates for mayor of Macedonia's capital, Skopje, sign documents.

Political campaigning for the sixth local elections to be held in Macedonia officially started on September 25.

The first round of the vote is scheduled for October 15, with over 1.7 million people expected to cast ballots for mayors and members of local councils in 80 municipalities, plus the capital, Skopje.

The elections are considered to be a test for Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who has promised quick progress toward joining NATO and the European Union and quick resolution of criminal investigations of members of the previous government led by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party.

Zaev heads a governing coalition made up of the Social Democratic SDSM party and the Albanian DUI party, which took power over three months ago.

Several citizens interviewed by RFE/RL's Balkan Service said they are not following the election closely because they do not trust politicians and that experience has shown that preelection promises are empty.

Nineteen parties and coalitions as well as independent candidates and citizens are participating in the election.

The vote will be held in 3,480 voting stations across Macedonia. Over 300 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights will follow the elections on the day of the vote.