Macedonia's State Election Commission says the conservative ruling party beat out the opposition Social Democrats (SDSM) by a slim margin in the first parliamentary elections since a wiretapping scandal plunged the Balkan country into crisis.
The outcome appears to put conservative leader Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party in a position to build a majority coalition with its longtime ally, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).
With nearly all of the votes from the December 11 election counted, official results showed Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE party has secured 51 seats in parliament compared to 49 seats for opposition leader Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats.
The DUI is expected to control 10 seats in parliament.
WATCH: Macedonia's Ruling Party Edges Vote, But No Clear Majority
That would be enough to form the smallest possible majority coalition if the DUI remains willing to work with the VMRO-DPMNE and if three seats decided in voting by the Macedonian diaspora are not filled -- an outcome that appears likely as turnout among the diaspora was low.
Gruevski is seeking to regain the top post less than a year after he stepped down in the wake of major antigovernment protests over the tapes released by Zaev, which critics said implicated Gruevski and aides in corruption.