One person was killed and several others wounded as shooting broke out during voting in the general election in Macedonia. Gunfire erupted in Aracinovo, a village in the north of the capital Skopje. An Albanian party official is among the victims; supporters of a rival Albanian party are being blamed.
Macedonia is the only republic to emerge from the 1990s break-up of Yugoslavia without bloodshed. But tensions simmering within its Albanian community sparked violence during the election campaign. The new Prime Minister will probably need a coalition partner, expected to be one of the Albanian parties.
Popular Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski called the election two years early after Greece vetoed Macedonia’s application to join NATO. He’s expected to ride to victory on voters’ subsequent feelings of nationalism, although he may not win an overall majority. Gruevski’s main rival is the Social Democrat leader Radmilla Sekerenska, a liberal who is equally keen on NATO and the EU.
The election is a test of Macedonia’s political maturity. An EU and NATO future rests equally on the result and on the conduct of the poll itself. The violence has worried Western governments, and may cripple Macedonia’s ambitions.