Turnout, ethnic Albanian vote key in North Macedonian polls

Voters in newly renamed North Macedonia will choose the country's new president Sunday in tightly contested polls that could see the ethnic Albanian minority playing a major role

SKOPJE, North Macedonia -- Voters in newly renamed North Macedonia will choose the country's new president Sunday in tightly contested polls that could see the ethnic Albanian minority playing a major role.

Although the president has a largely ceremonial position, with some powers to veto legislation, the outcome of the vote could trigger early parliamentary elections in a deeply polarized country.

But the key concern is turnout: If less than 40% of the 1.8 million registered voters participate, the election will be invalid.

That first round saw the governing Social Democrats' candidate, Stevo Pendarovski, and the conservative VMRO-DPME's Gordana Siljanovska Davkova tied with about 41% of the vote each.

So a lot depends on how, or indeed whether, the ethnic Albanians who make up about a quarter of the 2.1 million population will vote.