Macedonia PM vows to push for name change after referendum fails to reach 50% threshold

Macedonia’s electoral commission has announced that the Sunday referendum to change the Balkan country’s name to the Republic of Northern Macedonia has failed to pass the necessary 50 percent turnout threshold. “On this referendum it is clear that the decision has not been made,” the head of the electoral board, Oliver Derkoski, said. With some 94 percent of the ballots counted, the turnout stays at 36 percent. Over 90 percent of them voted “yes” to the question: “Are you in favor of NATO and EU membership, and accepting the name agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece?” Meanwhile, Macedonian PM Zoran Zaev said that the will of the people must be respected and approved by the Parliament despite the low turnout. Zaev said he would call for snap parliamentary elections if the lawmakers fail to deliver. The deal with Greece, agreed in June this year, proposes name change in return for the lifting of the Greek veto on Macedonia’s NATO and EU membership. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn has already voiced support to the referendum, calling on all parties to “to respect this decision and take it forward with utmost responsibility and unity across party lines.”

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