A Macedonian court ordered Tuesday that parliamentary elections be repeated at one polling station due to irregularities, in a development that could challenge the narrow victory of ruling conservatives.
The December 11 vote was part of a European Union-brokered deal between Macedonia's four main political parties in a bid to solve a deep political crisis emerging after a mass wiretapping scandal erupted in February 2015 and sparked street protests.
The preliminary results showed that VMRO-DPMNE party of longtime ruler Nikola Gruevski would have 51 MPs, two more than the Social Democrats (SDSM), having edged the vote 38.06 percent to 36.69 percent.
But following a SDSM complaint over "irregularities," the Administrative Court decided to order the re-vote, to take place on Sunday December 25, at a polling station with some 700 voters in the western town of Tearce in the ethnic Albanian dominated region of Tetovo.
The complaint had been rejected by the electoral commission, but following SDSM's appeal the court accepted it and ruled that the vote should be repeated.
The fresh vote could change the final result of the elections as the difference between the two major parties was some 300 votes in this constituency.
Gruevski has earlier said his party would not accept such a ruling, claiming that both the electoral commission and the court were "under influence" of "some foreign representatives" aiming to "forge Macedonia's citizens' will."
"If the administrative court also cedes to influences coming from outside and VMRO's win is taken away and Macedonia citizens' will is forged, VMRO announces it will not take part in re-voting and will not recognise the results of that re-voting," Gruevski told his supporters on Saturday.
After the elections both sides claimed victory. Following the final vote count the SDSM refused to acknowledge the victory of conservatives, denouncing "irregularities".
The party lodged a number of appeals, most of which were rejected.
SDSM leader Zoran Zaev said at the time that the result could be changed to a 50-50-seat draw for the two parties after the appeals.