Skopje, 2 July 2020 (MIA) – A new National Democratic Institute (NDI) nationwide public opinion poll in North Macedonia, fielded in the run-up to the official start of the campaign for the July 15 parliamentary elections, shows that voters prioritize economic development and remain concerned about the COVID-19 epidemic.
Since the onset of the epidemic in March, the public’s general outlook has trended to be more pessimistic, with 44 percent of respondents saying the country is moving in the wrong direction, NDI said Thursday.
In a previous NDI survey (March 2020), 33 percent of respondents believed the country was moving in the wrong direction.
Economy/living standards overall, and employment in particular are top-of-mind for one-third of respondents. Another third prioritizes anti-corruption and other rule-of law reforms. Nearly one-quarter say that COVID 19 is their top concern.
“The poll reflects basic continuity in public sentiment since before the COVID-19 epidemic, particularly on economic development and anti-corruption reforms”, said NDI/North Macedonia Country Director Robert Scott Heaslet.
Voters, he said, applaud NATO membership and the announced start of EU membership negotiations, but overriding economic and health concerns are shaping their priorities coming into these elections.
Voter sentiment on the two leading parties/coalitions – SDSM/Besa and VMRO DPNME — remain largely unchanged from the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic, with closely competing levels of public support (9 percent of voters are undecided), shows the poll.
“Voters in North Macedonia have a clear-eyed set of priorities that they will take to the ballot box”, said Robert Benjamin, NDI/Central and Eastern Europe Director.
“In a close election, they are evaluating political leadership and party policies on the governance and economic issues that matter most to them”, he added
Nearly 7 in 10 say that they are likely to vote. Forty-one (41) percent of all respondents express concerns over the democratic conduct of the election process. Forty-six (46) percent profess concerns about health safeguards, but many among them are assuaged by announced Health Ministry protocols.
Fifty-six (56) percent are very or somewhat concerned that COVID-19 or election-based disinformation could adversely impact the election results.
Public sentiment has been stable with respect to the 2018 Prespa Agreement, with 58 percent supporting it or deeming it necessary. One-third opposes the agreement. Strong majorities — at nearly 75 percent — approve of the country’s NATO membership and joining the European Union, according to the poll.
“At a complex time of difficult challenges and promising opportunities, citizens in North Macedonia want democratic leadership to unite the country and good governance to advance reform”, said Heaslet.
NDI conducted the public opinion face-to-face survey between June 12 and 21, 2020 with a national representative sample of 1,213 respondents age 18 and over. The poll carries a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points with a 95 percent confidence level. The research and analysis was conducted by Team Institute and Starr Opinion Research on behalf of NDI. Polling data is not predictive of election results.