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The Latest: North Macedonia voter turnout nears threshold

May 5, 2019
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Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, centre, presidential candidate for the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, talks to the media after voting for the presidential election, in Skopje, North Macedonia, Sunday, May 5, 2019. Polls opened in North Macedonia for a presidential election runoff between two top vote-getters from the first round. The two candidates, Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democrats, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, finished in a near dead heat, with about 42% of the votes each, in the first round on April 21. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
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Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, centre, presidential candidate for the opposition conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, talks to the media after voting for the presidential election, in Skopje, North Macedonia, Sunday, May 5, 2019. Polls opened in North Macedonia for a presidential election runoff between two top vote-getters from the first round. The two candidates, Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democrats, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, finished in a near dead heat, with about 42% of the votes each, in the first round on April 21. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — The Latest on the runoff presidential election in North Macedonia (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

Election officials in North Macedonia say voter turnout in the runoff presidential election is close to the threshold needed for results to be valid.

North Macedonia’s State Electoral Commission said that as of 5 p.m. local time (1500 GMT), turnout stood at 38.2 percent. The election for the largely ceremonial post needs 40 percent to stand.

If too few ballots are cast Sunday, the two-round contest would have to be repeated and the parliament speaker would serve as interim president.

The two candidates, both law professors, are Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democratic Union, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, who was backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party.

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8:15 a.m.

Polls have opened in North Macedonia for a presidential election runoff between two top vote-getters from the first round.

More than 3,400 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. Sunday.

The two candidates, Stevo Pendarovski of the ruling Social Democrats, and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, backed by the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party, finished in a near dead heat, with about 42% of the votes each, in the first round on April 21.

A key question is whether turnout will reach the 40% needed for the election to be valid. The first round barely made it past, with a turnout of 41.8%.

If declared invalid, the two-round contest for the largely ceremonial post will be repeated.

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