Macedonia election: Conservatives edge ahead as votes counted

Supporters of the VMRO_DPMNE celebrate after preliminary results in Skopje. 11 December 2016 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Supporters of the VMRO-DPMNE were celebrating in Skopje

Macedonia's governing conservatives are slightly ahead as votes are counted from Sunday's general election.

With more than half the ballot counted, the VMRO-DPMNE had 39% of the vote with the SDSM social democrats on 36%.

Supporters of both parties have taken to the streets claiming victory.

There were no exit polls for Sunday's election, which was called two years early as part of a Western-brokered agreement to end a paralysing political crisis.

Vlatko Gjorcev, a senior official in Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's party, told supporters at the group's headquarters: "We won once again. Tonight, today on December 11, the tenth victory in a row."

Meanwhile SDSM leader Zoran Zaev, quoted by AFP news agency, told a cheering crowd. "We are the winners!"

Image copyright AP
Image caption SDSM supporters also claimed victory

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