Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova elected North Macedonia’s first woman president

Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova elected North Macedonia’s first woman president

Story by NADJA editors

Photo: Presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova casts her ballot for the second round, 08 May 2024. By Toshe Ognjanov (VOA).

Conservative Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova was elected president of North Macedonia on Wednesday, making history as the first woman to hold the position in the country. 

The 70-year-old law professor, who belongs to the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, won the presidential runoff with a significant lead over her opponent, incumbent social democrat Stevo Pendarovski, receiving nearly 65% of the vote.

“Is there a bigger change than electing a woman as president?” she told party supporters. “I will stand with women in taking this great step forward, a step towards reform.”

North Macedonia is a Southeastern European country bordered by Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, and Serbia. With a population of just over 1.8 million, the presidential election saw a turnout of 46.31%—surpassing the 40% threshold needed to validate the results, according to election officials.

The country ranks 73rd out of 146 according to the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Global Gender Gap Index – a slight decline from its 2022 ranking of 69th. This drop reflects ongoing challenges to women’s economic empowerment, mainly due to traditional norms that still place the majority of the care burden on women.  

In politics, women continue to be underrepresented at both national and local levels. In former president Pendarovski’s government, only five out of 20 cabinet members were women. North Macedonia has had only one female prime minister, Radmila Sekerinska, who briefly served as acting prime minister in 2004.

While there is still a long way to go to achieve equal representation in the national legislature, the introduction of a quota changed the political landscape in the Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia, the country’s Parliament. 

The Electoral Code was amended in 2015, requiring equitable ethnic and gender representation in elections. According to Article 64 “in all lists of candidates for Members of Parliament, submitted for parliamentary elections, at least 40% of the candidates must belong to the less represented gender.” As of April 2024, 51 of North Macedonia’s 120 parliamentarians are women, representing 42.5% of the total.

The gender quota also extends to local government representation, with a requirement for 40% of the candidates on the nomination list to be women. However, in the 2021 local elections, only 21 municipalities out of 68 had more than 40% women councillors and 18 had less than 30%

Although there was a proposal for the introduction of a 50% gender quota, it was not included in the Electoral Code adopted in September 2021.


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