The Macedonian voting about the new name of the country appears to be far from the necessary turnout. It failed to achieve a turnout of 50 percent that are necessary for the referendum to be valid.

Preliminary results show that just over a third of Macedonians voted in the referendum. But about 90 percent of those who did are in support of the change, and this has led the country’s Prime Minister to speak in the Parliament about the necessity “to confirm the will of the majority”.

The vote aims to put an end to a lengthy name dispute with Greece, which has a region called Macedonia. Athens agreed to end its objections to Macedonia’s EU and NATO bid if the change was adopted.

A total of 91,37% or 593 315 were voted for the change, whereas only 5,64% or 36 596 were against it. The highest turnout was in municipalities with predominantly Albanian population, accounting for about 25% of Macedonia’s residents. All ethnic Albanian parties in the country strongly expressed their support for the Prespa Treaty before the vote.

In its importance for the country’s future, this referendum was compared with the independence referendum held on 8 September 1991 when Macedonian citizens also had to respond to a complex issue, namely “Do you support Macedonia’s independence with the right to enter into a future union of the Yugoslav states?”.

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced that he did not intend to resign despite the low turnout of the referendum. He announced the referendum as a “democratic success”, saying the consultation was “consultative” and was not binding. According to his words, the result clearly shows the will of the Macedonian people. Zaev stressed that “there could be no better deal than this one with Greece”.

The opponents say the country was pushed by Greece and the EU, pointing to the fact that top European politicians urged voters to support the change. Leader of the main opposition party Christian Miocic said the proposed deal “will unify Macedonia”. President George Ivanov was among those who said they would boycott the vote. It describes the proposed transaction as “historic suicide”.

Meanwhile, Russia has been accused of choosing the opposition in order to stop Macedonia moving to the West zone of influence. Moscow rejects the allegations.