Macedonia's VMRO takes early lead in parliamentary election

Leader of Macedonian ruling party VMRO-DPMNE and former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski leaves a polling station with his wife Borkica after casting his vote during elections in Skopje, Macedonia, December 11, 2016. REUTERS/Ognen Teofilovski

SKOPJE (Reuters) - Macedonia’s nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party was in the lead in parliamentary elections on Sunday with just under half the votes counted, the country’s state electoral commission said.

The VMRO-DPMNE, led by veteran leader Nikola Gruevski who is seeking a comeback, was on 41 percent of the vote, with the opposition Social Democrat SDSM on 36.6 percent, it said.

The preliminary results were based on 499,999 votes counted so far. With turnout among the former Yugoslav’s electorate of about 1.7 million put at 66 percent, the votes counted represented about 44 percent of those cast.

The SDSM was celebrating what it said was its majority in the larger cities, while the VMRO-DPMNE said it won more votes in smaller municipalities.

Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Writing by Georgina Prodhan