The Social Democratic Union (SDSM), North Macedonia’s ruling party, has nominated Stavo Pendarovski as its candidate for president.
Mr Pendarovski, the country’s chief coordinator for NATO membership, received 712 out of 783 votes from delegates during the party’s congress in Skopje.
The chief negotiator for NATO accession has been endorsed by the country’s prime minister Zoran Zaev and several smaller parties, including the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, a junior member of the governing coalition.
“It is important to show that in a multi-ethnic Balkan state it is possible for people from different ethnicities to unite for the same goals: membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions, laws that promote the rights of the citizens, and political representatives who go beyond the eternal ethnic lines of division,” Mr Pendarovski said.
The presidential election is scheduled for April 21. The post of the president is largely ceremonial.
The conservative VMRO-DPMNE, the country’s main opposition party, has nominated Gordana Siljanovska Davkova, a law professor, who would become the country’s first female president if elected.
Fili Petrovski, former director of the State Archives and Blerim Reka, the country’s former ambassador to the EU, are also expected to run for president.
Gjorge Ivanov, the country’s conservative president is not allowed to run again having served two terms in office. Mr Pendarovski has already run for president in 2014, but was defeated by Mr Ivanov.