'I take responsibility for the defeat in the local elections,' says Zoran Zaev.

A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. North Macedonia is holding a runoff of local elections on Sunday seen as key test for the leftist government after center-right opposition has won mayoral posts in 21 municipalities compared with only nine of ruling Social-democrats in the first round of the vote two weeks ago.
A woman casts her ballot at a polling station in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. North Macedonia is holding a runoff of local elections on Sunday seen as key test for the leftist government after center-right opposition has won mayoral posts in 21 municipalities compared with only nine of ruling Social-democrats in the first round of the vote two weeks ago. (AP)

North Macedonia's prime minister stepped down Sunday night after his party failed to win in local elections.

Zoran Zaev announced his resignation at the headquarters of his Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party in the capital Skopje.

"I take responsibility for the defeat in the local elections. Therefore, I resign as SDSM prime minister and president to organize early parliamentary elections," Zaev said at a press conference.

Zaev congratulated his political opponent Hristijan Mickoski of the opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) on winning the elections.

The SDSM was defeated in the second round of local elections as opposition, and independent candidates won in Skopje, Ohrid, Kumanovo, Bitola and other cities.

The VMRO-DPMNE declared victory in 12 municipalities.

Before the elections, Zaev said he would resign if his party were defeated in the polls for the mayor of Skopje.

Voters in the Balkan nation headed to the polls on October 17 for the first round of local elections to choose new mayors and city council members.

More than 3,400 polling stations were open from 7.00 am. to 7.00 pm local time for about 1.82 million registered voters to elect the figures and parties that will govern the country locally for the next four years.

No candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, so the two candidates with the most votes competed in a second-round on Sunday.

Elections were held for 81 mayors and city council members for each city.

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Source: AA