The second round of North Macedonia’s presidential election was calm and well run, but gaps in the legal framework remain unaddressed, international observers said in a preliminary statement on Monday.

According to Sereine Mauborgne, Special Coordinator and leader of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) short-term observer mission, the election cycle had a successful conclusion, with voters freely able to choose between distinct choices.

“Sunday’s increased voter turnout shows determination by the population to unite and address the challenges facing this country. It is now up to the political leadership to hear this message and undertake real reform that will replace the legal patchwork requiring constant political agreements with a coherent and sustainable electoral law,” Mauborgne said.

According to the international observers, North Macedonian election authorities carried out professional and impartial preparations in the second round of elections and enjoyed public confidence.

International observers noted the need to address the fact that citizens whose identification documents had expired were excluded from voting.

Meanwhile, Marie-Christine Dalloz, head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delegation stressed that some problems in the electoral process remain unaddressed.

“The PACE delegation considers the need to reform the electoral code and, in general, the political system, to re-engage citizens and to ensure their active participation, regardless of ethnic origin,” Dalloz said.

Moreover, Dalloz stressed the need to strengthen the transparency and control of election campaign funding.

The international observers expressed serious concerns over the legal framework, saying that “while the law does allow for democratic elections, the regulatory gaps already evident on issues such as campaigning, media advertising, campaign finance and voter registration remain unaddressed.”

The international election observation mission for the second round comprised some 170 observers from over 30 countries and regions.

Some 1.8 million voters were eligible to cast their ballot in North Macedonia in Sunday’s second round of presidential elections.

The incoming president Stevo Pendarovski, a joint candidate of the governing coalition of Social Democratic Union Party (SDSM) and Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), won with 51.66 percent of the vote in the second round.