Special-category voters cast their ballots in historic FYROM name referendum


More than 6,000 voters cast their ballots on Saturday in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's historic referendum on the name deal signed with Greece in June, before the general public heads to the polls on Sunday.

Voting on Saturday was open to around 1,900 hospital patients and people with special needs, 1,550 prisoners and 3,000 overseas residents, who voted on whether FYROM should accept the deal that renames the small Balkan country North Macedonia and also paves the way for it to join the European Union and NATO, which Greece has vetoed pending resolution of the decades-long name dispute with its northern neighbor.

Polling stations will open at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning and close at 7 p.m., with the first safe estimates expected at around 10 p.m. Greek time.

Public opinion polls have pointed to a victory for the “yes” camp of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, though there are concerns regarding voter turnout amid calls from the opposition and from the country's president for citizens to boycott the process.

There are just over 1.8 million registered voters in FYROM, a country of around 2.1 million residents, though the rolls have not been updated in several years and are considered unreliable, stoking concerns further.