The firing of a theater director puts the latest strain on the shaky Zaev coalition. Nora Shaqiri – Markovic was fired today as director of the Comedy Theater in Skopje, in clear political retribution by Zaev’s SDSM party.

Her brother, Arben Shaqiri, ran an independent bid for Mayor of Skopje for the LDP-DOM coalition, and after his elimination in the first round of the elections, he supported the VMRO-DPMNE backed candidate Danela Arsovska, as LDP and DOM did in other cities as well. Still, the two parties remain as members of the Zaev’s coalition and LDP leader Goran Milevski is Zaev’s Local Government Minister.

Support to Nora Shaqiri! Get politics out of our culture. This was a very unwise move, Milevski said.

Nora Shaqiri and her brother were outspoken supporters of Zaev’s Colored Revolution in 2015, and were even more outspoken in demanding their “fair share” of the spoils. Nora Shaqiri famously wrote a public Facebook post addressed to Zaev, reminding him that she is still without a job, even after supporting him in his protests. Zaev replied and offered her help, and soon enough, in a clear example of cronyism, she was hired, and later appointed director of the Comedy Theater.

Her brother followed a similar path, and was nominated as director of the Youth Cultural Center, an institution that prides itself on having a more independent minded spirit. The nomination was immediately denounced by musicians, artists and people from the broader SDSM orbit, who still rejected Shaqiri, best known as a long haired soft rock crooner. He was ultimately denied this post, and it’s clear that his mayoral campaign, in which he loudly attacked the SDSM mayoral candidate in Skopje Petre Silegov, was motivated in part by this experience.

When Silegov lost the race on which Zaev directly staked his political survival, SDSM supporters began clamoring for Nora Shaqiri’s head. An inspection into her alleged “workplace harassment” of the theater’s employees was launched after the election and the Culture Ministry quickly decided to remove her as director. In her defense, Shaqiri had a dozen theater employees read a statement of support. She says she merely fined an employee who took days off without approval.

I’m proud on my work, I worked in accordance with the law and have the support of my colleagues. Their purpose in this was clear, Shaqiri said.

With their three votes in Parliament, LDP and DOM could cause new problems for SDSM if they leave the coalition. Zaev fell from 62 seats to 59 with the defection of the BESA party, and is currently courting the Alternative party as a new coalition partner, in an attempt to get over 61 votes again – which is necessary to pass most legislation and survive future challenges to the Government.