President Stevo Pendarovski announced that he will hold a press conference tomorrow, when he will say whether he will extend the state of emergency beyond the middle of June.

With his SDSM party demanding elections as early as July 5, Pendarovski can instill some reason in the party, and delay their push for a month or more, but it’s unclear whether he has political independence to do so. Macedonia has by far the worst coronavirus statistics in the region, with nearly record setting 175 new infections announced on Thursday and five deaths, and barely a quarter of voters agree to go to to polls at a time like this. But that’s precisely why SDSM insists on quick elections – hoping that the low turnout will deter their critics and that they will be able to turn out their loyalists.

The latest state of emergency expires on June 13, and SDSM claims that election preparations automatically resume then, and the vote must take place on July 5, a notion rejected by the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party which demands that the epidemic is placed under control before citizens are asked to vote. In his most direct admonition so far, European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi yesterday called on the ruling party to make sure that the date of elections is determined inclusively so that the vote is free and fair.