Over the past year officials from the SDSM party were using the imposed name “Republic of North Macedonia” like there is no tomorrow, but as the early elections are now a near certainty, both Zaev and his inner circle are dropping the name and are beginning to use just Macedonia.

Outgoing Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, who is supposed to replace Zaev and lead the interim Government commemorated the eight anniversary of the death of President Kiro Gligorov with the following message: “We’ll always remember the architect of contemporary Macedonia. Macedonia is all we have”, Spasovski wrote, the latter part of the comment being a quote often used by Gligorov. No “north” to be seen in his comment.

Zaev himself went for a similar, but safer option, calling Gligorov “the first President of the independent Republic of Macedonia” in his Twitter message. Technically true, but again a notable ommission of the hated adjective “North”. On Facebook, Zaev used both Republic of Macedonia and the “citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia”.

Oliver Spasovski’s tweet in particular drew comments such as “now you remember that the country is called Macedonia” or “what happened to North?”

SDSM is trailing badly among ethnic Macedonians in the polls and is reduced to hoping that it will get ethnic Albanian votes to narrow the lead of the conservative VMRO-DPMNE party. Besides the major corruption scandals, a big factor in the ruling party’s bad performance is the hated name change.