The populist Levica party was able to capitalize on public anger over the imposed Prespa Treaty, to win two seats in the Parliament in the 2020 elections – which is a rare feat for small parties not aligned with VMRO-DPMNE or SDSM.

Using the often dramatic speeches and stunts from its two representatives, Dimitar Apasiev and Borislav Krmov, the party was hoping to improve this result, and win even a dozen seats at the coming general election. But it seems to have fizzed out.
It’s presidential candidate, leftist peace activist professor Biljana Vankovska, struggled for days to collect the 10,000 signatures she needs to enter the race. Levica was expecting to accomplish this on the first day, counting on support in Skopje’s urban Aerodrom district and in Apasiev’s hometown of Veles.

But the difficulties they faced in collecting signatures came to the surface, particularly in Aerodrom, and now threaten to divide the party. A prominent local Council member, Darko Maslarkovski, announced that he is leaving the party. “We face Byzantine games, deliberate destruction of the party, distancing of the hard working, honest and feisty activists, and inclusion of spineless, interest driven people. All who showed potential, worked hard and dedicated themselves to the party are being Racinized”, Maslarkovski said, referring to socialist poet and icon Koco Racin, killed in a “friendly fire” incident during World War Two by a fellow partisan.

The rapper was immediately denounced by Levica leadership. Member of Parliament Krmov said that Maslarkovski was removed from the party, as were the President of the Karpos municipal Council Branko Ristov, and another Karpos Council member. Krmov referred to the expelled members as “taking out the trash”.

These disciplinary moves were undertaken to prevent infiltration by structures coordinated by DPMNE (VMRO) who are sabotaging the collection of signatures and want to target and contaminate weak links in our membership. These incompeted cadres, who proved not up to the task, will be replaced with new, hard working, honest and loyal workers. Three crooked ones are leaving, 300 honest ones will come!, Levica said in a statement.

Levica was part of the SDSM led Colored Revolution, which installed Zoran Zaev as Prime Minister and went on to impose the name change on Macedonia. Apasiev, a Roman law university professor, was even hired as adviser to now disgraced Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva, who churned out criminal charges against VMRO officials that SDSM wanted removed from politics. But after a while, Levica took on a different role, declared that they are against the name change, or Macedonia’s NATO membership, and began to accuse SDSM of corruption and betraying Macedonia’s national interests, often using rhetoric from the times of the French Revolution. Its more recent stunts included visiting the grave of Albanian Communist dictator Enver Hoxha, in an attempt to appeal to Albanian leftists.

But in this campaign, the party would often try to edge out VMRO-DPMNE in the fight for the votes of Macedonians angry at the national humiliations, leading many in VMRO to warn that Levica are coordinating their actions with SDSM and acting as “opposition to the opposition”. Levica is also a declared pro-Russian party, which again helps SDSM and their partner DUI develop talking points about their alleged pro-European stance against the “Russian threat” in Macedonia, in which SDSM and DUI try to lump VMRO with Levica. More recently, the party was seen as coordinating its activities with the Mayor of Karpos Stevco Jakimovski, and Skopje Mayor Danela Arsovska, who are also trying to run in the elections on platforms accusing VMRO-DPMNE in ways designed to peel voters from the by far largest opposition party that is the clearly dominant over SDSM in the polls. Jakimovski is also running for President, and like Vankovska, is struggling to collect the 10,000 signatures he needs, indicating that the opposition vote is coalescing around VMRO and will not about to miss an opportunity to punish SDSM by voting for the opposition group that has the by far best opportunity to defeat SDSM.

In fact, SDSM is facing a division of its own. Angry with the concessions SDSM is making to Bulgaria, a large faction centered around the former SDSM stronghold of Kumanovo split from the party. Led by Maksim Dimitrievski, this ZNAM party had no problem to collect signatures for Dimitrievski’s presidential run, and threatens to fragment the SDSM vote to a greater degree than than the damage SDSM hopes Levica will inflict on VMRO.

VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM will begin collecting signatures on Sunday, after their candidates are formally approved by the party institutions. In their case, the question is not whether the task of collecting 10,000 signatures will be accomplished on the first day, but by how much will they surpass the required number – this will be the gauge of enthusiasm in the two largest parties, who can also nominate presidential candidates with 30 votes in Parliament, but always choose to flex their muscles and collect signatures as well.