Journalist Vasko Eftov claims that a poll conducted in January shows that VMRO-DPMNE has a now overwhelming advantage over SDSM among ethnic Macedonian voters but leads overall, when accounting for votes from ethnic minorities.

When polling all voters, Macedonians, Albanians, Roma, Turks.., VMRO-DPMNE leads SDSM with 18.2 percent to their 17.5 percent. VMRO bottomed out in November, after eight members of Parliament from their group split and voted for the constitutional amendments. If we account for the rating of the parties among ethnic Macedonians alone, then VMRO has a huge lead over SDSM, with 28 percent to 18 percent. If we account likely voters and dismiss undecideds, the gap grows even wider to 55-35 percent, Eftov said.

Ethnic Macedonians overwhelmingly rejected SDSM’s push to rename the country and boycotted the referendum in September 2018. In response, Zaev has turned to ethnic Albanian voters, who are now split between his SDSM party, his coalition partner DUI and several opposition Albanian parties.

Presidential elections are expected in late April and VMRO-DPMNE is demanding that early general elections are held at the same time as well. SDSM is still considering whether to accept the challenge.

VMRO-DPMNE won the December 2016 early general elections overall, and SDSM was only able to reduce  the margin of defeat by receiving a significant quantity of ethnic Albanian votes for the first time in its history. Afterwards, political pressures on Albanian parties to refuse entering a coalition with VMRO, and transfer of members of Parliament, allowed SDSM to form the first ever Government not supported by a majority of the ethnic Macedonians. Changing the name of the country and numerous concessions on national issues to ethnic Albanian politicians only further eroded Zoran Zaev’s and SDSM’s support among ethnic Macedonians.

According to Eftov, who was long seen as close to the SDSM party but now leads the pro-opposition Alfa TV, Zaev is the only SDSM politician who enjoys support among ethnic Albanians, and nominating someone else as President would not necessarily turn out the Albanian vote.