As SDSM intensifies its push for holding “corona elections” on July 5, despite the disastrously bad infection and mortality rates and the on-going Second Wave of the epidemic, it may fall to President Stevo Pendarovski to talk some sense into his party.

SDSM insists that Pendarovski has the power to automatically call elections by declaring an end to the state of emergency he first announced two and a half months ago. Although the state of emergency was extended two times, SDSM now claims that Pendarovski can no longer extend it under the Constiution, and that therefore, it must lapse in mid June. And then, again according to SDSM legal experts, the elections must take place 22 days later, given that there were 22 days left in the election campaign when Pendarovski first declared a state of emergency.

To be fair, Pendarovski himself acknowledged that he can’t extend the state of emergency beyond the first 30 days, but then he decided to do so anyway. The Constitutional Court twice looked into the issue and concluded that the extensions are lawful. Therefore, there is no reason why Pendarovski couldn’t extend it for another two weeks, or a month, especially given how bad the coronavirus situation in Macedonia is, with record death and infection tolls. The Constitution says that the Parliament can make a decision to declare a state of emergency for up to 30 days, and that if the Parliament is unable to meet – which is currently the case as the Parliament dissolved in mid February – the President can do so instead. There is no limit in the Parliament to the number of times the state of emergency can be declared, and Pendarovski is only required to submit the decision to the Parliament once it can assemble.

The claim that the elections must take place within 22 days of Pendarovski’s decision is also very dubious. Just today, the President of the State Electoral Commission Oliver Dekoski said that the deadline can’t be met. But, with SDSM down in the polls after a series of national humiliations and corruption scandals, the party leadership has concluded that holding an election which most voters will stay far away, but is conducted without a minimum turnout requirement, could allow the party to stack the Parliament, especially if the opposition refuses to endanger the voters and boycotts such an election.

As EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi is also trying to persuade SDSM to give up on its demand for “corona elections” on July 5, it may soon come to President Pendarovski to show whether he can act independently, or whether he will be a partisan loyalist and will push the country into illegitimate and very likely deadly elections.