SDSM leader Dimitar Kovacevski did not give more details about the apparent rift in the ruling coalition, where the smallest of the three main coalition partners – Arben Taravari’s Alliance of Albanians – announced that it will join the Albanian opposition parties in the coming elections.

Macedonia has an interim Government tasked with organizing the elections, so it’s unlikely that Taravari will try to bring down the Government in the 100 days that remain until the May 8th elections, but Kovacevski told him that it’s up to him whether he will do so. More importantly for Kovacevski and SDSM, Taravari’s choice to join the opposition means that they are losing a key partner in their attempt to create a coalition with DUI that would gather the majority of the Albanian vote and in that way compensate for SDSM’s serious weakness among ethnic Macedonians compared to VMRO-DPMNE. Kovacevski was openly courting Taravari and asking him to join a pre-election coalition with SDSM and DUI.

It’s true that I met Mr. Taravari, as two leaders of political parties that are represented in teh technical Government. As far as the Alliance hoes, I would not comment about them, since they are a different political entity. It is up to their party institutions, their officials, to respond and to decide what to do. SDSM’s offer to all political parties, NGO groups and other organizations and individuals who share the vision for a European Macedonia to join us in the elections still stands, Kovacevski said.

DUI and SDSM responded to Taravari’s announcement on Saturday by attempts to divide the Alliance of Albanians in two. Party officials close to the former leader Ziadin Sela openly rebuked Taravari for joining the Albanian opposition and want the party to run in the elections independently, if not together with SDSM and DUI. The move by Taravari to join other Albanian opposition leaders like Bilal Kasami, Izet Mexhiti and Afrim Gashi means that not only will SDSM lose the Macedonian vote, but it’s possible that DUI is also deprived the major victory it expects in the Albanian camp.