SDSM had a disappointing turnout at their central pre-election rally in downtown Skopje today. Whether it was due to the rain, or a sign of continued collapse in the polls, the ruling party hardly gathered a few thousand supporters in what is supposed to be one of their strongholds.

The rally was held in front of the EU diplomatic mission in Skopje, a nod to SDSM’s insistence that they are the party of quick EU integration – a position that suffered greatly with the continued vetoes from France and now Bulgaria, and SDSM support has suffered with it. Party leader Dimitar Kovacevski, presidential candidate Stevo Pendarovski and former Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who now heads the PES party of European socialists, were keynote speakers.

SDSM should not struggle to fill a square in downtown Skopje, but this time they had to resort to bussing people from across the country. Social media commentators noted that President Pendarovski used to use foul language agaisnt VMRO-DPMNE when they would resort to this practice, referring to their supporters as “cattle” who have to be bussed in, while the SDSM supporters are reportedly free thinking citizens who come to rallies on their own volition. But now, the ruling party can’t fill a square even with a fleet of buses.