In a Sitel TV interview, VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski said that SDSM is helping some of the smaller parties gather the signatures their candidates need to enter the presidential race. While he did not name names, it is understood that these are candidates who, SDSM believes, could take votes from the VMRO-DPMNE candidate Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova.

To be honest, I expected that some of the potential candidates will collect the 10,000 signatures they need faster. But we see that some of them, who were presenting themselves as favorites to win the election, are struggling to get 10,000 signatures even after 4 or 5 days. The ruling parties are helping some of the presidential candidates. They want to turn them into an opposition to the opposition candidate, Mickoski said.

So far, three candidates declared that they have collected 10,000 signatures – Bujar Osmani from DUI, Arben Taravari as candidate of the Albanian opposition bloc and Kumanovo Mayor and former SDSM official Maksim Dimitrievski. SDSM is hoping that some VMRO voters will support the Levica candidate professor Biljana Vankovska or the Karpos Mayor Stevco Jakimovski. Both are struggling to get to the needed signatures.

Siljanovska will lead the SDSM candidate Stevo Pendarovski by at least 100,000 votes in the first round of the elections, Mickoski predicted. “This will be a serious message to the voters to mobilize for the second round of the presidential elections and the general elections on May 8th. I was able to cooperate with Siljanovska closely, at the front lines, for the past five years and I can say that we established principled cooperation through a debate based on arguments”.

Mickoski added that his party leads SDSM with a margin that is above 2:1, with the two rival Albanian blocs about even. “According to the polls, VMRO-DPMNE would win between 53 and 56 seats in Parliament. We are polled at between 22 and 23 percent, while SDSM is between 9 and 10 percent. DUI and the united Albanian opposition will be between 6 and 6.5 percent each and ZNAM and Levica poll between 4 and 5 percent”, Mickoski said.

While not enough to form a Government outright, such a large victory would allow VMRO-DPMNE to pick its coalition partners, both from the Macedonian and the Albanian bloc, and, as Mickoski said, to avoid blackmail. Mickoski addressed the demands from DUI, some of which are echoed by the Albanian opposition, that the Constitution should be changed to allow Albanian parties veto power over the election of the President, to make Macedonia bilingual, and to accept the Bulgarian minority demands.

DUI is trying to shift attention away from their serious crimes that are made known to the public. Similarly to their 2020 campaign for an ethnic Albanian Prime Minister, now they push for an Albanian President, and are conditioning their participation in the second round of the presidential elections with this demand. They should understand that VMRO-DPMNE does not accept blackmail. From the policies that we have advanced so far, they should realize that this is not acceptable, at any cost, Mickoski said.