Discussing the upcoming duel in the 4th electoral district, VMRO-DPMNE Vice President Aleksandar Nikoloski said that he will face his easiest opponent yet, in the face of former Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce.

The party leaders will face each other in the 1st electoral district. But the duel in the 4th district became the second most important clash, since SDSM leader Zoran Zaev would usually run in his native Strumica as head of the SDSM list in the 4th district. Even though an Ohrid native, Nikoloski was selected by VMRO to face Zaev, and they had a closely fought duel in the 2020 elections.
This time, with the polls indicating very poor results for SDSM, Zaev is not running himself, but has his confidant, former Healthcare Minister Filipce, another Ohrid native, to lead the 4th list.

In 2020 I had probably the hardest opponent in Zoran Zaev. Now I have the easiest opponent. He is a politically spent person, I’m actually surprised he decided to run. One version of events, that is being spread around, is that this will actually be a race for the next party leader, between him and Oliver Spasovski, who leads the list in the 2nd district, and this is the reason Filipce is running, Nikoloski said, implying that Zaev wants to regain control over SDSM through Filiipce, after the current leader DImitar Kovacevski is removed following the expected electoral defeat.

SDSM invested heavily in Filipce during the pandemic, but his failure to procure vaccines on time forced Macedonia to depend on Serbia sharing its surplus vaccines. Filipce tried to purchase Chinese vaccines through a suspicious off-shore company, raising corruption allegations. The disastrous fire in the Tetovo hospital that killed 14 patients and family members, and the recent revelations of theft of cancer drugs from the Oncology Clinic weigh heavily on his campaign. VMRO-DPMNE revealed that Filipce is building a large residential complex in an expensive part of Skopje, and allege that he and Zaev were extorting the owners of private clinics in Skopje, an allegation that was largely confirmed in he major Racket scandal. Filipce is currently campaigning by sharing photos with patients neurology patients he operated on which, according to Nikoloski, is a form of patient abuse.