Doubling down on his push to get the Albanian votes – his only possible path to victory, outgoing President Stevo Pendarovski warned that Macedonia faces ethnic tensions if his opponent Gordana Siljanovska – Davkova from VMRO-DPMNE wins. The candidates, in their final pre-election debate, were asked whether they see the DUI party going peacefully in the opposition, in light of reports that the party has an armed group deployed in the capital Skopje.

I don’t expect an ethnic conflict regardless of who is in power. But there is no doubt that the main opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, is campaigning on a strong nationalist rhetoric. It is true that there are also nationalist provocations from the other side, which we don’t want to see after 30 years of independence, said Pendarovski.

2001 is behind us. I think that there is no casus belli, no reason for conflict. DUI have been part of politics for 20 years, with all the governments, and participated. That is something that proves they’ve been able to build themselves in the system and participate in the making of the most important decisions. What we hear about Cair or about ballot stuffing, intimidation of voters, it reminds us of something that is not democracy, what we believed is now behind us. If the citizens are reacting against this, I think no-one should even think about these actions, especially if they label themselves European or pro-European, said Siljanovska, before accusing DUI of abusing their unprecedented level of power for massive corruption and personal enrichment.

To this, Pendarovski blamed VMRO-DPMNE of using the corruption allegations against DUI as a form of nationalist rhetoric.