Even though the SDSM party holds the Presidency of the country, through its candidate Stevo Pendarovski, and claims that it has won the inconclusive and chaotic July 15 elections, Pendarovski is still not moving ahead with giving the mandate to form the next Government.

Since mid last week Pendarovski was able to give the mandate to SDSM party leader Zoran Zaev, who claimed victory with 46 seats in Parliament. But instead, SDSM officials have mused about technicalities in the parliamentary procedures seemingly looking for ways to postpone the entire process.

Under the Constitution, once the new Parliament convenes after an election, the President has 10 days to give the mandate to a candidate of a party that has the majority, or claims it can achieve one in a process of negotiations. This gives Pendarovski four more days to act.

But SDSM officials and media commentators are saying that as the Parliament did not elect a new Speaker it can’t be considered fully constituted. Also, there is doubt over whether the parliamentary technical service sent an official note to Pendarovski’s office that the Parliament convened (even though Pendarovski was present during the first session and witnessed the act himself).

Playing dumb on these issues could buy Pendarovski a few more days beyond August 14, in case SDSM wants to postpone the entire process. But, it’s also indicative of difficulties in the coalition making process. SDSM declared that it agreed on the principles of a future coalition with the DUI party, which can provide SDSM with just enough votes to form a Government, but shortly after the initial announcement, SDSM leader Zoran Zaev declared that there is no agreement yet.

A very damaging development for Zaev would be if he gets the mandate before he has a deal with DUI, and the constitutionally provided 20 days lapse with no final deal being made. This could make the SDSM leader seem weak in his position and open the door for challengers in his own party, or beyond, given that VMRO-DPMNE also has nearly the same number of seats in Parliament Zaev has.