Muhamed Zekiri, head of the ethnic Albanian wing of the ruling SDSM party, came out against a coalition with SDSM’s current partner DUI. Zekiri believes that DUI is on the decline and that SDSM can continue to snatch voters from the perennially ruling Albanian party.

SDSM should stop helping DUI. Albanians voted for SDSM asking us to punish both VMRO-DPMNE and DUI. We managed to punish the former, but not DUI and the job was only half done, because of the numbers we hand, it was a necessary evil to join DUI. I believe that this coalition harmed us badly. We helped DUI win four – five municipalities in 2017 with our votes, and that was a major mistake and insulted our Albanian supporters. It is high time to stop helping this party which misrepresents the Albanians, Zekiri said.

SDSM is losing among ethnic Macedonians to VMRO-DPMNE and has worked desperately to expand its outreach to Albanians, accepting many concessions on national issues. But, the party still had to join forces with DUI in a pre-election coalition ahead of the 2019 presidential elections. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is now again raising the prospect of a pre-election coalition with DUI for the 2020 early general elections, which would be a first of the kind partnership between two of the four largest parties in the country. Like Zekiri, his nemesis, DUI leader Ali Ahmeti also rejected this proposal, fearing that SDSM is trying to swallow up his party.