Muhamed Zekiri, the deputy leader of the SDSM party who is also the head of the party’s Albanian wing, said that he wants to see a ruling coalition that will exclude DUI. Zekiri has a notoriously bad relationship with SDSM’s largest coalition partner, as the two parties are vying for the same block of ethnic Albanian voters, and SDSM today formalized its coalition with the smaller Albanian BESA party.

DUI has no right to tell SDSM who we go in coalition with. We pushed and pulled DUI during their entire 2017 municipal campaign, Zekiri said.

SDSM is losing Macedonian voters badly to VMRO-DPMNE and it hopes it will make up the difference among ethnic Albanians. Some Albanian voters will also go to the Alliance of Albanians party, splitting this minority vote three way. DUI came out against SDSM’s coalition with BESA, saying it harms Albanian interests, and now supports the “coalition of winners” rule, that would likely see DUI seek a coalition with VMRO-DPMNE, as the winners among the two largest respective ethnic camps. VMRO says its options are open, given that DUI violated this rule in 2017 when it chose SDSM as its coalition partner over VMRO.