Ziadin Sela, leader of the opposition Alliance of Albanians, said that ethnic Albanian voters should support an ethnic Albanian presidential candidate in the coming elections. This flies in the face of the calls from the ruling ethnic Albanian party DUI which wants a joint candidate with its coalition partner SDSM, who would presumably be an ethnic Macedonian, even though DUI has approached several potential mixed ethnicity candidates.

Albanians should vote for an Albanian in the first round of the elections, Sela told TV21, opening the door for his own run in the elections scheduled for April or May.

No ethnic Albanian candidate has made it into the second round of the presidential elections so far, but the Albanian vote was often crucial in the second round and would decide which of the two main ethnic Macedonian parties, VMRO or SDSM, would win the presidency. SDSM and DUI are counting on the support from the Albanian voters for their nominee, but the growing power of opposition Albanian parties, as DUI domination over the minority voters is crumbling, could throw this calculation out the window. Historically, the two largest ethnic Albanian parties would often support the competing VMRO – SDSM presidential candidates.

Sela pointed out to the division within the coalition, where Muhamed Zekiri, the only prominent ethnic Albanian official in SDSM, dismissed the idea of a consensual candidate. Zekiri’s introduction into SDSM has opened up a fight for Albanian voters within the ruling coalition, with SDSM also trying to shore up its reduced support among ethnic Macedonians in light of the forced renaming of the country, by attracting more Albanian voters, often from the DUI pool. The Alliance of Albanians is pushing DUI on its record of corruption, including a recent scandal of missing retirement payments from the DUI party ran PIOM retirement fund, while another opposition party, BESA, is attracting voters on a political Islam platform.