After a night of major defeats across the country, SDSM touted the mayoral race in Skopje as one glimmer of hope for the party, where they could turn things around in the second round.

SDSM candidate and incumbent Mayor Petre Silegov has 35 percent of the votes and trails with 3.5 percent behind the VMRO backed candidate Danela Arsovska, who has 38.59, with 20 percent of the votes counted. The race is further complicated by a number of candidates for smaller parties – Levica’s Petar Georgievski – Kamikaza won 8.4 percent, singer and disgruntled SDSM supporter Arben Shaqiri has 3.7 and green candidate Ana Petrovska – 3.6.

But whoever is elected Mayor won’t be able to get much done without the Skopje City Council, and a look in that race shows that it will likely be VMRO dominated. VMRO won 35.3 percent of the votes there, against 22.2 for SDSM. The votes in the Council are distributed proportionately after the first round vote, while the two best ranked mayoral candidates – Arsovska and Silegov, go to a run-off in two weeks. Any hope for Silegov in the second round will depend heavily on Zaev’s Albanian coalition partner DUI, which won 13.2 percent in the Council race. Silegov and Arsovska divided the Albanian vote due to the coalition agreement in the mayoral race, and the DUI vote largely went ot Silegov. Arsovska won the support of the Albanian opposition coalition of the Alliance of Albanians and Alternative, which scored 5.6 percent in the race for the City Council, which could be enough for her to offset the advantage Silegov has with Albanian voters. And DUI calculations and their future allegiance to Zaev could change, given the scale of Zaev’s defeat yesterday.

In his non-concessions speech, Zaev made a big deal about the betrayal SDSM suffered at the hands of his lukewarm coalition partners, LDP and DOM, who ran separate candidates in the local elections, blaming them for the string of defeats across the country. But the populist left Levica, which strongly criticizes Zaev’s corruption and the national humiliations he imposed, outranks LDP and DOM by a wide margin across the country. In Skopje, Levica’s vote total in the Council stands at 8 percent, the same level their candidate Georgievski won in the mayoral race. These votes could be up for grabs in the second round and could provide another source of support for Arsovska.