The pro-Government Telma TV station strongly indicated on Wednesday that Zoran Zaev will be the ruling coalition candidate in the coming presidential elections, by publishing a poll co-produced with MCMS which shows Zaev leading a pack of other SDSM affiliated candidates.
Zaev denied he intends to run, and his coalition partner Ali Ahmeti proposed law professor Denko Maleski as a consensual candidate between ethnic Macedonians and Albanians, but Maleski is nowhere to be seen in the poll. Zaev leads the pack with 12.4 percent of the votes, ahead of VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski with 8.2 percent.
Zaev is ahead of other potential candidates coming from his coalition, whose names were also thrown around. Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov scored 8.2 percent, and the defeated 2014 SDSM candidate Stevo Pendarovski was at 6.8 percent. Radmila Sekerinska had a surprisingly poor showing at only 2.4 percent, behind Bujar Osmani and Teuta Arifi – other candidates who would rely on the SDSM and DUI parties if they decide to run, and Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski is even further back with 1.4 percent of the votes.
Broken down by ethnicity, the poll shows that Hristijan Mickoski is the leading candidate of ethnic Macedonians, with 11.9 percent of the vote, ahead of Zaev who would win 10.2 percent. Zaev relies on ethnic Albanians to pull ahead of Mickoski in the overall poll.
Telma has been running these polls for a while, and their reliability is clouded after it confidently predicted a turnout of 57.8 percent at the referendum held on September 30th on the Zaev – Tsipras name treaty, which ultimately failed with a turnout was just 36 percent.