VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski revealed that SDSM party officials are touring embassies in Skopje, asking them to push for a more favorable outcome in the coming elections. Specifically, SDSM was asking the embassies who have some influence over the opposition Albanian parties to ask them not to nominate a presidential candidate.

SDSM is badly down in the polls against VMRO, and their main hope is that their candidate will perform better in the first round of the presidential elections, creating some forward movement for the second round of the presidential elections, and the crucial general elections, that will take place on May 8th. And for this, SDSM desperately needs a joint presidential candidate with the Albanian DUI party, that would get most of the Albanian vote, and hopefully cancel out the large deficit SDSM has among Macedonian voters.

The three opposition Albanian parties, BESA, Alternative and Democratic Movement, united in a bloc called European Movement for Change, plan to nominate their own presidential candidate, to show their strength. In the first round of the elections their candidate will possibly draw Albanian voters from DUI, who are not prepared to vote for an ethnic Macedonian nominated by SDSM. This is putting pressure on DUI to refuse SDSM’s demand for a joint candidate and run its own candidate, who would show that the party is stronger than the united Albanian opposition. But it would also mean a significant defeat for the SDSM candidate in the first round of the presidential elections and demoralize SDSM voters in the general elections. In this case, VMRO expects to beat the SDSM candidate by 150,000 votes. The potential Albanian candidates will likely drop out in the first round, and only the two strongest candidates – presumably those nominated by VMRO and SDSM – will advance to the second round, but this competition between the Albanian blocs could end up costing SDSM.