A number of SDSM party officials reportedly left the meeting of the party in anger yesterday, after they were not given enough winning seats in the lists that the party is drawing out for the general elections. It’s expected that party leader Dimitar Kovacevski and his right hand man, the Secretary General and former intelligence official Mile Zecevic – Vardarski, will try to elevate their own loyalists to Parliament, in anticipation of a leadership challenge after SDSM loses the elections.

Polls show SDSM in deep trouble against VMRO-DPMNE, and what used to be considered safe seats on the lists, are now no longer a guarantee that the candidate will enter the next Parliament. According to various reports, from Klan TV and TV24, the angry party officials include former Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, party spokesman Darko Kaevski and the head of the Customs Agency Stefan Bogoev.

Kaevski was given the 7th place in the 1st electoral district. Normally this would be a safe seat, but with SDSM down in the polls, it’s possible that Kaevski will be out. Representatives of smaller coalition partners, such as LDP and DOM, skipped Kaevski and ranked ahead of him on the list. TV24 reports that he even asked that his name is stricken from the list, if he can’t get a safe spot. Kaevski issued a social media post denying these reports.

Stefan Bogoev also denied the reports that he left the meeting in anger. According to a leaked list, Bogoev is not on the list at all.
Oliver Spasovski has the safe first seat in the 2nd north-eastern electoral district, which includes his hometown of Kumanovo. But even in his case, there were reports that he might be sent to a different electoral district, such as the neighboring 3rd eastern district. Until recently Spasovski was seen as contender for the presidential nomination, and even as a future party leader, but his feud with Kumanovo Mayor Maksim Dimitrievski split SDSM and caused a rift that may cost them the elections. His disastrous handling of the passports crisis, and the on-going gang warfare in Skopje forced him to leave public eye and fed the reports that he may flee to a different district.

SDSM are improvising in other districts as well. Former Healthcare Minister Venko Filipce, who is from Ohrid, used to represent the party in his native 5th, south-western district. But in this election, he is expected to represent the party faction led by the former leader Zoran Zaev, and will run in Zaev’s 4th electoral district, in the south-east. Zaev is not on the list, as is another former leader, Radmila Sekerinska, while their predecessor Branko Crvenkovski is seen as supporting Dimitrievski’s faction.