A year and a half ago, during the 2017 municipal elections, the electoral map of Macedonia was painted blue. VMRO-DPMNE won just a few municipalities, small red speck in a sea of SDSM blue.
SDSM alone won 415.726 votes in these elections. Their then and current coalition partner DUI added 89.617 votes in the Albanian districts. Several smaller coalition partners like DPA and the still SDSM aligned BESA had more than 46.000.
That is about 200.000 votes more than roughly the same coalition of parties won for their presidential candidate Stevo Pendarovski yesterday. VMRO alone matched their votes, and painted the map broadly red, with the blue now relegated to a regional color, mainly in Zoran Zaev’s south-eastern stronghold around Strumica.
Then, the combined power of SDSM and DUI was above 500.000 votes. Now, Pendarovski won only 323.846 votes.
This prompted a lot of finger pointing in the ruling coalition camp. The two ethnic Albanian camps within the Government are openly feuding over the results.
And SDSM stalwarts seemed in a state of panic on social media.
It’s time to wake up. Mickooski’s voters showed up. The SDSM voters were gone! We got 300.000 less than in the referendum. This is no time to heat up passions, stage coups against our people or blame each other. We need to visit our voters in the two weeks we now have and hear them out, their reasons why they are not satisfied, one mid level SDSM official wrote on Facebook.
Plusinfo, a pro-SDSM news site, announced that the poor showing of the ruling party will lead to major personnel changes in the Zaev Government if Pendarovski still manages to win the elections, and early general elections if he doesn’t.
On the other hand, after facing years of systematic arrests and persecution, media witch hunts and international attacks, and after having most of its coalition partners join SDSM in the Government, VMRO-DPMNE repeated its result from the 2017 elections. This, despite additional calls from the right to boycott the elections as a way to delegitimize both the Zaev Government and the political process and persecution. Left alone, VMRO was still able to match the combined vote total of SDSM, DUI, dozens of smaller parties and the state apparatus and judiciary.