Zoran Zaev responded to the move by DUI party leader Ali Ahmeti, who invited all other leaders of ethnic Albanian parties but Zaev, as a form of pressure.

Since the chaotic July 15 elections Ahmeti has been eager to present himself as the top Albanian leader in Macedonia, after winning 15 seats from an electorate that was also shared by the Alliance of Albanians and Alternative, SDSM, SDSM coalition partner BESA and the DPA party. After his initial call for a pan-Albanian plantform was rejected, Ahmeti called other Albanian leaders to attend his celebration of the August 13 signing of the 2001 Ohrid peace treaty, an occasion in which Ahmeti will be able to present himself as a heroic civil war commander.

Yes, this is a form of pressure against me, against SDSM and our coalition, to accept a candidate for Prime Minister proposed by DUI, Zaev said.

DUI demands that the next Prime Minister is ethnic Albanian, while Zaev insists that he will be the PM if his party leads the coalition. Last week SDSM and DUI said that they have agreed the principles of a future coalition, but shortly after Zaev downplayed expectations and said that a deal is still far off. If talks with DUI fail, or the price is too steep, Zaev’s only other option is to hope to splinter DUI and draw in other ethnic Albanian parties. Other options include some form of a grand coalition or fresh elections.