It didn’t take long for Zoran Zaev to transform his promise to purge corrupt officials from his own SDSM party and his coalition partner DUI into a threat that the purges will actually affect what he believes are political opponents in the public administration.

After the humiliating outcome of the first round of presidential elections, Zaev was theatrically given a broom by an actor – supporter, meant to symbolize that he needs to clean house in his own ranks. And, in an interview with TV24 this evening, he said that some of the SDSM and DUI ministers will be replaced after the elections.

Nobody will be spared from the reconstruction in the Government, Zaev said, although refusing to name names.

But, as Republika reported, all the Government officials tarred with corruption have strong backing by some faction of SDSM or DUI. Faced with this reality, Zaev is now insisting that he will fire public sector workers en masse, merely for the suspicion that they are supporters of opposition parties. This is in line with a threat he made all the way back in 2010, that once he is in power “he will be eating people alive” and “all public sector employees, from the manager to the cleaning lady, will be SDSM people”.

Zaev began implementing this threat, and dozens of SDSM and DUI officials pushed public institutions to have their relatives and spouses appointed in coveted positions in a torrent of nepotism.

There will be a clean sweep. We will make it shine. We will clean up on the other side too. There are directors, employees who were hired in the pas t11 years and now they are obstructing us, don’t work, drag us down. They even threaten us that VMRO-DPMNE will be back in power, Zaev said during a rally in Stip.

The promise to fire public sector employees and hire even more SDSM loyalists and relatives of his top brass will poll well with the SDSM base – certainly better than removing SDSM’s own corrupt officials. But this will only exacerbate the problem with nepotism and the erosion of the merit system in the public administration.