Following the publication of the audio recording that reveals how Zoran Zaev was influencing decisions of the Supreme Court and the Special Prosecutor’s Office, on top of the large pile of already available evidence of Zaev’s involvement in Racket and other scandals, the ruling party is faced with an unenviable choice – stick with its leader and hope for the best in the coming elections, or try to distance itself from him.

Some in SDSM are already distancing themselves from Zaev. His March for Justice, held after the scandalous adoption of the new law on state prosecutors, was a sorry affair. While SDSM could count on tens of thousands of protestors from Skopje alone at the height of the Colored Revolution, the capital sat out Zaev’s victory lap, while the bused in supporters amounted to just a few hundred. Top SDSM party officials, such as Petre Silegov, Radmila Sekerinska and Renata Deskoska, did not join Zaev for the march.

The Netpress news site reports that SDSM factions are already meeting and discussing their options in the limited available time. Zaev is a relative newcomer to the party’s top echelon, and owed his rise to the funding he could make available while SDSM was in opposition, and to Sekerinska’s decision to side with him. But Zaev’s relationship with the Skopje based wing of the party remained strained. He can count on the loyalty of the Secretary General Ljupco Nikolovski and the interim Prime Minister Oliver Spasovski, conditional on the type of other revelations that can show up, but other factions, such as the Skopje wing and the newly formed Albanian wing of the party led by Muhamed Zekiri, can be quick to turn on him or dissolve.