It seems that the party's new face is well-established. However, despite the successful rally, the party and the leader are still facing many problems that prevent a quick political breakthrough, and Mickoski's messages and behavior during the rally in this period, as if showing that they themselves are not aware of it.
First, Mickoski is still on the verge of political mimicry. Although he is a new leader, he is already established now, he still sounds uncomfortable, much like Gruevski. He still does not create a critical distance from those policies, he does not turn a new page. It remains a serious problem that drags him back. On the contrary, instead of devoting himself to intra-party re-branding, he enters a new narrative of a "tsunami" too quickly, hoping to produce a new euphoria for a quick return to power. Such moves, which most often come from the refusal of the parties to face internal problems, so they hope that their defeat was either a delusion by the electorate, or a conspiracy, almost always fail. Mickoski cannot avoid the fact that his party has lost power, and without addressing the reasons for such a loss of political support, with the same theses, that fact cannot change it. As long as VMRO-DPMNE does not re-brand, and thus change the essential political product, all announcements that "it’s done, we are returning to power on Monday" will remain just an unfulfilled desire. As long as the product remains unchanged, the response to the political market will remain the same.
Therefore, his theses for democracy, captured state, and independent judiciary remain ridiculous. VMRO-DPMNE, a party that for now remains politically undesirable in the European metropolis, will not return to power with a narrative of democracy - their performances there are the thinnest. The economy, reforms, efficiency and taxes - these are their strengths. But regardless of the narrative, without internal re-branding, even the best of their policies will remain unattractive.
In the end, Mickoski's theses on the name issue are misguided and confusing. He is trying to combine two incompatible narratives: the national-patriotic (as a safe refuge of VMRO-DPMNE) and the necessary pro-Western orientation of the new leadership. The society we live in has made the transformation towards openness towards both the EU and NATO. This change is irreversible, the threshold from which there is no going back has been exceeded and regardless of the boasting for the centuries-old Macedonian legacy, it will be difficult for us to go back to the xenophobia and the isolation that ruled before. The latest breakthroughs for the Macedonian identity in the negotiations only further strengthen it, and Mickoski does not have a winning combination there.
He should know this from the ratings as well. Despite the decreasing of the euphoria towards SDSM, which ruled between local and parliamentary elections, there is no substantial tectonic shift in social discourse that would make a favorable climate for change. VMRO-DPMNE still looks like the old party, the main effort of SDSM to foreign policy is still sufficient for voters to pardon other inconsistencies, and the authoritarian character of the electorate will make the difference in favor of SDSM to stabilize in the medium term. From such a position, it is possible that there will be changes only if at least one of these two happens: either the strategy for EU and NATO will fail, or VMRO-DPMNE will dramatically change its political product.
If this does not change, the worst that Zaev can do for Mickoski at this time is to accept the challenge.