After months of protests and two election negotiations being canceled in 2016 in Macedonia, politicians agreed on a new parliament election that will be held on December 11, 2016. The hope is that the new assembly will be able to put an end to the political and institutional crisis in which the country has dragged on since the beginning of 2015. However, it seems difficult to resolve this crisis only through the electoral process.
In Macedonia, we see what we might call a true “seizure of the state”, characterized by an authoritarian government, led by insecure elites that press the opposition and influence the decision-making institutions for their private interests. So, in Macedonia we observe a mechanism whose works often exceed the borders of legality.
After the elections held in 2006, and early elections in 2008, 2011 and 2014 the elite led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization–Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) of Nikola Gruevski, has secured control over each segment of the state institutions. Meanwhile, weighed down by scandals that happened when it was in power (including the disputes with the neighbors that have blocked the Euro-Atlantic integration of Macedonia), the opposition has created a fertile terrain for Nikola Gruevski and his allies to patronage the current political scene of Macedonia.
The contradictions of the government erupted in early 2015 when the leader of the opposition (Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia – SDSM), Zoran Zaev has made public a series of recorded intercepts. Zaev’s materials show a series of serious crimes committed by the current government, including the illegal interceptions of at least 20 thousand citizens for at least four years. Months of protests and negotiations are reflected in so-called Przino agreements, which after the creation of the minimum conditions for a democratic and fair electoral competition, provided the new early elections that will be held in 11 December 2016. This election would put an end to the crisis created in Macedonia. The analysis of the electoral spots is enough to get an overview of the dominant narrative in this campaign. The opposition insists on the crimes emerged from the eavesdropping while the government is focused against Zaev. As already happened in the past, the ruling parties in an attempt to preserve the status quo and their power are applying the strategy which is reinforcing mistrust and polarizing the Macedonian society on ethnic lines.
The main themes of the campaign are on the basis of nationality and identity, regardless of the bad conditions of economy and the real life. The VMRO-DPMNE claims that the Social Democrats aim to undermine the unity of the state. Their charge is specially to design a federal reform of Macedonia, making Albanian an official language on the whole state. Gruevski asks the voters for a new majority in parliament, in order to avert the danger and save Macedonia “from the enemies of the state.” The nationalist rhetoric is back in vogue even among the parties of the Albanian community in Macedonia, which discuss the redefinition of the state, the creation of the federal units and the cancellation of the Ohrid agreements.
Albanians in the FYROM Elections
The upcoming elections in Macedonia recall once again the question: what will happen to the Albanians in Macedonia? 15 years after the Ohrid Agreement arrangement it would be useful to ask, how much the Albanians feel themselves represented in the Macedonian government? Referring to debates arising from Albanian parties it seems that the response to these questions is quite sad. The facts derived from wiretaps published a few months ago, showed that the Albanian government representatives have been silent about the flagrant violations against the rights of Albanians not only as constituent elements of Macedonia, but also on the issue of human rights in general.
The two political parties; the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), have been partners of the Macedonian political parties in power. These two political parties seem that they haven’t represented with dignity the Albanian part of the population in Macedonia in the terms that they have demonstrated political pragmatism avoiding disrupting relations with their governing partner.
This policy of the two parties that have mastered the Albanian votes, is inferior and has weakened many of the rights won with the Ohrid Agreement. While the silence of DUI, which has been in power during the recent mandates, has faded the dream of many Albanians that already would have coexistence right with the Macedonians or other nationalities living in Macedonia.
Faced with this political picture that brought by the two political parties, which have participated in the governance of Macedonia, it seems that the Albanians’ status needs to be re-dimensioned from Albanian leaders or political forces that are not afraid of the past. The best way is to elect people who see the power as a path of coexistence, not division of plots to survive the small interests. After the elections of December 11, the Albanians need to be represented in Skopje more than in the suburbs of Macedonia.
The division of political plots, has confirmed that the Albanians as a part of the co-governance in their country mark only loss in the functioning of their legitimate rights. Therefore, the most important part in these elections, is the return of a policy that is focused on finding the ways of coexistence through respecting the rights of other nationalities and languages and cooperating to build a common future together.
Albanians need to feel themselves as a part of the government. Thus, the Ohrid Agreement is a significant milestone for the Albanians in Macedonia. Albanians in Skopje, Tetovo, Gostivar municipalities should choose precisely those who represent them, treating them as citizens with equal rights with everyone else who is a citizen of Macedonia.