It is not easy to describe Macedonia as a ‘democracy’, or ‘multiethnic democracy’. It would be closer to the real political process to say that the country adopted a liberal democratic framework in 1991. In view of the different level of democracies, Macedonia most probably belongs to the ‘electoral democracies’, although the elections are not always free, honest and fair. After the dissolution of the Yugoslav Federation, Macedonia was built up as a nation-state with a majoritarian political design. After the violent armed conflict in 2001 and with the mediation of EU and USA, the leaders of the four main parliamentarian parties, two Macedonian and two Albanian signed a peace treaty, the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The country was put on a new track of ‘power-sharing arrangement’. The main challenges for this ‘peace plan’ are two tendencies: nationalism and the poor level of democracy.
The paper encompasses a longer period of time and is divided into several sections: 1. The new world (dis)order; 2. The logic of the democratic process; 3. Introducing proportionality; 4. Majoritarian versus consociational model. The debate in Macedonian society; 5. The causes of deadly ethnic conflicts; 6. Is Macedonia a deeply divided society?; 7. The main challenges to power-sharing model. Nationalism and poor democratic performance; 8. MRO-DPMNE marks its political territory as conservative, ethno-national, rightist party; 9. The state of democracy; 10. What is next? The emerging scenarios (11) are based on structural trends and the intervening factors, having in mind the limitation of social sciences in comparison with the more exact ones.
Key words: multiethnic democracy, deeply divided societies, ethnic conflicts, reconciliation and prevention
One does not have to go too far back in history to be able to talk about the state of democracy in Macedonia. The turning point was in 1989. The huge wave of social and political changes, whose epicenter was in Moscow, flooded Eastern Europe and the Yugoslav Federation (1945-1992) from Slovenia in the North to Macedonia in the South. Millions of lives were affected by the changes of the political regime, causing not only a specter of emotions, from fear to hope, but brutal civil wars as well. As Huan Linz stated ten years earlier, such dramas symbolize the transfer of power fixing in the memory of people as important dates (Linz 1978). Actually Linz spoke about the breakdown of already existing democratic regimes, while the scholars in the 1990s debated the establishing of democracy, political development and social engineering in the societies of Eastern Europe. Same authors named 1989 the year of the ‘new world disorder’ (Jowitt 1991), or even ‘the end of history’ (Fukuyama 1989). It sounded very appropriate when it was said that communist regimes lost their ‘mandate for Haven’ (Fukuyama 1992). But the main concern was if the revolutions of 1989 set the stage for the establishment of stable multiparty democracies? To simplify: can the democracy work in Eastern Europe, where the market economy wasn’t even established on a healthy ground, where the democratic traditions as well as the protection of human rights were weak? The answer came very quickly. Once the stitch was cut, the fissure began to enlarge and it was impossible to stop it. (Di Palma 1991). It was quite clear that those who began with some reforms in Eastern Europe, didn’t sincerely want democracy.
In Macedonia, the Communist Party introduced smaller reforms with the intention to keep intact the socialist system, but the reforms took unexpected and unwanted direction. University professor S. Skaric, who had political function at that time, published in Nova Makedonija daily an article, which was very typical at that time for the state of mind of the large majority of the political and intellectual elite: “We are against multi-party system, although we want to inject in the ‘game’ all of its advantages” (Nova Makedonija, 5 November 1989). The small ‘liberal’ changes to keep the regime alive gave unexpected results. Yugoslavia was not an orthodox communist country and in the libraries of the Law Faculty in Skopje or that of the Institute of Sociological and Political Research, one could find, beside the classics of political thoughts of Plato and Aristotle, the works of Laswell, Dahl, Almond, Verba, Powell and many other Western political scientists. The influence of the democratic circles of Ljubljana, Zagreb or Belgrade was strong and it was a matter of time when Macedonia would ride the democratic wave. In the academic journal Dialogue and in the newspapers of the country, some ‘excommunicated’ university professors who belonged to so called ‘liberals’ from 1970s (S. Milosavlevski, D. Dimitrov, D. Mircev, M. Maleska, D. Maleski) first articulated that ‘new democratic spirit’. Unfortunately, later on, the political freedom unleashed extreme nationalism in Yugoslavia, which caused the bloody civil war, especially in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The rest is history.
The process of democratization has its own logic in the choice of some of the institutional solutions. In 1992, Lijphart and Rohan compared democracy and the institutional choices in Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. They came to the conclusion that a relevant general theory about the transition from communism to democracy doesn’t exist. However, they believed that two theses were relevant. First, the logic of the democratic processes is in close connection with the approximate equalization of the power for negotiation between ‘old established parties’ and ‘new democratic forces’. The result then was a proportional versus majoritarian electoral model and the choice of parliamentary democracy versus the presidential system. The second thesis was that in societies which are deeply divided along ethnic lines, the choice of some institutional solutions is limited by the factor of the existing ethnic divisions. (Lijphart 1992).
It turned out that these theses were useful research tools for similar situations. In Macedonia at the beginning of 1990s some informal negotiation between the ‘old established party’ (Communist Alliance) and the ‘new forces’, mainly the nationalistic rightist party, VMRO-DPMNE, were decisive in the choice of some institutional solutions. The communists expected electoral victory and favored the pure majoritarian electoral model and some kind of presidential system. The ‘new forces’ (VMRO-DPMNE) asked for a strong parliamentary system but at the end agreed with its moderation. Thus, the power of the parliament and executive authority was balanced with the power of veto and other ‘checks’ by the institution of the President of the Republic.
In the first election in 1990, 16 political parties competed. VMRO-DPMNE won with 38 MP seats in the new parliamentary composition out of a total of 120 MPs. The second largest MP group was the Communist Alliance – Party for Democratic Changes (later on SDSM) with 31 MPs. The ethnic Albanians from Macedonia were represented with 22 MPs coming from the party PDP. The first President Kiro Gligorov was elected through the negotiation or bargaining in the Parliament, to reach 2/3 of the votes. The Albanian MPs voted for Gligorov as well. Thus, with two thirds majority, secured by the former communists, the new nationalists and the ethnic Albanians, Kiro Gligorov became the first president of the independent state. Since he undertook this function through a process of negotiations, no political party at that moment disputed his legitimacy, and he was able to tackle the difficult tasks facing him, first of all the independence of the country and its international recognition. The majoritarian system proved unfavorable to most small ethnic parties of Turks, Romas, Serbs and the others. The next elections in 1994 were also carried out according to the rules of majoritarian electoral system and brought the electoral victory to the leftist party, SDSM. The concentration of power in the hands of this party increased when the President of the Republic, Kiro Gligorov, once again was elected for the office on general and direct elections with high turnout in the second round of 50%.
From 1990 to 1998 the Communist Alliance – Party for Democratic Changes (SKM-PDP) consolidated its power and changed its name into Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM). Although the party of Albanians, PDP, was its coalition partner in the government, there weren’t serious discussions of possible power-sharing. The reasons were multiple: civil war in Yugoslavia; different kinds of blockades; fear of the dissolution of Macedonia; dispute with Greece about the ‘name issue’; anti-Albanian feelings coming first of all from the opposition party VMRO-DPMNE, and the ideal of building Macedonia as a nation-state. The concentration of power in the hands of one political party (SDSM), however, produced most of all a lack of willingness to engage in any political dialogue or compromise, harming the position of its coalition partner Albanian PDP. The former president of this Party A. Aliti, many times publically said: “I couldn’t give anything meaningful to my voters”. His party lost the next elections, and a new more radical Albanian party appeared on the political scene (Democratic Party of Albanians or DPA)
The idea to change the majoritarian electoral model into semi-proportional came as a result of the prediction that the ruling party, SDSM, will lose the coming elections. The economic situation in the country was very difficult because of the two embargos imposed by Greece and one embargo imposed on Serbia by the UN. The unemployment rate was over 30% and some financial scandals (TAT) shocked the public sphere. The officials of the ruling party were accused of criminal privatization, violating the UN embargo, smuggling tobacco and corruption. The Albanian coalition partner PDP wasn’t totally innocent, having access to the profit of the sanctions.
The parties do have the ability to predict their electoral results. Convinced that the elections are lost, the ruling party SDSM proposed the change of the electoral model from majoritarian to semi-proportional. The smaller parties of Turks, Roma, Serbs and Boshniak also made a pressure in the direction of greater proportionality, thus proving the Liphart’s theses that ethnic divisions influence the choice of institutional solutions. As a result of the new model, the number of political parties slightly increased from 19 in the first round in 1990, to 23 in 1998. Because SDSM lost the elections, the power was transferred to VMRO-DPMNE and its coalition partner, the Albanian party DPA. This mixed (majoritarian/proportional) model was changed once again into pure proportional one before the 2002 elections, as a result of the principle of proportionality in the Ohrid Framework Agreement. The number of competing parties increased (55) as well as the MPs belonging to the Albanian, Turk, Roma and other communities. A coalition government, composed of the winners in both communities, the Macedonian and the Albanian one, in time became a custom, not an exception.
The debate about the advantages and disadvantages of the majoritarian versus proportional electoral system is not new. It is a common knowledge that in the majoritarian system, the winner takes it all. The main result is an efficient and responsible one-party government. On the other hand, localism and local politics prevail (Sartori 1994: 76). Proportional representation is described as a more just system. The victory is divided among the participants in the elections and is translated into parliamentarian seats. Additionally, Lijphart’s research proved that coalition governments can also be efficient and responsible (Lijphart 1968). Today, most of the countries of South East Europe, have the proportional electoral system. In ethnically divided societies, the choice is not entirely the result of the free will. Institutional solutions made by social engineers are limited by the factor of existing divisions (Lijphart 1992). But in the framework of PR, the choice between more or less proportional formulas to translate the votes into Parliamentary seats is open in Macedonia, as well as the debate about political consequences of the implementation of different formulas (pure or modified Saint-Lague, largest reminders or Imperial, rigid non geographic ethnic district, optional ethnic districts, predetermined ethnically mixed slates and special exemptions for ethnic minorities). For example, Sartori believes that a pure form of proportional representation works against itself. In the ‘extremist package’ of Lijphart, proportional representation could be ‘a kiss of death” damaging democratic process and human rights. (Sartori 1994: 76). One the other hand, Guelke, for example, suggests alternative vote system and the theory behind the creation of open seats (alongside provisions for power-sharing) as a good solution for some societies (Fiji). Alternative vote system encourages moderation and inter-ethnic cooperation, but has limited effects. The majority of the seats remained the preserve of one community or the other (Guelke 2012: 24).
Electoral ethnic engineering, beside proportionality and alternative vote system, also includes the preferential vote system and reserved mandates for smaller and dispersed ethnicities (like the Turks, Serbs or Roma in Macedonia). Of course, ethnic representation has its negative implications on the other aspects of the democratic process, but its advantage is that it recognizes group interests and assures their representation in politics. Thus, the electoral system is indeed integral part of the management of interethnic relations (Bieber 2004). In Macedonia proportionality helped in articulation and even moderation of group interests. On the last local elections two big coalitions competed, composed of Macedonian, Turkish, Roma or Serbs parties. If this tendency continues, the future debate will be around the more or less proportional formulas. The question is how to translate electoral votes into parliamentary seats, open lists and to assure reserved seats for small and disperse minorities. But the most important discussion about the vote system is how to encourage moderation and inter-ethnic cooperation, having in mind what Guelke argues:
And a fair conclusion would be that none of the cases debated in the literature provides conclusive evidence as to which electoral system might prove optimal in a deeply divided society. (Guelke 2012: 24).
Most concepts of democracy are based on the principle of ‘government by the people’ (Haywood 1997). From 1991, when the Constitution of Macedonia was adopted, to 2001, almost no one contested that ‘the people’ primarily meant ‘the majority’ or the ethnic Macedonians, who composed 64.2% of the population against 25.2% of Albanians and the others, Turks, Romas, Vlachos, Serbs and Boshnijaks. Political representatives as well as the academic circles strongly favored majoritarianisam, based on the principle of political equality, as one of the core principle of democracy. Their argument in the debate was that each individual member carries the same weight and all voices are equally loud. This is often summed up as the principle ‘one person, one vote’. However this ideal was questioned by the political party of the Albanians PDPA/NDP since the beginning of the independence of the country. Thus, the Constitution was actually adopted in 1991 without the votes of the Albanian MPs, because most of their demands were rejected. Twenty three representatives of the Albanian political party (out of 120 MPs) did not vote, although they had actively participated in parliamentary procedures. Inter-ethnic tensions in the country mounted in future years, and on 9 of July 1997 the police from one side and Albanian protesters on the other side clashed in Gostivar. The reason was that the Albanian flag was raised in front of the municipality building, which was against the law. Three people were killed and some others wounded. In September I published a book “Ethnic conflict and accommodation” (Kultura, 1997). It was the very first criticism of majoritarianism as the model of democracy which is not too sensitive towards minorities and individuals. The debate was opened and closed at the same moment. Obviously the society was not prepared for changes. The next year, the university professor G. Ivanov defended his doctoral thesis where he refused the possibility of success of the consociational model in Macedonia, representing the general trend toward the demands of ethnic Albanians in the country. The debate about consociationalism gained in ferocity after 2001. Because the Ohrid Framework Agreement was imposed after a violent conflict and with the mediation and guarantee of the EU and USA, the trauma surrounding its birth hampered its legitimacy at least in the beginning. In the academic circles, the voices pro and against the ‘power-sharing model’ even today stretches from the ‘scream’ and rejection to criticism and justification. Some most characteristic contras are that ‘power-sharing’ is imposed by force and doesn’t lead toward integration and democracy but toward disintegration and regress (Vankovska 2011); Or, the OFA institutionalized ethnicity to such a degree that there is no room left for any integration or common action among groups (Vankovska 2011); the fundamental constitutional principle of citizen is replaced by collectivity (Siljanovska 2006). The arguments in favor of the OFA and ‘power-sharing’ mainly were coming from the scholars around the ‘New Balkan Politics’ journal: that the majoritarian model was insensitive and even unjust toward the minorities and the constitution from 1991 put the society in a ‘wrong track’ (Maleski 2005). In assessing any power-sharing transformation it is essential to compare it to its alternatives. What could possibly be the alternative for Macedonia, after experiencing a violent conflict in 2001?
Conflicts between ethnic groups represent a serious and growing challenge to domestic and international security. Such conflicts are often brutal and violent (Gurr 1998). Ethnicity has fought and bled and burned its way into public consciousness (Horowitz 1985). The interest in ethnicity has sprung not from rational analysis by armchair philosophers, but from the desperate search for solutions to end the acute ethnic conflicts which began with the end of the Cold War (Moynihan 1993).
In political theory, there are several explanations for ethno-political conflicts, which are sometimes called “internal conflicts”. Some authors focus on security issues, in which fear and mistrust between ethnic groups can develop into armed conflict (Posen 1983). Others emphasize the role of “domestic factors”, such as the economy, the capacity of the state, nationalism, or the immaturity of the democratic process (Brown 1993). Yet others locate the basic reason for the outbreak of conflicts in the exclusion of minorities from accessing the instruments of power-sharing (Lijphart 1984). The socio-psychological approach draws attention to false history or myths that are transmitted from one generation to the next, because they play a significant role in the creation of ethnic identity (Horowitz, 1985). Zartman (1995) summarized the problem of excluding minorities, saying that “national conflicts … may be summed up in two related categories – negligence and discrimination, or problem of distribution and problem of identity” (Maleska 2010). On the other hand, there is the view that ethnic conflict is primarily elite-driven with elites framing popular grievances in ethnic terms, so that the institutionalization of ethnic equality and more generally the appeasement of ethnic demands rewards intransigence among leaders and congeals social divisions (Todd 2010). The truth is that the reasons of ethnic conflicts are complex and every case has its own specific characteristics. For example, the crisis in Kosovo in 1999 had a spillover effect in Macedonia, but there was also a genuine negligence or, in some aspects, even discrimination of Albanians in Macedonia. At the beginning NLA was a small group of insurgents. In March 2001 the movement counted around 4000 combatants (Hislope 2006).
It is more than obvious that all societies are divided in one way or another. Class and cast, religion and sectarianism, language and race as well as ethnicity are among the most important divisions (Guelke 2012). The “mono-ethnic” nature of public spending at the central level, for example in Macedonia could also be a serious line of division (Stojkov 2013). Ethnicity is usually connected with a common proper name; a myth of common ancestry; shared historical memories; elements of common cultures (religion and language); a link with a homeland (not necessarily its physical occupation) and a sense of solidarity (Maleska 1997, Gueke 2012).
In political theory the idea of ‘deeply divided’ societies is usually associated with political instability or tragic conflicts, like those that followed the dissolution of Yugoslavia. That is the reason why this concept is important to us. The concept developed by Nordlinger, Lustick, Guelke and other authors comprises several important characteristic: 1) many of the various existing cleavages are capable of producing a deeply divided society, but the binary division, along ethnic lines. is the most dangerous one. The existence of more than two groups tends to militate against the polarization; 2) Not all the divisions but those that might polarize a society politically, create the basis for a deeply divided society; 3) Political disagreements exist in every society, but in deeply divided societies the major cleavage affects a wide range of issues. Most of the issues are politicized or ethicized and prevent the formation of political coalitions on issues that cut across the main societal divide; 4) potential of widespread political violence and 5) The polity is deficient in legitimacy or when a large number of conflict group members attach overwhelming importance to the issues at stake, or manifest strongly held antagonistic beliefs and emotions toward the opposing segment, or both (Nordlinger 1992: 9; Guelke 2012). One way in which a deeply divided society might be distinguished from other societies is that in a deeply divided society conflict exists along well entrenched fault line that is recurrent and endemic and that contains the potential for violence between segments (Nordlinger 1972: 9).
It doesn’t mean that the society which once experienced a violent conflict is condemned for ever to the destiny of deeply divided society. In Macedonia, the deadly conflict from 2001 which started with the territorial claims of the insurgents, finished with the demands for greater group rights for the Albanians under the mediation of so called ‘international community’ which guaranteed the implementation of the Ohrid Framework Agreement and was the main financier of the ‘peace project’. “There isn’t territorial solution for ethnic conflicts” – full stop. But we are far from integrated society. The persistence of ethnic parties, the lack of pre electoral ethnic coalition between Macedonian and Albanian parties; the incapability of political coalitions to stand behind the issues that cut across the main societal divide; ethnically colored violence between young people in schools, busses or streets; the lack of the public apology of the politicians who contributed with their nationalism to the conflict of 2001; turning the back to the truth of why the deadly conflict started; unwillingness of the politicians and the juridical system to deal with the war criminals etc. didn’t help to develop a ‘culture of peace’ (Guelke). That peace is more important than all other issues including the issue of borders. In the last 10 years the situation in the Western Balkans is more stable than at the beginning of the 1990s. Albania became a member of NATO and Kosovo got its independence. The main source of potential instability today is the status of Northern Kosovo which is a subject of negotiations between Serbia and Kosovo. The integration of Macedonia in EU and NATO will contribute to the better inter-ethnic relations because all political parties in the country agree with these strategic aims for joining a Europe without borders. The other factor that has influence on the ‘power-sharing’ is the leadership. Do the leaders work for more integrated society or do they have a secret agenda for territorial separation? In Macedonia, the leader of the former Liberation Army (ONA), Ali Ahmeti, many times, at least publically, declared that the Albanians he represents do not have territorial claims. That doesn’t mean that all agree with him. Inside DUI radical fractions also exist; outside DUI as well. The uncle of Ali Ahmeti, Fazli Veliu in his book “ONA from battle to battle: The massages ,not finnished” dedicated to “vehement patriots” spoke about ‘liberation of Albanian territories’ in Macedonia. For him, the OFA is a bad compromise and a temporary solution (Veliu 2008). Among Albanians in the Region there are more radical fractions that advocate Greater Albania with the use of arms. If Northern Kosovo remains to be an open problem for a long time, it will cause radicalization of the situation in Western Balkans
The “power-sharing” model, which emerged from a war crisis is a peace agreement that put an end to the war conflict, actually admits the division of the society along the ethnic lines. At the same time, there is an attempt to bridge the ethnic gap with this model. The “power-sharing” therefore, contains solutions that can be abused if somebody misuses its power and wants to disintegrate the country. It all depends on the moderate attitude of the citizens, and before that, on the politicians and their commitment to the values of democracy and human rights and freedoms instead of their “national cause” (Maleska 2005). It proved true that the main challenges to a consociational agreement are likely to come from two places: from (a) Radical groups within the minority that reject any deal with the ‘oppressive majority’ and demand full independence (ETA in Spain, certain elements within the Quebecois, the Real IRA in Northern Ireland, etc.); and (b) Conservative groups within the majority that are afraid, often irrationally, of losing power and, even more so, of allowing the polity to change its fundamental character (Guelke). Although in Macedonia there aren’t significant groups among minorities that reject any deal with the ‘oppressive majority’, Macedonian and Albanian nationalism are very powerful mobilizing factor, undermining the process of reconciliation and accommodation through ‘power-sharing’. Two Albanian states on the borders of Macedonia give an additional weight to the Albanian ethno-nationalism.
In modern political science, Gelner’s definition of nationalism is widely accepted .It is a political principle asserting that political and national units should coincide. Nationalistic sentiment is a feeling of anger or rage provoked by the breaking of this principle (Gelner, 2006). Macedonia is certainly not the only country where the citizens feel hurt by unjust border solutions in the past or even power-sharing deal in the present. This feeling of anger is a fruitful ground for mobilisation of people. The electoral results are the strongest indicator that in continuity, the most successful political position in Macedonia is that of being patriot and ethnic-nationalist. The politicians and political parties who use or misuse the feelings of fear or the ‘burning feeling of injustice’ (Guelke) win the elections. And vice versa, those who are more cooperative or more ready for ‘anti-patriotic’ compromises lose the elections. Some examples are very illustrative. In 2002, after the armed conflict, the leftist party SDSM won the elections. The voters punished the previous coalition government (of VMRO-DPMNE and DPA), because it wasn’t able efficiently to deal with the Albanian insurgence. But the decisions that SDSM had to make in its four-year mandate were difficult for the ethnic Macedonians: forming a government together with the recent enemies; changing the national character of the state into ‘power-sharing’ as an obligation of the Peace Agreement (OFA); handing over to its Albanian coalition partner, DUI, some municipalities in Western Macedonia, such as Struga and Kichevo, which were traditionally under the authority of the ethnic Macedonians, etc. The party (SDSM) that set off to undertake unpopular solutions in the name of peace and stability of the country lost the elections in 2006. After that, the lesson was learned. This party stopped to play constructive role and formed a coalition with VMRO-DPMNE in the ethnically mixed communities of Kichevo and Struga on the last local election in March 2013, opposing the choice of ethnic Albanians for mayors. Any discussion about individual values of the candidates were left aside. The only thing that mattered was if the candidates for mayors are Macedonians or Albanians. Stuga and Kichevo must fall were the slogans from the Albanian side. Stuga and Kichevo are ours! Those towns are in Macedonia and will stay in Macedonia, was the message of the prime minister! Thus the process of reconciliation was always on ‘glass legs’. The main political act in the direction of reconciliation was the political amnesty of all who were involved in the violent conflict of 2001. As always, the amnesty caused deep misunderstanding in the society and split between legalists, who are against and politicians who are usually in favor of amnesty. For the legalists the war crimes couldn’t be amnestied while the political deal between VMRO-DPMNE and DUI was that all cases including war crimes against the civilians went under the umbrella of amnesty. Thus, no one took the responsibility for the innocent civilians, Macedonians as well as Albanians, who were kidnapped and killed during the deadly conflict in 2001. The logical question is why a party that play on the anger and the ‘burning feeling of injustice’ all the time, amnestied war criminals? Because it is easier to play with the feelings of the people than to solve the complicated and sensitive issue that can cost the party and its leader to lose the support of the voters. The ideal of the nationalists was always a clean national state, without a minority group which is large enough in percentage to make headaches. If not exchange of territories and population, a politics which is not popular in today’s Europe, then federalization. In his article, “The end of mutual life”, I. Bocevski in Nova Makedonija (12 April, 2013) stated: ‘The Ohrid Framework Agreement spent its useful value”! We have to federalize!
Another very illustrative example of misusing the ‘burning feeling of injustice’ is the Macedonian-Greek dispute about the name of the country. The early elections in 2008 were provoked by the political crisis that Greece’s strong pressure on Macedonia caused, by insisting that the country should change its name, erga omnes, as a precondition for its membership in NATO and EU. The Bucharest Summit in 2008, when Greece put a veto on Macedonia’s entrance in NATO, was only the peak of its long time demonstration of power. The veto directly affected the political stability of the country. The opposition party SDSM accused the government of destroying the European future of the country. The government accused the opposition of treason. The fierce mutual accusations led the whole society in a paranoid atmosphere of searching for culprits, so that the epilogue was organizing early elections. The opposition party, leftist SDSM, lost the elections. The citizens of Macedonia responded to the Bucharest veto by giving massive support to the position of non yielding to Greece of the rightist-centrist party VMRO-DPMNE and its leader. The genuine ‘burning feeling of injustice’ (Guelke) that someone wants by force to deprive the nation of its identity was politically articulated but also manipulated. In combination with the concentration of power which is not constrained by strong opposition, free and independent press and civil organizations, the final result is absurd twisting of the basic Macedonian identity from Slavic to ’something of everything’. The project Skopje 2014 is a good illustration of that twisted state of mind. Therefore if the ‘name issue’ stays open long enough and if the citizens perceive Albanian nationalism as threatening for their security, the nationalism in the country will flourish as well as the autocratic way of government of a party or parties that are perceived as a ‘savior’.
>On 11 April 2013 on the central square of Skopje, a governmental institution organized welcoming to Johan Trculovski. He was a former policeman who was sentenced to prison by the Hague’s International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia for killing Albanian civilians in the village of Ljuboten, in the action of retaliation in 2001. He was welcomed in Skopje as a national hero. During the celebration, the prime minister and the other members of the government proudly stood in the first row. The minister of interior discretely wiped her tears. All manifestation was highly emotional and patriotic, reserved only for ethnic Macedonians with similar feelings. At the end, the President of the Republic organized a reception for ‘our hero’! The same day, as the police reported, several young Albanians were beaten by a mob on the streets of the town without any guilt.
Some months ago, the Albanians in Macedonia, also in highly patriotic and emotional atmosphere, celebrated the birth of the Albanian flag. The news reported:
More than 1,000 ethnic Albanians, decked out in red and black – the colors of the Albanian flag – marched on Sunday through the streets of the Macedonian capital Skopje to mark the 100th anniversary of Albania's independence from the Ottoman Empire. On Saturday several incidents were recorded in Skopje. In the predominantly ethnic Albanian neighborhood the Macedonian flag was taken down and burned. In a different neighborhood, a group of around 30 people attacked several children. The police declined to comment on the ethnicity of the perpetrators and the victims, but the local media reported that the children were Macedonian while the attackers were ethnic Albanians (Balkan Insight 26 November 2012).
The guests on the central celebration in Skopje, Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, gave extremely nationalistic speeches. "I urge all the neighbors to understand that there is nothing wrong in the national unity of Albanians," Berisha said, cheered by a crowd chanting "Great Albania" and waving Albanian red flags (AFP, 25 November 2012).
Was the violent conflict of 2001 a battle for minority rights or it was an armed attempt for secession? The debate about this issue brought the Macedonian Parliament in August of the previous year on the edge of a deep political crisis. The government of the national party VMRO-DPMNE proposed the ‘Law for the defenders’. Its coalition partner, Albanian party DUI fiercely opposed, threatening that will leave the government and demand early elections. The ‘Law for the Defenders’ regulated some benefits of the people who took part in the 2001 armed conflict on the side of the state’s armed forces. DUI asked the same recognition and privileges for the combatants from previous Albanian guerilla army ONA. The opposition party SDSM gave its support to the government proposal forming with VMRO-DPMNE an ethnic Macedonian opposition to the Albanians MPs. The crisis was delayed, thanks to the useful American ‘invention’ of the filibuster or legal obstruction of the law for the Defenders, with an enormous number of amendments. The Law hasn’t been adopted yet. Thus, the national, rightist VMRO-DPMNE which has been in power since 2006 revives, reheats the nationalistic feelings and thus undermines the process of reconciliation. The party leans on the majority support of its conservative, religious, nationalistic voters.
In December 2012, the opposition party, leftist SDSM, used the same method of filibuster as DUI did, during the procedure of passing the budget in the Parliament. The opposition seriously criticized the unproductive expenditure for the project ‘Skopje 2014’ and other economic policies of the government. The long time mistrust between two biggest parties in the Parliament reached its pick. The powerful VMRO-DPMNE didn’t see any reason to negotiate or compromise. It had with its coalition partner DUI necessary majority. The culture of dialogue and compromise is not a strong side of the domestic political culture. The opposition feared that the great deal of the foreign credits in the budget will be spent for the coming electoral campaign, as it was before. To provoke negotiation, the opposition used filibuster, a legal obstruction of the proposed budget in the form of enormous number of amendments. At the end of the ‘story’, after a fight between MPs, the President of the Parliament call the police and all members of the opposition as well as the journalists who followed the session were forcibly expelled outside of the Parliament. It wasn’t a ‘glorious’ episode and the opposition decided to boycott the work of the Parliament and protest on the streets. They demanded a ‘commission of truth’ and early parliamentary elections. In these dramatic days, the Albanian partner in the government, DUI, stayed aside, thus giving support to the lawless violence over the opposition MPs and the journalists. The leadership of DUI didn’t care about the democratic principles or Parliamentary rules. They had their own agenda, which had nothing in common with democracy, but had to do with the allocation of power and other resources. As a guest of thankfulness, the prime minister nominated, the former guerilla officer from DUI, T. Xhaferi, for Minister of Defense! The opposition didn’t miss the opportunity to ride on the wave of citizen’s dissatisfaction with this choice. The street demonstrations of the Macedonians finished with inter-ethnic violence on the streets, as well as the next counter-demonstration of ethnic Albanians. The local elections in March were held in such deeply disturbing political situation. The opposition under the pressure of EU diplomats took part in the electoral process and overwhelmingly lost. Although the electoral run was unfair and government’s political propaganda damaged the reputation of the opposition, on the local level in the ethnically mixed municipalities Stuga and Kichevo, VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM united in an Macedonian ethnic coalition to support ethnic Macedonians for mayors. On the other side, the Albanian parties lead also an extremely nationalistic campaign that frightened their co-citizens of other ethnic origins. The candidates for the mayors of Kichevo and Chair (Skopje), Dehari and Mexhiti in Chicago in front of the Albanian emigration used very nationalistic rhetoric. Kichevo and Stuga must fall, they said, because the idea of ‘united ethnic Albania’ can’t be realized! The candidate for the mayor of the municipality of Kichevo where, 40% are Macedonians and more than 10% are Turks and Romas, posted on FB his photo from his guerrilla days in uniform and Kalashnikov! And he has to be a modern politician who will address the local problems of all citizens! If the power-sharing deal has to work, the ethnic gulf should not be too wide. Too much nationalism that makes the divisions even deeper and more painful is not a recipe for stable power-sharing. On the contrary. If this trend of fostering nationalism on both sides and especially on the side of the present government, then the stability of the country will be challenged as well as the democratic governance. In such a situation, there is an almost natural need of people to turn toward autocratic way of governance (Guelke). The last local election in 2013 exactly proved this thesis.
The theory of democracy requires: legal freedom to formulate and advocate political alternatives with the concomitant rights to free association, free speech and other basic freedoms of the people; free and nonviolent competition among leaders with periodic validations of their claim to rule; inclusion of all effective political offices in the democratic process; and provision for the participation of all members of the political community, whatever their political preferences. Practically, this means the freedom to create political parties and to conduct free and honest elections at regular intervals without excluding any effective political office from direct and indirect electoral accountability (Linz 1978; Dahl 1998). Opposition is an important part of this concept, because democracy is the system of limited governmental power (Diamond 2013). The principles such as the rule of law, justice, equality, integrity, transparency, the protection of human rights and so on, constrain power and hold it accountable. In ethnically divided societies, special attention should be given to participatory inclusion that guarantees the involvement of all significant ethnic groups. Full equality – in law and in practice – to all individuals and groups, regardless of ethnic or national identity, should be promoted (Guelke 2012). Among different stages of democracy, Macedonia is probably on the basic level of electoral democracy. The core team of 11 staff from 9 participating states, 16 long term observers deployed throughout the country and 300 short-term observers, beside domestic NGOs, observed the local election in March 2013. In the Statement of Parliamentary Findings and Conclusions (ODIHR/OSCE), the elections are valued as affective, but not as fair or honest. The last ‘episode of dishonesty’ was the decision of the Administrative Court against the victory after two rounds of voting, of the opposition’s candidate Zernovski in the city central municipality ‘Centar’. The same happened in Stuga. This court accepted the objections of the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE against the decision of the State Electoral Commission. The State Electoral Commission stated that its decision was based on the law thus insinuation the partiality of the decision of the Administrative Court. The President of the Administrative Court immediately resign. The citizens in the municipality of ‘Center’ and Struga will go to vote for the third time.
The elections finished with overwhelming victory of the ruling coalition VMRO-DPMNE and DUI (VMRO-DPMNE candidates for mayors, won in 57 municipalities out of 80 plus the town of Skopje. Its coalition partner, DUI won in 14 municipalities). The campaign was lead with a clear aim – not to win the opposition but to annul it, cutting its access to power in the municipalities. The pre election message that was constantly sent to the voters from the prime minister and other ministers engaged in the campaign was: Vote for us or the municipality will suffer the lack of money. An MP from this party Gorcev wrote in his column in Dnevnik (March 2013) that the mayors from the opposition are unprofitable!!! The conflict between central and local level of government are usual in every country. Each municipality wants to shield its citizens from increasing the local tax burden, as it is much easier to rely on the central budget transfers (Stojkovski 2013) but in this case the politics of the central government toward the municipalities where the mayors are from the opposition party takes a form of retaliation. The indicator could be the newest statement coming from VMRO-DPMNE official, Dimovski, in Dnevnik. He said the mayors have too much power that can corrupt them; they have to be deprived of such power!
From its side the opposition took a strategy of silent boycott of the Parliament. They retrieved from the parliamentarian procedure more than 10 of their initiatives. In such political context, it is impossible to expect inclusive dialogue and a declaration, as the EU Commission expects, about the difficult problem of the ‘name issue’ with Greece or history issues with Bulgaria. Thus the integration of Macedonia into EU and NATO is right now in a ‘deadlock’.
a. The inertial scenario
The proportionality will stay on this level. No one will initiate any changes in the direction of more proportional formulas which will satisfy smaller minorities, first of all. The non-proportional binary division (64,2% of Macedonian versus 25,2% of Albanians and approximately 65% Christians versus 32% Muslims) that may give rise to ethnic conflicts remains to be a persistent fault in the society. The present level of proportionality reflects in the Parliament the ethnic composition of the society. The very small minorities are not satisfied. They think they are underrepresented and that the ‘power-sharing’ makes Macedonia bi-national state. The government will be formed in the future by the party that wins in the parliamentary election. It depends on the party leader and the future prime minister if an Albanian party will be invited as a coalition partner in the government. The President of the Republic is a ‘party’s man’. He can’t play his role of balancing and checking the power of the Parliament or the government. He is elected in the second election round with 40%. The votes of the Albanian citizens are not important for the victory of the candidate for President. The Albanians will continue to question the legitimacy of the President.
The concentration of power on national and local level in the hands of one party (VMRO-DPMNE) will make it too powerful to negotiate or compromise. It will continue to enlarge its control over other institutions: juridical system, media and the business sector. The parliament under the control of the victorious party will pass the amendments to constrain the power of the municipality mayors. Thus the mayors who don’t belong to the ruling party will have very limited power and resources. For the others, it is not important because they don’t oppose the central government.
The Albanian party in the government has its own ‘share’. It is not very satisfied because control less of the recourses and municipalities. The spending from the budget will continue to be in the favor of Macedonians. The Albanian coalition partner will continue to ask for minority veto for the budget and more generous fiscal decentralization. Even federalization if has no positive response. Ohrid Framework Agreement is nothing more than ‘redistribution of resources’. The reconciliation process is not an issue. Every side has its own interpretation of 2001 conflict, as it was, and both interpretations are conflicting. The disputes between the coalition partners often come to the point of breaking into open conflict but the weaker coalition partner does not leave the government. The disparity is compensated on one way or another, because the Macedonian ruling party doesn’t want to lose the control over the Parliament.
The fear and insecurity of the people are misused specially during the electoral campaign for gaining votes. Nationalism produces and asks for autocratic way of governing. The opposition is marginalized and it is not seen as a necessary part of the democratic process. Actually the ideal of an autocratic governance is to create obedient opposition. The present opposition doesn’t like this ‘role’. The leaders from the opposition boycott the Parliament. This polarization between parties is above normal ‘rule of the game’. The difficult and sensitive issue like the dispute with Greece about the name of the state as well as some historical misunderstanding with Bulgaria can’t be solved. The opposition refuses to sign joint declaration about the ‘name issue’ as a demand from the European Commission. The opposition will sign such declaration if the ruling party agrees about the choice of the president of so called ad hoc commission of truth (that should investigate the events of 24 December). The ruling party is not interested about that commission, except verbally in front of EU Commission. The name issue can’t be solved and the EU-NATO integration is delayed. The Albanians are not satisfied. DIU has to play more radical role and the interethnic situation in the country is tense. Macedonia is more and more isolated. The economic problems, such as unemployment, increase, as well as the corruption inside the ruling party, its coalition partner and in society in whole.
b. The worst scenario
The worst scenario is a continuation of the inertial scenario. The pragmatic leaders of the national ruling party are limited by the ideology of its party and by its own past behavior. They produced nationalism and misused the ‘burning feeling of injustice’ of the citizens. Now they are prisoners of that politics. The leaders of the party who are pragmatic nationalist are under a huge pressure of the extreme nationalists inside the party to oppose Greece and all who advocate compromise. They are not able to enter into dialogue with the opposition and to form joint coalition to solve the ‘issue of name’ with Greece and the misunderstanding with Bulgaria. The leaders of that party don’t want to be ‘national traitors’. The leader of the ruling party and the President of the Republic will not sign the compromising agreement with Greece. They began just in case of early elections to mark their ‘political territory’ among conservative, religious, nationalistic voters. In any case, they will have a solid electoral result and will stay in the parliament if not in the government. They don’t seriously mean to sign a joint declaration with the opposition about the politics of solving the flammable issue with Greece. The state is isolated and the economic problems grow. The Albanians in the government press for the solution. They promised their voters integration of Macedonia in NATO and EU. They are lead by the ideal of united Albania inside of EU, but can’t deliver. Much more radical Albanian political options replace DUI.
The ruling party refuses to agree about the president of the commission for the forceful expelling of the opposition and journalist from the Parliament. The opposition leaves the Parliament. It boycotts the new parliamentary elections. The ruling party and ‘its satellites’ overwhelmingly win the elections. The president of the party forms the government without inviting the Albanian party as a coalition partner. The ethnic division deepens. The MPs from the Albanian parties leave the Parliament. The situation in society highly radicalize. The radical Albanians declare full autonomy in Western Macedonia. This is the unexpected but desirable of the ‘exit strategy’ of the already corrupted political party in power. Macedonia is more and more isolated. Economic crises and unemployment produce social dissatisfaction, protest and strikes. Instead to head social dissatisfaction toward upper levels in society, the dissatisfaction is headed toward the ‘Muslims’(Albanians, Turks, Romas) Albania and Serbia already started negotiations with EU and will be soon members. The loyalty of the Albanians toward central government is week, if exist at all and push for full autonomy. Macedonian minority in Western Macedonia openly resist. Terrorism and chaos.
c. The best scenario
The autocratic way of government, ethno-nationalism of the ruling party as well as the poor level of democracy contributed to the very tense and conflicting relations between the ruling party and it coalition partner, the Albanian party. VMRO-DPMNE passes the Lew for Defenders against the will of DUI. The prospects of solving the name issue are far and unrealistic. DIU under the pressure of its radicals leaves the government. VMRO-DPMNE loses it majority in the Parliament. The prime-minister is giving back his mandate. A new majority forms, from the opposition party and DIU/DPA. The new coalition is more cooperative and ready to solve the ‘name issue’. The new prime minister signs the statement that will solve this issue at the end of the accession process with EU. EU/USA diplomacy work to persuade the opposition leader to agree with the compromise with Greece. Even a ‘grand coalition’ is possible solution for the beginning of a healing process’. The ‘carrot’ is quick track to EU/NATO integration. That is a new motivation and hope for the country. New credits and financial support from EU and USA. New enthusiasm in the country about integration.
The debate about proportional electoral model will continue in the direction of better proportional representation for the minorities without using PR or additional to PR. The debate about the two most important dimensions of electoral system, the electoral formula and the average district magnitude, will finish with the agreement. Instead of D’Hont formula, other more proportional formulas will be used for the allocation of the votes into parliamentary seats: pure or modified Saint-Lague, largest reminders or Imperial; or the debate will head toward the special provisions in the electoral law for ethnic minority representation: rigid non-geographical ethnic district, optional ethnic districts, predetermined ethnically mixed places and special exemptions for ethnic minorities. The multiethnic coalitions are the only acceptable subject in the electoral process. The president of the Republic will be elected on direct and general election with a higher percentage of turnouts in the second round, or he is elected by the Parliament with 2/3 of the votes of the MPs. The higher number of other minorities in the institution makes the binary division (Macedonians versus Albanians) softer. The politicians from different ethnic parties are more moderate, and more inclined to negotiation and compromise. The trust between them will increase as well in society. More care and anti-discriminatory policies towards the minorities. Decentralization is followed by a greater fiscal decentralization which contributes to the faster economic development of the municipalities. Macedonians leadership apologizes to the Albanians for the negligence and discrimination. The leadership of the Albanians apologizes for the suffering caused by the conflict of 2001. Common projects which foster the multiethnic character in society, such as integrated education, and so on.
In his autobiography, ‘Macedonia is all we have’, the President Gligorov is mentioning this fact (Gligorov 2000: 221)
For ex. the ‘work’ of these political tendencies produced in Poland, pure form of PR (proportional representation) and semi-presidential system of government; in Czechoslovakia, the result of negotiations between communist as ‘old forces’ and new democratic forces was moderate proportional representation (PR) and moderate parliamentary system., while in Hungary, the reformed communists and the opposition agreed about moderate majoritarian system and parliamentarian.
The researchers from the Institute of Sociological and Political Research, N. Gaber and A. Jovevska, even simulated eventual implementation of proportional electoral system on the basis of the result of previous local elections and publish their prediction in Forum No.1, 1998. They present the results: in every of the proportional model as D’Hont, Imperial or Hare, the ruling party SDSM will have the largest number of MP’s seats (35 out of 120); VMRO-DPMNE will win 26 out of 120; Liberal Democratic party-22 and Albanian party PDP, will have 10 out of 120.
The list of its demands was: constitutional guaranties of the collective rights; the right of university education in Albanian language; historical and national contents in the schoolbooks; the official use of the Albanian language and letter; adequate representation of Albanians in the state structures (administration, police and army); the right of use of national and religious symbols and celebration of important days; solving of the interethnic problems with the use of consensus and the definition of the state as a common state of the Macedonian, Albanians and Turks.
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As a beginner scholar, I was sent to do a research in Gostivar, Western Macedonia. Every day, for several months, I was traveling from Skopje to Gostivar and back. I remember well the day when an old and dirty bus was slowly bumping toward the city of Tetovo. It was almost summer and inside the bus the dense air was sticking of sweat and tallow which the Albanians from this area traditionally use for cooking. Suddenly, the driver stopped the bus and threateningly turned toward us, the passengers: “Who is stinking here?” he shouted. There was a silence. Then, he got up, approaching an old Albanian, grabbed his shoulders and threw him outside in the middle of nowhere. I was sitting behind him and did not react on time…
From a personal point of view, this essay is an attempt to ‘pay my moral debt’. I have tried to be more critical toward Macedonians who are the majority in Macedonia and an ethnic group to which I myself belong, whereas to show more understanding and sympathy toward the Albanians. (Maleska 1997,131).
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“The 24 March 2013 municipal elections were efficiently administered and highly competitive. Although the campaign was active, partisan media coverage and a blurring of state and party activities did not always provide a level playing field for candidates to contest the elections. Interethnic tensions overshadowed the campaign. Election day was calm, although some procedural irregularities were observed… The State Electoral Commission voted along ethnic lines to allow the withdrawal of candidate lists, negatively impacting its impartiality and collegiality. Allegations of voter intimidation and misuse of state resources persisted throughout the campaign. The OSCE/ODIHR EOM observed several cases of campaign materials displayed on state property as well as government officials attending campaign events during working hours and using government vehicles. The blurring of the line between state activities and party campaigning is inconsistent with paragraph 5.4 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document. The number of complaints filed with the courts was minimal and many stakeholders told the OSCE/ODIHR EOM that they lacked confidence in the complaints procedures and the courts. The SEC did not act on over 400 complaints related to early campaigning received before election day”.
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