Parliamentary election 2016: Macedonia moving away from snap election
The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyzes events in the Middle East and the Balkans. On the occasion of scheduled snap parliamentary election in the Republic of Macedonia on 24 April 2016, IFIMES prepared an analysis of the current political situation in Macedonia. The highlights from the analysis “Macedonia moving away from snap election” are given below.
Parliamentary election 2016:
Macedonia moving away from snap election
The snap parliamentary election in Macedonia is scheduled for April 24, 2016. The election is the result of the Pržina agreement from June 2015, when the country’s four major parties - Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM), the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) - agreed that the political crisis caused by illegal tapping of more than 20,000 citizens should be overcome by holding snap parliamentary election.
In order to implement democratic, fair and free election several requirements should be met. A key prerequisite would be to revise the electoral directory and to ensure democratic control of the media, without which no democratic, fair and free elections can be had. The problem with the electoral directory has been present since the inception of the juvenile Macedonian democracy, allowing numerous manipulations during the electoral process thus affecting election results. In fact, during the ten-year rule of VMRO-DPMNE the results of all previous elections are questionable. Nikola Gruevski, the now former prime minister of Macedonia and current president of VMRO-DPNE, and his regime have absolute control over certain media and the media sphere as a whole. Media freedom (rather the lack of it) in Macedonia has been a sore point in reports on Macedonia by various international organizations. In such an artificial and biased ambience only VMRO-DPMNE can win the election.
The characteristics of Gruevski’s regime that has been in power since 2006 are self-imposed isolation, nepotism, impoverishment, unemployment, devastation and control in almost all segments of society, lack of transparency, corruption, non-existent multi-party system, and a "special" role of the Administration for Security and Counterintelligence (UBK), which has until recently been led by Sašo Mijalkov, Nikola Gruevski’s cousin,.
THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF MACEDONIA?
The future of the Republic of Macedonia has never been so uncertain, even in the most difficult period of dissolution of former Yugoslavia when war was raging throughout the region. It is amazing that Gruevski’s regime has managed to bring into question the very existence of Macedonia after 25 years of the country’s independence. How did it come to that?
Since it came to power in 2006, VMRO-DPMNE and Nikola Gruevski have not managed to bring Macedonia to economic progress and to build upon the EU candidate status obtained in 2005. Moreover, not only that there is no progress, but there is visible lagging behind other countries in the region. If in 2005, Macedonia and Croatia were the locomotive pulling the region towards the EU and NATO, while today Macedonia is among the last rail-cars in the process of integrating the Western Balkans into the EU and NATO.
GRUEVSKI 'S FALSE NATIONALISM
Nationalism, which began to intensify in Macedonian society after NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008 when Greece put a veto, and was further aggravated with the launch of intensive implementation of the unnecessary megalomaniac (in the opinion of the professional community) project "Skopje 2014", was the introduction to the disruption of fragile inter-ethnic relations in Macedonia.
In 2008, after the Greek veto at the NATO summit in Bucharest, IFIMES criticised the behaviour of Greece, which did not behave and act neither in a European spirit nor in the spirit of future regional cooperation. Until today IFIMES has not changed its position on this issue regarding the policy of Greece towards Macedonia. But the question is whether Greece is the only party to be blamed, as the nationalism that has spread through the Macedonian society (in the wake of the Bucharest summit) under the leadership of Nikola Gruevski has further jeopardized the European future of Macedonia. Combined with severe economic crisis and the depleted budget bled by the wasting of resources for the construction of "Skopje 2014" and borrowing from European banks with high interest rates, the future of Macedonia looks rather glum and uncertain. This is confirmed by the materials gathered through illegal wiretapping, exposing Gruevski's requirements towards Greece should Macedonia agree to change its name. Macedonia is no longer capable of borrowing money abroad, or can only do so under very unfavourable conditions, as it has become a country of extremely high credit risk. Because of this the regime in Skopje is "pressing" domestic and foreign-owned companies to buy Macedonian bonds, thus temporarily postponing the country's inevitable bankruptcy.
There is an agreement between the regime and foreign owners of key companies in Macedonia about the level of profit which their companies have agreed to pay (through tax on profit) to the state budget, thus providing relatively stable budget revenues in order to enable the existing regime to remain in power.
AHMETI AND THAÇI HOSTAGES TO THE GRUEVSKI&MIJALKOV DUO
This year marks the 15th anniversary of signing the Ohrid Ramkovno agreement, which ended the six-month conflict in 2001. However, there is an impression that the conflict has never truly ended, or in other words, that peace has never been reached, as the slightest crisis in the results in an inter-ethnic issue and re-stirring of ethnic tensions.
Gruevski's regime is once again trying to further undermine inter-ethnic relations as it needs to mobilize the electorate. Thanks to VMRO-DPMNE and their loyal Albanian political parties DUI and DPA led by Ali Ahmeti and Menduh Thaci, Macedonian society increasingly resembles a broken structure, parts of which are glued together but may fall apart upon a slight earthquake.
Almost 3,000 persons were employed in the public sector in order to implement the Ramkovno agreement, but the results of this implementation are very modest. Most of the employed owe their employment to kinship / party connections.
Wiretapping has revealed that both Albanian leaders Ahmeti and Thaci are actually loyal to the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo and not to the Albanian people as they have been trying to present themselves. This is also evident from the practical realities of Macedonian contemporary politics, as none of them dare boycott the upcoming election that is intensively directed by MRO-DPMNE. Menduh Thaci has proven to be a tool of the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo and not a true representative of the opposition. Albanians in Macedonia have been left without true political representatives, so they will have to find and identify new ones in one of the multi-ethnic parties in Macedonian political scene.
HIRING A € 500 MILLION LOAN TO „BUY“ THE ELECTION WAS PREVENTED
The current regime in Macedonia is trying to remain in power in any possible way. Thus in the past few months it attempted to hire another loan for the sum of EUR 500 million, which was partly to be used to "buy" the upcoming election. VMRO-DPMNE is aware that the election defeat would mean judicial prosecution of their members who are visibly associated with crime and corruption. Dismantling of the regime is an inevitable process. Macedonia is facing a long and difficult process of de-Gruevisation of the state, similar to what was done in Croatia through the process of de-Sanaderisation of the state, which means Gruevski's withdrawal from public life and his judicial prosecution.
POSTPONING THE ELECTION UNTIL AUTUMN 2016?
Based on an analysis of the current situation in Macedonia, especially regarding the preparation and holding of snap election scheduled for April 24, 2016, analysts have warned that the basic conditions for conducting free, fair and democratic election have still not been met. We are looking at an unfair match between unequal political actors, as the key processes are predominantly managed and directed by VMRO-DPMNE and the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo together with their subservient Albanian leaders Ahmeti and Thaci. The revision of the electoral lists is obstructed since the current state of affairs enables electoral manipulation. Regulation of the media is a prerequisite in order to enable all participants in the electoral process to have approximately the same amount of media attention for their political parties and programs. The fact is that almost all media are directly or indirectly controlled by the current regime. Although officially Macedonia is presented as having about 2.1 million inhabitants, its population is actually estimated at about 1.6 million. It is also estimated that in the next two years around 100,000 Macedonian citizens will immigrate to West European countries.
The IFIMES International Institute stresses that if there is no possibility to prepare and ensure the conditions for free, democratic and fair election in Macedonia in line with European electoral standards, it would be necessary to consider the prolongation of the date of snap election until the conditions are met for their proper implementation. In this regard the Albanian leaders Ahmeti and Thaci are faced with tough challenges, as they must prove that they are true opposition leaders and not merely puppets of the Gruevski-Mijalkov duo. Should the prolongation of the election date not be achieved, a boycott of the election by the opposition should be considered in order to internationalize the events in Macedonia and enable the country to reach a broader consensus on its future. Due to the complex and troubling situation in Macedonia a more active engagement of the EU and the US is required, as further destabilization of Macedonia could threaten the already fragile peace and stability in the region.If things continue as they are Macedonia is increasingly moving away from holding free, fair and democratic snap election.Ljubljana,
February 6, 2016