Early pre election campaign associated with strong nationalist tones

Early pre election campaign associated with strong nationalist tones

Skopje, March 12, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Naser Pajaziti

In the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, political parties have started to launch declarations and messages associated with nationalist tones even before the official kick off of the electoral campaign. This is being done by the two parties of the current governing coalition, VMRO-DPMNE of prime minister Nikola Gruevski and Albanian party Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) of Ali Ahmeti.

In the recent hours, the leaders of these parties have issued declarations containing nationalist tones. Gruevski declared that Albanian parties exaggerate it with demands that relate to their national cause and do not focus on the economic aspect. He also called on Macedonians to massively vote in order to produce 62 seats in parliament, as this would not make Albanian parties necessary in the formation of the next government.

But, tones of this nature have also been expressed by Ali Ahmeti, who said that Albanians will never accept a president elected without their votes and that in the future, Albanians will demand to hold one of the highest state posts. Ahmeti also demanded for the Albanian language to be made official in all of the country and other demands in the ethnic aspect.

Analysts say that these messages and declarations have an impact in deepening ethnic division. Nevertheless, the card of strong nationalist tones is seen as a campaign prepared by parties in advance in order to win the elections, thus veering from economic and social problems in the country.

Analyst Zravko Saveski says that the two parties play with the nationalist card, but there’s an impression according to which they are doing this game based on a preliminary agreement, like it happened with the dissolution of parliament and announcement of early elections.

“They’re doing this in order to increase audience among the population and veer the attention from social problems. It’s clear that here we have to do with a well prepared nationalist agenda for these elections”, says Savevski. According to him, it has also been seen in past elections that these two parties use the same tones, but at the end, they come to a so called “magic” agreement.

Speaking for IBNA, analyst and columnist, Emin Azemi, says that here we have to deal with Macedonian nationalism and national issues of Albanians, articulated even in these elections. He criticizes the classification that Gruevski does to Ahmeti’s request and his public appeal to have a parliamentary majority without Albanians.

“Macedonian mentality still suffers from the mentality of the past. Why does this happen? Because we’re seeing that when an Albanian politician openly objects to the election of the president without cross ethnic and cross party consensus, this automatically qualifies as nationalism. Where’s nationality on this request?! This Macedonian politician, who has a very big political and institutional responsibility, openly demands to avoid Albanians in forming a parliamentary majority. In this case, all the norms of political discourse are exceeded and a sort of ethnic monopoly is demanded by excluding all of those who are not Macedonian”, says Azemi.

He claims that there are a number of other examples, “but this is the best one to show the tendency to tolerate ethnic Macedonian nationalism and the penalization of the normal demands issued by Albanians”.

Journalist Miki Trakjkovski, who spoke to IBNA, has another description of this pre electoral situation.

“I think that time has come for the ordinary citizen in Macedonia not to fall a victim of political parties who through the ethnic dimension, aim to veer the attention from the true problems that the country is facing, in the economic and social aspect. We’re all clear now that when elections approach, the same scenario is repeated. This time, this will not have an impact on voters, especially on those who have not yet decided who to vote for. I would take Struga as an example, where ahead of every local or parliamentary election, there have been cases of cross ethnic violence between Albanian and Macedonian students. Public opinion speculated by saying that political parties were behind these incidents and protests, as they could not be organized by children. Such thing no longer happens now”, says journalist Miki Trajkovski for IBNA. He suggests for citizens to be skeptic about the offers or messages issued by political parties.

Citizens also object the fact that political parties avoid their main problems. Imran K, a worker, told IBNA that parties must focus on the main problems that exist in the country and not play with the feelings of the citizens.

“We have a serious economic and social situation, with high rates of unemployment, while political parties are mocking the people. They have started to hold campaigns associated with nationalist tones. We want work and development and not problems that can lead to conflicts and crisis”, says the citizen from Skopje.

He suggests for parties to resolve their differences and problems in the ethnic aspect away from the attention of the citizens.

The early parliamentary election campaign in FYR Macedonia will start on April 5, while the campaign for the presidential elections will start on March 24. /ibna/