Last or missed chance

Last or missed chance

Petar Arsovski

Forecasts and predictions that the referendum in support of Euro-Atlantic integrations and the agreement with Greece will mark the end of the political crisis in Macedonia proved to be inaccurate. Despite the relatively massive support for this process expressed in the referendum, the results and the situation that will unfold after, are likely to only deepen the political crisis that has been growing for a long time, and will intensify the already vast division in Macedonian society. Now, having in mind that the results are interpreted as everyone prefers, the pressure will move to the Assembly, where the consensus, having in mind the hidden positions of the two leaders, if at all possible, will have to come from the outside. If such is not achieved in the shortest time (considering the deadlines we face in Greece), whether we like it or not, we will have to hold to new early parliamentary elections. So, all in all, gambit to gambit, with a completely uncertain end.

At first glance, the results of the referendum are double – both the ‘For’ vote won, and the boycott was relatively successful. The perverse thesis of VMRO-DPMNE, and of those who were blindly seeing the referendum only as a legal-statistical operation, is that when a referendum would reach the census, it would be a real perception of the will of the people, and thus would oblige the VMRO-DPMNE to vote on the agreement in the Assembly. So, according to that logic, if in the referendum (in spite of the 600 thousand votes “for”) instead of the 40 thousand votes “against”, there were 400 thousand votes “against”, to VMRO-DPMNE it would have been a bigger obligation to vote “for “In the Assembly? Let me explain this thesis: if 10 times more people voted against the agreement in the referendum, it would mean a message to them that it should be adopted?!

Therefore, the referendum should first be seen as a political operation. It is a way to check the will of voters and political parties, whose final commitment is whether they will ratify this project in the Parliament. Hence, regardless of the results, formally, the point now is that the parties have to make an assessment whether the majority is for this agreement, or against it. I am sure that when Hristijan Mickoski calculates whether to go to early elections, the calculations he makes are not those with the imaginary 1.2 million people that he publicly chants are ‘against’, but with those real 500,000 missing in the equation for which he secretly calculates how to divide.

Now, the two leaders with their mathematics rushed to draw their positions. Zaev says – either MPs or new elections, hoping that big support would turn into 2/3 votes in the Assembly. Mickoski publicly told his MPs not to vote for the agreement and announced that his support was out of the question. But I don’t think that the elections are a done deal for Zaev, nor the homogeneity of Mickoski’s deputies is what he represents it to be. Zaev, although he can count on the same or slightly better result in the election (due to the larger adrenaline in the party headquarters), still has a very thin majority of up to 80 MPs. Additionally, that process would take away the time that we simply do not currently have. Thirdly, the international community explicitly states that plan A is for them to provide support for the agreement in the current composition of the Assembly. Fourthly, the poor performance of DUI in elections, because of which it is opposed to early elections, would only complicate the situation. On the other hand, Mickoski calls the MPs a little too publicly, if he is so sure of their loyalty. I think that the focus will now be precisely on them and their historic responsibility whether the blind loyalty to Mickoski would be traded for the future of the country, with the whole pressure from the international community.

There are several irreconcilable political consequences from which the MPs, but also the opponents of the agreement, cannot escape, and who will worsen the forthcoming period and their positions in the medium term. The first is that, however, the results of the referendum show that the majority of citizens support this project for quick integration through an agreement with Greece. The opposition to that will, the longer it takes, the more it will cost, in a political sense. Secondly, the thesis that the EU and NATO can be separated from the agreement with Greece has completely collapsed, making it clear to most citizens that the one who blocks the agreement actually simultaneously blocks both the EU and NATO. Thus, we come to the third consequence – Mickoski and his deputies may be able to prevent NATO membership and start of Macedonia’s EU negotiations by sabotaging the agreement with Greece, but then they, and only they, will be the only culprits for all negative consequences in the decades of swamp that will follow after this missed chance. Hence the message of the German CDU to VMRO-DPMNE was – vote in the Assembly, or you will be the ones to blame.

In the end, there is a possibility that the parliamentary gambit and the election gambit will both fail. Perhaps we all need to face the possibility that Macedonia, its political elites and electorate, are simply not ready for the EU and NATO. That, despite all efforts, this project will simply not succeed, and we will miss this chance. Next, if there is another chance (NATO and the EU say it is highly unlikely), will come after one or more decades. But maybe citizens are ready to wait, they could be satisfied with the current situation and do not want changes. However, if opponents of the agreement, regardless of whether they call themselves abstainers, boycotters, insist on termination of the Euro-Atlantic integrations, then they should be ready to not ask us for the next steps, but to properly address to Janko Bacev. Because we are fresh out of ideas./IBNA

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik