By Naser Pajaziti
Participation of Albanian parties in FYRO Macedonia in these local elections did not prove to be an exception to the rule: once again, they appeared divided and made use of negative labeling of opponents and fueled further political contradiction.
Despite this, the Albanian voter this time has been more indifferent to the tough campaigning atmosphere being fully aware of where it wanted its vote to go.
The pinnacle of this mosaic of tangled schemes and calculations was the victory of an Albanian candidate in the Kërçovë commune, after 70 years.
Fatmir Dehari’s victory in Kërçovë, through unification of the Albanian vote and the mobilization of the Diaspora was a series blow to the governing Macedonian party of Nikolla Gruevski VMRO-DPMNE.
The loss in Kërçovë was traumatic to and resulted in serious costs for Gruevski, who, during his visit to the commune the day after the elections, unexpectedly found himself at the focus of Macedonian people’s rage who could not come to terms with the new reality and had to spend several hours in the party’s local headquarters.
Macedonian nationalism encouraged by Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE was enough motivation and encouragement for Albanians to go out and vote on March 23.
Even this time, Albanians were mobilized against the coherent Macedonian nationalism developed under the aegis of Macedonian institutions.
It would be delusional to claim that the motivation of the Albanians’ massive turnout in these elections were the platforms or the offers made by the Albanian parties.
This is especially true if one considers that due to the battle of “gladiators” such as BDI and PDSH, support for a promising alternative party, RDK, was inexistent.
Albanian voters in these elections split along the two major courts, BDI and PDSH.
On the other camp, the Macedonian political parties, VMRO-DPMNE managed to challenge the united Macedonian opposition. Gruevski’s victory was a message for the Macedonian opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski that he should retire from the political scene. March 24 was in a way fatal for the Macedonian opposition because it did not achieve the result it expected, not even a slight margin victory over Gruevksi.
The failed mathematics of the Macedonian opposition, in particular a failure that mainly lies with the Macedonian Social Democrat League (LSDM) raises challenges for the future of this party and its leadership. The Macedonian opposition failed in all of the potential calculations, considering the statement that after the March 24 local elections the country should go to early parliamentary elections, if the opposition won, even just by one vote over Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE.
March 24 is now an uphill battle for the opposition, both Macedonian and Albanian. The Albanian opposition parties too failed to win over Ahmeti. PDSH, well-known for its political acrobatics and justifications, claimed once again, although it lost 2 to 1 to Ali Ahmeti, that the March 24 elections marked a victory because its vote base grew.
Menduh Thaçi, with his comments made the evening of March 24, made it clear that he is not planning on giving up the party chairmanship and that he will keep up his epic battle against Ali Ahmeti. Thaçi takes great pride in his candidate Ziadin Sela victory in the first round of voting in Strugë over BDI’s Arben Labënishti.
Thaçi hopes that in the April 7 runoff his candidates will mark remarkable victories in Tetovo, which the BDI candidate has lost by a huge margin, 4,000 votes, and in the communes of Dollnen, Bërvenicë, Studeniçan, Tearcë, where the race against Ahmeti’s party candidates is very tight.
The ever-present Albanian parties’ differences led to the Albanians losing seats in the communal councils where Albanians are a minority. There is not a single Albanian representative in the communal councils of Manastir, Velesi, Krusheva and some other communes.
The role and influence of the Albanian political specter has also weakened in several other communes such as in the City of Skopje, Kumanovë, Gazi Babë, Zelenikovë, Sopishtë, Mavrovë, Rostushë, Qendër, Zhupë, etc.
The inter-Albanian battle of April 7 will be played out Tetovë and Gostivar, but also other rural communes where Ahmeti and Thaçi have engaged their entire political arsenal to win over each-other.
Their greatest challenge in these elections is the RDK leader Rufi Osmani who is running in the commune of Gostivar.
* Journalist, columnist, Skopje