The new government of North Macedonia received just 10 days “grace period” from the opposition, instead of the expected 100 days of political truce.
It seems that VMRO-DPMNE does not intend to be a constructive opposition this time, as both Igor Janushev threatened the new government with political hell and Alexandar Nikoloski announced mass protests that will begin this month, as he noted during the program statements of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the National Assembly.
VMRO-DPMNE chose today as the first day of protests, the day after the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the country’s independence. Thus, the new governing coalition SDSM and DUI, elected on August 31, received only 10 days of “grace period” from the opposition, instead of the expected 100 days of political truce, after eight months of rule by the caretaker government of Oliver Spasovski.
The continuation of the coalition of SDSM and DUI is one of the arguments used by the opposition for the idea to take to the streets immediately after the establishment of the new institutions of legislative and executive power in the country after the July 15 general election.
The first of a series of protests announced by VMRO-DPMNE will be over the hike in electricity prices, a decision taken by the Energy Regulatory Commission in late July, in the run-up to the start of composition talks of the new government. Since then, political protests have taken place in several cities across the country, and VMRO-DPMNE will now try to join the urban discontent due to the 7.4% increase in electricity prices.
The second argument of VMRO-DPMNE for immediate street protests is that in other countries in the region in recent months dissatisfaction with the anti-democratic restrictions of local authorities has brought major mobilization. However, this argument is not strong enough if, for example, we take into account that in Montenegro, in fact, there are conflicts between supporters of the current opposition and the current ruling party that has been in power for more than three decades (something similar to the events in North Macedonia in the period after the 2016 elections, when VMRO-DPMNE did not give power) or that in Bulgaria among the main supporters of the protests against Boyko Borissov’s government is President Rumen Radev, who relies on the BSP opposition.
In any case, the protests announced by the VMRO-DPMNE leadership are legitimate, as assessed by Zaev, although, on the other hand, it can be argued how politically correct it is to take to the streets during this period. Even if we bypass the fact that the old-new government is just starting, it can be pointed out that it is a very inappropriate moment, as the protests start at a time when all the political forces of the country are expected to focus on waiting for the start of the accession negotiations of Noth Macedonia in the EU by the end of the year, with the holding of the first intergovernmental conference with the Union during the German presidency.
Mickoski, in his speech yesterday on the occasion of Independence Day, said that 29 years later we are talking about the same goals as when the country was created, while canceling the fact that North Macedonia celebrates the anniversary of independence as a member of NATO and as state for the first time before the start of negotiations with the EU.
Zaev, on the other hand, at the central celebration event again called on the opposition to set aside the narrow mindedness as he said, and show institutional behaviour.
However, judging by the protest announced this afternoon, Mickoski probably does not intend to listen to his main political opponent at the moment. On the contrary, several measures taken by the opposition during this period show that they are closer to radicalization than to demonstrating constructive cooperation with the ruling parties.
Although he won fewer votes and two seats less than the SDSM, Mickoski does not intend to listen to the disgruntled VMRO-DPMNE members who demand an extraordinary congress as a vote of confidence in the party’s defeated leadership. Instead of holding a congress in front of the delegates, Mickoski decided to take to the streets and start the fight against the old-new coalition government of SDSM and DUI outside the institutions. In this sense, today’s protest will be the first test of the dynamism of the opposition mobilizations in the immediate aftermath of the new electoral defeat the current party leadership has suffered, which has brought new intra-party disputes./ibna