Post-referendum politics of ignoring facts

Post-referendum politics of ignoring facts
Ilo Trajkovski
Political analyst

The referendum has passed! Long live the referendum! In the case of our referendum, it’s as if the principle to which all conflicting societies or groups persist is somehow denied. According to this principle, the profit and joy of one is the loss and grief of the other. Although we are undoubtedly such a society, it seems that the results of the referendum made everyone happy – the government, the opposition, but also those “others”! They all interpret the results as a confirmation of their policies regarding the agreement with Greece and, in this regard, the EU and NATO membership. I wonder how the same facts can cause joy among many, who are actually angry opponents?I find the answer to this question in the definition of politics given by the American historian and journalist Henry Adams from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. According to him, practical politics consists in ignoring facts. This means ignoring reality. In order to justify themselves and their people, our leading politicians resort not only to ignoring facts but also to their twisting – black turned into white and white into black.

Which facts are being ignored, or are politicized by our political elites? First, two numerical realities are ignored. The first is the number of citizens who did not come out to vote, about 1,140,000 or about 63 percent, and the second is the number of citizens who did vote, about 666,000, and they voted ‘FOR’. The opposition celebrates the first figure and ignores the second, and the government heightens the importance of the number of voters who supported the government policy, and ignores the importance of the number of those who did not come out to vote – because of boycotts, or lack of interest. Both of them would benefit from each of these numbers, but taken individually. And neither one has any meaning separately!

The opposition emphasizes the fact that the number of those who abstained is almost two times the number of those who used their right to vote. In doing so, the opposition ignores the fact that is clear even to beginners in the political analysis that no more than a third (about 400,000) of the non-voters are built under the banner of VMRO-DPMNE. The second third is recruited mainly by the indefinite, the smaller ethical communities and the apathetic, and the third is mainly made of emigrants. The government, meanwhile, points out that the citizens who wanted to vote could do it without hindrance and that in the democracy those who voted are the ones who decide. And that is that!

Opposition logic is formally legal: the constitution prescribes a census of at least 50 per cent turnout for a successful referendum. In this specific case, because the turnout was about 37 percent, it means that the referendum is unsuccessful and that there is no decision on the referendum question. Conversely, for the government and its spokespersons, the referendum was successful and the decision was made because the vast majority (over 91%) of those who went to the polls supported its policy.

Both sides, apart from ignoring the facts that do not support their interests, ignore the real reason that generates the mentioned problematic numbers – the knowledge that the problems with the voter list and the prescribed referendum turnout were known at the time of announcing the referendum, and even before it was announced. The applicability and importance of the aforementioned Adams’ definition of politics should be sought here. Both of these problems with the voter lists and regulations have long been identified as manipulative. They saw, and still see a favorable opportunity for manipulation in favor of their own party. In the same way, the long-established problems with the justice system and the manner of functioning of the public administration and the public sector as a whole are treated. The problems are known, but are ignored because they as such are suitable covers for hiding their own weaknesses and the utilization of public resources. The price for this is always paid by the nation, with increasing and greater frustration due to the absence of a real change for the better.

Fifteen months have passed since the current government assumed the nominal control over the country and public institutions in general. But it did not do much to move things in the direction of Europeanization of everyday functioning. On the contrary. Many examples show that the government too easily reached for the tricks abused by the previous corrupt and insurmountable authority. For example, forcing the constitutional and legal problematic procedure regarding the signing and ratification of the agreement with Greece and related secret diplomacy, the formulation of three questions in one referendum question, or the last example of a sudden increase in turnout in some polling stations, and the like. But what goes around comes back around.

As a consequence, a day or two after the referendum, the country entered a new political crisis with announcements of its deepening. The opposition leader does not cease to be courted by the most radical Macedonian ethno-nationalist circles who openly and without consequences threaten citizens and lawmakers. On the other hand, none of the scenarios announced by the Prime Minister will go without repeating the already known criminal, corrupt and clientele schemes and arrangements. The first desired scenario, which involves the transfer of the fate of an agreement with Greece to Parliament, can only be achieved by blackmailing and bribing susceptible MPs. A good instruction on how such operations are carried out for securing parliamentary support from the opposing camp is in the testimony of Ljubco Georgievski as a former prime minister. The second scenario by scheduling early parliamentary elections was best developed by Nikola Gruevski. With the existing voter list and the referendum-affirmed forces, the early election would be a repeat of the results of the last parliamentary elections, if not strengthening the positions of the ethnic-nationalist forces.

After the referendum, the Macedonian nation is divided into two as never before. Therefore, the belligerent calls to the so-called “Progressive Macedonia”, as it is called by one, or “Euro Macedonia” according to another, to politically shake the so-called retrograde Macedonia or Macedonia to that “ignorant, weak and imperfect person (member of VMRO-DPMNE)” are nothing but political ignorance of the fact that the forces are fairly equal. In such a situation, the only reasonable policy is opening our eyes and returning the left step forward the right and then leap forward with both feet. Because without consensus, a sustainable solution to our key national problem is impossible.

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