LIFE GOES ON
Written by: Aleksandar Krzalovski
New Year and Christmas holidays are over and life goes on!
With us, with a stormy week – the final of the procedure for constitutional changes, expected to finish by the end of the week. These amendments are expected to be passed with the required (two-thirds) majority of at least 80 MPs. This is also due to the experience from the beginning of the process, that is, the session on October 19, when the vote was postponed until the ruling majority was sure that it had secured 80 votes “for”. It will probably be like that again – there will be no vote, until it is certain that it will have the necessary number of MPs to press the green button! This time it will be a little more complicated, since for each of the amendments (for now, 4) it is necessary to vote separately.
However, Prime Minister Zaev said he could count on 76 certain votes for the time being, and this was before his meeting with Besa (that is with Bilal Kasami), as well as before the meeting with the Alliance for Albanians (Ziyadin Sela). According to this, it could be assumed that the unconfirmed votes are “hiding” here, on the other hand, they count on the support of the eight (seven of them already former) MPs from the VMRO-DPMNE coalition who voted “for” on October 19. This is backed up by the “strange end” of the parliamentary year, with the adoption of the Law on amnesty and a quick-sweeping process for its implementation (at least the EU cannot continue with the most constant criticism “your laws are good, but their implementation is not”, and in its next report on Macedonia in April it may praise us how fast and well we implemented this law). This made it clear why those eight and exactly eight voted so then…and why they would again vote “for” constitutional changes this week. It became clear what the price was for these votes, or, apparently, how some have imagined the reconciliation. Or, as before, I sarcastically commented: while during the referendum campaign some of the Prespa agreement supporters said “if you are not for the agreement, you are not for the EU and NATO”, so now it will be reduced to the phrase “if you are not for an amnesty, you are not for the EU and NATO”.
Joking apart, this with the amnesty, after the referendum, is already the second bitter pill that our society (should) swallow. And if the figures are clear for the referendum – only about 33.7% of the voters (according to the voter list) or just under 30% of all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia gave support to the Prespa agreement, it is unclear how much the support has decreased after the amnesty. According to the MCIC poll from the beginning of December, even 67% (or exactly 2/3) of the respondents were against any amnesty. Among them, over 80% of supporters of SDSM and ethnic Albanians. Can we, according to the simple mathematics of such data, conclude that the real support for the Prespa agreement is now below 10% (1/3 of those who supported the referendum agreement)? Perhaps not, but probably this estimate is not far from the real situation among the citizens. And while the whole “struggle” for implementing the agreement is reduced to this week and the collection of 2/3 (i.e. 67%, or 80) of all 120 MPs, it seems that the desired and real support is increasingly moving away. Unfortunately, it will sooner or later manifest itself.
But the question is whether the two so far bitter pills will be enough, or the “therapy” will continue with further concessions, compromises and agreements (secret or as everything in this country – not so secret). This time, in terms of the requests made by Besa (and possibly some additional ones from the Alliance), among other things, to delete the “Macedonian” benchmark from the description of citizenship (in passports and other relevant documents), according to some interpretations of these requirements – only for the ethnic Albanians, and according to others – among all citizens. Hopefully we will not have the situation “the therapy is successful, the patient is dead”.
But not to say “joking apart” again, when it turns into “black humor”, let’s see what the options for the week ahead are:
- The government to accept the requirements of Besa/Alliance, thus getting their votes, but risks losing others (especially from those eight of the opposition who have already stated that these requests are contrary to their commitments and already submitted/harmonized amendments);
- The government to turn down these requests (risking those votes), but:
- Besa/Alliance still vote on constitutional changes (due to the logic hoped by the Government – that this is the most important thing for NATO membership, so no one of the ethnic Albanians in the Parliament should be allowed to vote “for” (and perhaps in return, receive other “benefits” for those votes);
- The government provides additional support from MPs from the opposition VMRO-DPMNE.
Certainly there are other options and inter-solutions, and as good practices or rules of mediation/negotiation advise – at least seven options must be considered before the situation is resolved.
However, the outcome will be known very soon – maybe even today, and according to all announcements, certainly by the end of this week, with the final vote on constitutional changes. Whether with another bitter pill or not, whatever, I suppose the Prespa agreement will be pushed out and all the obligations of Macedonia will be completed.
Who knows, maybe it will be good…that is the purpose of all this, isn’t it?
Life will certainly go on and it will not be very different to us with or without it.
Good luck this week and the year ahead!
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