Party “gymnastics” and October expectations
By Bardhyl ZAIMI
Political time is measured by the vision of the actors in public life and the decisions that are made to serve the expectations of the electorate. Political time is neither self-centered conviction nor propaganda of the moment to satisfy the adherents of various camps in endless battles to show the ideological muscle. Political time remains a vector of affirmations to keep pace with the aspirations of the majority of citizens already projected as a path to the EU.
Political time is neither self-centered conviction nor propaganda of the moment to satisfy the adherents of various camps in endless battles to show the ideological muscle. Political time remains a vector of affirmations to keep pace with the aspirations of the majority of citizens already projected as a path to the EU.
North Macedonia is before a very delicate political moment in October. This month is likely to also determine the internal political developments, which are already taking place through strong confrontation between the government and the opposition. Despite the fact that senior European officials have expressed optimism about the start of accession negotiations in October, this date still remains largely questionable.
The “Racket” case further complicates the opening of negotiations, while senior state officials, such as the country’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, and the foreign minister, Dimitrov, called for greater sensibilization during this period to convince the international factor of the need to open negotiations for North Macedonia at some point in October.
Almost all statements by international officials involved in the Western Balkans’ EU integration process have given signals that North Macedonia could be given a start date for negotiations in October. It is likely that the start date of the negotiations will depend more on the mood of European countries than on internal political dynamics, which have not changed significantly from the previous period; to be coordinated in order to enhance the ability to get a date.
The fate of the Special Prosecutor’s Office remains a hot topic that quarreled VMRO-DPMNE as the largest opposition party and SDSM as the leader of the government along with the parties of the Albanian political bloc, which remain not very exposed to this topic. The law on public prosecution remains problematic, and it is precisely this law that should ensure the status and continuity of the SPO, which as a judicial institution is strongly supported by international representatives.
Amid these political clashes over the Racket affair, regarding the Public Prosecutor’s Law and other topics related to the daily lives of citizens, there were also “invitations” to early elections, which the opposition seeks at every speech. Both political parties are pushing for victory in the eventual election. An internal poll conducted by SDSM highlighted the ruling parties as the winners, while VMRO-DPMNE opposition leader Hristijan Mickovski said his party would have over 100,000 votes if early elections were held.
Although political parties have been talking about their dominance all the time, there will probably be no early elections. This has been repeated by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who has reiterated that there is no need for early elections because they would hinder the EU integration process, which remains one of the government’s priorities. Nothing is certain in North Macedonia. If we try to read the latest budget rebalance, which is largely geared to pay rises and other areas where it directly affects citizens’ sensitivity, no one can bet there will be no early elections.
However, by October, when a response is expected for Macedonia to start negotiations, it is unlikely that early elections will be considered. The subject of early elections looks more like party inertia and an attempt by political parties to retain the traditional electorate, but also to focus on other constituencies that are believed to bring them victory.
Macedonia’s chances of launching negotiations in October are high, especially after recent statements by European officials and in particular by French President Emmanuel Macron. He told French diplomats to work harder to reintegrate the Western Balkans into European geography. Mr. Palmer, the US Special Representative for the Western Balkans, delivered a similar message. At the meeting with government leaders, he stressed that the United States strongly supported RSM in achieving its strategic goals, full accession to NATO and launching negotiations with the EU. “RSM has set an example for resolving political issues and opening up perspectives for citizens”.
All these statements create an optimistic climate for October. It has been repeated in the public domain that the start of negotiations will be a special test for the entire system of North Macedonia for the overcrowded administration. Thus, without the support of civil society, which already has more advanced capacities, the whole process seems impossible. In this context, one should also see the first meeting of the EU Accession Negotiation Committee, which also discussed the models for involving civil society in the negotiation process.
The opening of negotiations will undoubtedly be a key moment for institutional redimensioning of North Macedonia. It would be a turning point and a happy end to the beginning of the painful process of eternal transition that has created unprecedented defiance among the citizens. But the word “happiness” in Macedonia seems so incomprehensible while this end-beginning of some other political and institutional time, of a qualitative transformation “traces” within the political parties that their mind is on early elections, or to stay longer in power, without realizing that even the domestic political dynamics on key issues could be crucial in October.
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