Instead of making step forward toward political and democratic stabilization of the country with the parliamentary elections which were held on the 11th of December 2016, Macedonia moved few steps back, leaving society in more divided position than ever. So, what happened?
After long period of political crisis, confrontations, boycot of the parliament and street protests of the opposition and rulling parties and their supporters in Macedonia, about what we wrote in our Freedom Barometer 2016 publication, European Union entered to facilitate reconciliation process between those two sides in order to tackle possibility of having more extreme confrontations and to bring stability to the country. And for a while, they succeeded to do so. It looked like, when opposition returned to the parliament and both sides agreed on the transitional government and the date of the new parliamentary elections, that political situation is going to improve, and sparks of hostility between citizens on both sides are going to fade away. Although elections were two times postponed, parliamentary campaign in December and the election day went in much better way than previous once. According to the OSCE ODIHR report, elections took place in environment which was characterized by public mistrust in institutions and political parties, but they were conducted in relatively free and fair manner. Beside mistakes which led to removing of number citizens from the voter lists, an election day lacked of events which can seriously endanger electoral process. However, incidents like abuse of state resources, voter intimidation and vote buying were registered during the campaign, implicating that there is a lot of space for improvement in this regard.
Ruling VMRO DPMNE won 51 seats on the elections and the biggest opposition SDSM won 49 seats. Although, VMRO DPMNE had opportunity to once again form a government, they didn’t manage to find a coalition partner to do so, and the “ball” end up in the opposition hands. After negotiations, agreement with Albanian minority was reached, thus the parliamentary majority was ensured by SDSM.
In that particular moment, a political crisis in Macedonia started its new phase. It’s often said that one who started losing, usually don’t hesitate to use all means to save its position. Exactly that happened here. Macedonian president decided to do not comply with Constitution and to do not accept political will of people and give a mandate to Zoran Zaev (SDSM leader) to form a government. This irresponsible act of weakening democratic institutions, bring division of the Macedonian society to a high degree. Manipulation and abuse of the law contribute only to the raise of tension among them, creating a deep scar on the society which will be hard to heal in the upcoming years. It is expected that SDSM form a government with its coalition partners soon and lead country for several years, however environment in which political decisions are going to be made will be characterized by a social deprecation and instability. This environment can only slow down, if not endanger, political efficiency of the country, and restore of thrust in politics and democracy will be much more complicated.
Rank of political freedom of Macedonia will further deterior in the next Freedom Barometer 2017 publication, but now it is far more important to bring the attention on the scars that will be left on Macedonian people and democracy in this country, reminding us why are democratic institutions so important.