Macedonia

Policy Brief: Unraveling the Political Crisis in Macedonia: Toward Resolution or Calm Before the Storm?

In a period of less than two weeks, between 5 and 18 May 2015, Macedonia had violent protests, a weekend-“war,” resignations in government, and continued social mobilization for and against the government, which resulted in two big rallies and the setting up of two separate tent camps in the center of Skopje, one against the government and another in its support. Negotiations between the political leaders, facilitated by international actors, brought momentary political stability; however, the question remains if the negotiations will resolve the political crisis in a deeply divided and...

Escalation of protests and violence: Macedonia awakening or going toward an abyss?

On 5 May 2015, peaceful protests escalated into clashes between protesters and police in Macedonia. For several hours, protesters rallied peacefully in front of the government, occasionally throwing eggs at the newly-made baroque facade. However, before midnight the police moved to disperse the protesters, which resulted in violence.

Both protesters and policemen have been injured and hospitalized, while some 30 people have been arrested. While...

How to make EU mediation work in Macedonia

Since Macedonian Prime Minister Gruevski accused the opposition of plotting the overthrow of the government and espionage and opposition leader Zoran Zaev began regularly releasing “bombs” of wiretapped calls that suggest corruption, abuse of office, electoral fraud and a range of other crimes by the prime minister and his associates, tensions in Macedonia have been increasing steadily.  

Now, the EU has become engaged with a low-level mediation by MEPs between government and opposition, meeting in Brussels on...

A reflection on the emerging politics of resistance in Macedonia

For the past few months we have been witnessing an abundant expression of resistance in Macedonia, manifested by the dissent of different social groups from students, professors, part-time workers, journalists, teachers to high-school students. All of them, for different reasons, and organized under different Plenums, have displayed their resentment against the authoritarian practices of the regime of Nikola Gruevski, the current Prime Minister of Macedonia. This blog post aims to dispel the persisting myth in Macedonia which holds that the citizens are passive and not very keen to express...

An Authoritarian Regime Fighting To Survive - A more likely view of the “spy drama” in Macedonia

In a surreal turn of events, Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of Macedonia, accused Zoran Zaev, leader of the main opposition party, for plotting a coup d'etat with the help of a foreign secret service. A week later, Zaev revealed wire-tapped phone conversations of himself, journalists, leaders of Albanian political parties and members of Gruevski's cabinet. Zaev accused the government of the abuse of power and for illegally following the communication of about 20,000 people in the last several years. He announced criminal...

Traitors, Bombs, Spies and Coup - Macedonian Political Surrealism

On 31st January 2015 the Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, publicly announced that the state institutions are persecuting Mr. Zoran Zaev, the leader of the Social Democratic Union (SDSM) opposition party, for espionage and violence against representatives of top state authorities with a purpose of violently undermining the constitutional order.  Gruevski claims that he held four meetings with Zaev in the period between September and November 2014, during which  Zaev pushed for forming a technical government under the threat that...

'Skopje, you will be joy' – an account of the student protests in Macedonia

Recently, the government of Macedonia, led by the national-conservative party (VMRO-DPMNE), has announced new amendments to the Law on Higher Education. The new Law, according to the authorities, should improve the quality of education in Macedonia. The proposed amendments envisage students to take an 'external examination' twice before graduation. Should students fail the testing, they will not be able to continue with the studies until they pass the 'external/state exam'.

Shortly after the government let the public know about their intention, the students formed a...

From student protests to movement – the (un)expected reinvention of politics in Macedonia

On December 10th 2014, tens of thousands of university and secondary students, citizens and supporters took to the streets in several towns/cities in Macedonia and clearly expressed their “No” to the governmental plan to introduce external or state-tests for university students of all degrees. Realistic estimates place over 10.000 protestors at the march in Skopje, which in fact is the greatest non-partisan, civil society and cross-ethnic mobilization in modern Macedonian history.

Just a day before the event...

Macedonian Student's Plenum - A Cry for Respect.

On December 10th, 2014 thousands of students defied the Government led by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and took to the streets of Skopje, Macedonia's capital city.

Despite harassment, intimidation and a campaign led by the government supported media to discredit them, the students marched to the government buildings and demanded that the government withdraw its plan to introduce a state imposed exam before graduation.

For a period of time during the demonstration internet access was blocked, thus preventing the use of social media by the students. This...

Analysis of the Macedonian Presidential Elections

On 13th of April, Macedonia had its first round of the Presidential elections. The incumbent, Professor Gjorgje Ivanov, supported by the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, faced three challengers: Stevo Pendarovski supported by the former communist SDSM; Iljaz Halimi from the ethnic Albanian opposition party, DPA and Zoran Popovski from the newly founded GROM. Turnout was 49%, less than in 2009 when at the first round of presidential elections it was 57%, and much less than at the last local elections last spring when turnout was 67%. The coalition partner of VMRO-DPMNE, ethnic Albanian party the...

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