Comment 08 May 17

Autocracy has Fallen in Macedonia - Nationalism Has Not

The VMRO DPMNE-led nationalist autocracy in Macedonia may be coming to an end - but nationalism itself will remain, embedded in the heart of the political mainstream.

Petrit Sarachini
 Macedonia's new Parliament Speaker, Talat Xhaferi. Photo: MIA

Some days after the outburst of violence seen in Macedonia’s parliament on April 27, Talat Xhaferi, the newly elected speaker, finally assumed his post. In 26 years of Macedonia's independence, it was the first time an ethnic Albanian had taken one of the three top political posts in the country.

But the prelude to this was months of protests on the streets and obstruction in the parliament by the former ruling VMRO-DPMNE party, which led Macedonia for the last 11 years, mostly in coalition with Xhaferi’s Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

Both the protesters and VMRO-DPMNE claimed that a government led by Zoran Zaev’s Social Democrats, SDSM, would jeopardize the country’s sovereignty, mainly because Zaev had accepted several demands set by ethnic Albanian parties, including a call for greater official use of the Albanian language.

The protesters said they would never allow a former commander of the National Liberation Army - the now disbanded Albanian guerrilla force from the 2001 armed conflict - to become the second-most powerful man in the country and would use all means necessary to stop this.

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