Comment 20 Oct 17

Macedonia Has Provided a Blueprint for the Balkans

Events in Macedonia have powerfully confirmed the thesis that it is not parties or foreign governments that bring about democratic change in  authoritarian regimes, but grassroots popular mobilization.

Jasmin Mujanovic
BIRN
Macedonian PM and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev celebrated the election victory with his party teammates and supporters in Skopje. Photo: MIA

The recent municipal elections in Macedonia represent the completion of a full rotation of what we might term a cycle of social change. That is, the journey from political crisis to response to resolution. And, in that regard, these events are an important example for the rest of the region.

Let us review what has just taken place and what the Macedonian people have accomplished over the last three years. To be clear, it is the Macedonian people who have won this opportunity for a genuine democratic revolution in the country; not the Social Democratic Party of Macedonia, SDSM, not the international community, but ordinary Macedonian citizens. 

The revelation of a program of mass surveillance in 2015 by the then government of Nikola Gruevski and his VMRO-DPMNE party was scandalous. But in the grand canon of Balkan statesmanship it was hardly without precedent.

Political blackmail, media repression, and state-sanctioned violence against government critics are more or less the norm across most of the region.

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