Sunday, May 19, 2024

Election Foreplay

Author: Sefer Selimi Jr. 

The end of this year should also bring the end to the political Government of the Republic of North Macedonia and pave the way for the technical Government responsible for organizing the 12 April 2020 elections. This outgoing Government came and ruled in one of the most turbulent times in political history since the independence of the state, filled with dramatic events, historical decisions and scandals somewhere and even in surreal proportions. To make the recapitulation of sensational events it would be even harder for the world’s most accomplished screenwriter if he had to include them in a short film in order to refresh the collective memory. However, the clock has begun to count back and the New Year will find us with new prime ministers and ministers from the Przhino agreement.

Although the official pre-election campaign is three months away, the parties have turned on their engines and the electoral foreplay is already at its zenith. What stands out are the scenarios that are not good at the issue how this campaign will be run. The re-emergence of ethnic themes by challenging the Law on the Use of Languages, which essentially advances the use of the Albanian language in the vertical of power, seems to pave the way for serious and substantive debates on specific topics for the citizens of North Macedonia. It seems that identity politics will stifle economic and social development policies and once again pave the way for populist politicians who, with their professional mediocrity, will play the drums of ‘national cause’, plunging the endless and monotonous discussions of the traitor and the patriot, Robin Hood and the corrupted, the savior and the scarecrow, discussions that have everything within them except concrete solutions that can improve the lives of the ordinary citizen.

In the meantime, battalions of party armies are sharpening their fingers to launch a virtual war on social networks, and just as in the past, this war cannot be expected to be a rational confrontation with argued debate but a clash of   slanders and insults aimed to degrade the ” other ”. Soon on our virtual walls will begin to appear as mushrooms, pictures of leaders in churches and mosques, in the warm embrace of the people, in cultural and sporting events, in markets and cafes to hear the sovereign’s worries. Under the sharp eye of ”FaceBook’s moral police” we will discuss moral and religious values, family history, and anything but the competitors’ professional competencies for our votes. The Government’s pre-election programs will be there, in different formats and volumes designed to warm the free eye but the discussion will not go further than the form because to discuss their content one has to read it all and as always we do not like reading.

All of these are a Deja Vu from previous cycles that even the most ordinary voter can predict the dynamics of their development. However, the coming campaign will have more than the traditional events of our political culture. A large arsenal of compromising material is in the hands of various secret services, many of whom are not a particularly fan to North Macedonia’s aspirations for a NATO member. While political parties have begun preparations for the pre-election campaign, elsewhere a parallel disinformation campaign is under way. Voters this time will need an even sharper eye to look beyond party bubbles, an eye that we unfortunately do not have. Therefore, journalists, media and other social actors will have the responsibility to clear the cloud around voters and crack not only party bubbles but also the disinformation that will be spread.

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