Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Pre-election Calculations

Author: Sefer Selimi Jr.

Pre-election coalitions are natural, logical and they are an instrument of political parties to maximize the electorate’s vote and consequently to seize power, the primary reason for which political parties are established and exist. Under normal conditions of healthy democracy, coalitions are built based on a governing political program and its axis lies on the ideological concept that enables sustainability both in program implementation and in its functioning. Unlike the pre-election one, the post-election coalition is imposed by the number of votes and often can be seen ideological mutations that produce fragile Governments, dictated by numerous compromises to extend their lifespan.

North Macedonia is heading towards the election campaign and the calculations are ongoing by measuring the mood of voters through surveys and public attitudes. All this is often done in the euphoria of the desire for victory, but calculations in politics are dictated by many unknowns that often this euphoria neglects. How can we translate current calculations?

Democratic Union for Integration (DUI)

It is almost certain that DUI will run alone in the 12 April elections. The pre-election coalition in the local and presidential races with SDSM cannot be reflected in the parliamentary elections for a number of reasons, but the most important are the political system and the electoral code.

Political system – With the constitutional changes after 2002, North Macedonia operates on the principle of separation of powers between the two largest ethnicities and the mechanism of protection against ethnic majority through the Badenter’s principle that is favorable for the largest Albanian political party. The 2006 VMRO-DPMNE’s experiment with DPA proved to be dysfunctional, placing DUI in a strategic position to be a key element in government building. DUI hopes to be the winner again in the Albanian camp, and given this position, post-election calculations are more favorable to the pre-election coalition.

Electoral Code – Blocking changes in the electoral system through thousands of amendments in the Parliament reflects DUI’s party interest. The current code is favorable to the larger parties and DUI’s interest is mainly in the sixth constituency, resulting in the largest number of Albanian deputies allowing DUI to remain in the strategic position given by the political system of North Macedonia. In addition, closed lists eliminate the opportunity to run jointly with Macedonian political parties, largely due to the complete immaturity in ethnic relations between Albanians and Macedonians.

The fact that DUI remains for such a long time in power has decimated the party’s internal potential for reform, and the declarative efforts for such a process are only symbolic and superficial imposed by public pressure. However, it is clear that the centers of political power are concentrated in a few people, the same ones who have held power since its establishment. This has created a closed political circuit that produces clientelism, corruption and is exclusive of the political potential that is beyond the control of this county. It is primarily in the interest of DUI’s members but also of Albanians and other citizens of North Macedonia for this party to go into opposition to have its own reform catharsis, a process impossible to happen while in power.

Alliance for Albanians-Alternative-BESA
(in alphabetical order)

The pre-election coalition between these opposition parties is more of a melancholy desire than a real possibility. The math of the 2016 post-election results showed that the opposition vote is bigger than the DUI vote, but the electoral and political system (as explained above) favors DUI. The narrow party interests and personal anger between the Besa’s Movement and the Alternative are toxic to the longevity and effective functioning of such a coalition. The Alliance for Albanians in this case would have to spend more energy in managing this relationship than in valorizing the votes that both of them can bring to the post-election negotiation table.

Alliance for Albanians – Alternative

This coalition is the most wanted for DUI. The political potential of the Alternative is outside the sixth constituency and this reduces the risk of the opposition receiving the majority of the Albanian vote, respectively the largest number of Albanian deputies. Beyond that, the coalition’s mutual ideological axes does not exist and the parties have conflicting political form, action and goals with only two common interests: the power and to overthrow DUI. The first is the legitimate interest of all parties and requires a political program, which we do not see these parties negotiate, while the latter has proven that it cannot be a political bid to bring about victory.

Alliance for Albanians – BESA’s Movement

Mathematically, this coalition has more potential to bring about change on the political scene but as in the former case, it is only a mathematical calculation with many unknowns. The split of the Besa’s Movement into two parties leaves room for speculation but not a clear picture of how much this party really weighs in votes. The difference between Alternative and Besa is that the latter focuses its political action on the sixth constituency and could hypothetically bring more to the coalition. Even in this case, the mutual ideological axe of this coalition does not exist and the parties have conflicting political form, action and goals with only two common interests: the power and to overthrow DUI.

The Alliance for Albanians

It is a political party, which has been steadily increasing since the 2016 elections. Its political force is in the sixth constituency and is the only Albanian party that has real potential to win DUI in the elections. Politics is not a 100-meter sprint but a marathon that requires determination, perseverance, energy and clarity for the ultimate goal. Entering the race as single comes with the greatest risk of not winning the majority of Albanian deputies but the political scene in North Macedonia will be very dynamic in the coming years and clear positioning and weight gain in Parliament, whether in opposition is the biggest victory for ASH. Therefore, instead of wasting its energy on managing capricious interests among the parties in the coalition, it should focus on building a modern, understandable and realistic program for citizens.

Others

One thing is clear to all; these elections will wipe out from the political scene many small parties in the Albanian bloc. Who will survive with 1 or 2 deputies is really unknown but their fate is certain, they will end up in other parties.

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