The type of question depends on the campaign that will have to be conducted by the political entities by the end of this summer, as Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, in an interview with Alsat - M, announced that the vote could be held in late September, ie on September 30th or possibly October 7th. Zaev also did not exclude the possibility of a negation question that would actually put opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski in the position of providing a census.
If the question is negative, then the opponents of the agreement will need to provide greater mobilization of the electoral body, in order to achieve the necessary censuses for a possible successful referendum with which the Prespa agreement would become null and void. Such a question, on the other hand, would allow the ruling party to call for a boycott of the referendum, because its failure would imply the confirmation of the name agreement and the transition to the next stages of its implementation, that is, of constitutional changes.
A similar tactic is actually taken by the previous government of SDSM and DUI with the boycott of the referendum on the new territorial organization in 2004, initiated by the World Macedonian Congress, and behind which the then opposition headed by VMRO-DPMNE also stopped. And then the so-called trick question. Thus, the citizens, instead of declaring whether they are in favor or against the new division of the municipalities, were supposed to answer whether they are to remain for the former territorial division of the state envisaged by the 1996 law. Although the majority of voters then said "yes" to staying in the old organization, the crucial turnout for the referendum was a low turnout of around 26.5 percent, versus the required over 50 percent.
However, if the referendum question is affirmative, then the ruling government needs to provide greater mobilization of voters in order to achieve the required census turnout and securing the majority of "yes" votes to change the name in order to open the Euro-Atlantic perspectives of the country. It will not be an easy task, especially if there is no assistance from the opposition. An aggravating circumstance for the census is also the outdated voter list and information for several hundred expatriate citizens abroad in recent years. Diaspora voters will be able to participate in the referendum only if they come back to the country, because this type of voting does not provide voting in diplomatic-consular representations.
However, with the participation of the largest political entities, regardless of the opposition calling for an "against" vote, the estimates are that it is not impossible to reach the required census, even if it is at the very border of 50 percent plus one voter. An example of this is the recent election cycles in Macedonia, when more than half of the registered voters regularly went to the polls. Even in the local elections, for which there was no voting organized in the Macedonian embassies around the world, turnout in almost all municipalities was above 50 per cent, with the exception of several municipalities with a predominantly Albanian population where the turnout was slightly less than 50 per cent. According to estimates, the strong influence of the turnout will actually have the campaign, ie the way the most relevant political stakeholders will be placed in it.
Yesterday, VMRO-DPMNE stated that the agreement with Greece violated the Constitution and, as the party said, as soon as it was signed. Now, according to the opposition, the government is trying to break the Constitution yet again by publishing the name agreement in the "Official Gazette" without the signature of President Gjorge Ivanov.
"Zaev and SDSM have renounced the name, the nation, the identity and the Macedonian minority without a second thought. Our neighbors, thanks to Zaev, already call our country North Macedonia, and on top of everything Zaev and SDSM attacked their own people who went out to protest against the embarrassing and capitulating agreement," VMRO-DPMNE Vice-president Vlado Misajlovski said yesterday. He urged those who are dissatisfied with the name agreement to join the protest organized by the opposition next weekend in Strumica.
SDSM, however, said that "VMRO-DPMNE will not block the Macedonian future" and that citizens will say "yes" to guaranteed Macedonian identity and to EU and NATO membership.
"VMRO-DPMNE should clearly say whether it is for EU and NATO membership or is still dreaming of returning the country in the times of isolation, instability, divisions and a distorted international reputation. VMRO-DPMNE's attempts to manipulate Macedonia's future through manipulations and fabrications are vain. Citizens freely referendum will use the historic chance and will support an agreement that once and for all protects the Macedonian identity and provides the future,” SDSM said in a statement.
Zaev recently said that the parliament will announce the referendum after the NATO summit ends on July 12. According to the estimates in parliament, the decision to call a referendum could be put on the agenda and on the session scheduled for June 17th, if there is an agreement on the referendum question and the character of the declaration, ie whether the referendum will be consultative or compulsory. But whatever it is, Zaev has confirmed in the past few days that the will of the citizens will be binding for the political factors. Visiting Alsat - M, the prime minister said there were indications that President Ivanov would not go against the agreement with Greece if it turned out to be confirmed in the upcoming referendum.
Aleksandra M. Mitevska