Aleksandra M. Mitevska
Former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski failed yesterday to “knock out” the Law on the Use of Languages, although he completely penetrated into the speaker’s corner, trying to show off his boxing skills that, in fact, demonstrated (metaphorically) in the Parliament ring while he ruled in the country for over a decade.
Gruevski is probably planning to continue his political career in the same boxing manner as an opposition, considering his yesterday’s comeback in parliament, after the public only saw him entering and exiting from the hearings in the Skopje Criminal Court – due to the many accusations raised by the SPO. This is just one of the reasons why the former long-standing leader of VMRO-DPMNE has no legitimacy to spill water, turn off microphones and hit the speaker’s desk.
What might be common for a new political figure from the current opposition ranks seems to be disagreeable when it is caused by a former prime minister who, just a few years ago, for instance, protested the “amnesty” for Hague cases, at the small door in the parliament. What would happen to a random MP of the VMRO-DPMNE is certainly not recommended for the party’s new party leader who negotiated almost identical legal solution for the languages of the DUI, as this party agreed with SDSM a couple of months ago, which was now delivered to parliament for the second time.
With the adoption of the Law on Languages, another stage of the political chapter in Macedonia was basically closed, which began to be written shortly after the end of the inter-party negotiations in Przino and the announcement of early parliamentary elections in 2016 – as a timetable from which began the change of power. From that moment on, up to now, the Law on Languages was one of the dominant topics of the political scene in the country since the time it was only announced, and one of the main reasons for the protests in front of the legislature, as well as for the months-long interruption of the election of the new speaker and current government.
However, this is probably not the epilogue of the story of the Law on Languages. For instance, the opposition has the opportunity to challenge the Constitutional Court regulation, which is, in fact, the basis of the coalition between SDSM and DUI. From that aspect, the only positive news in this case is that the controversial Law has been removed from the parliamentary agenda for the time being, where MPs will finally be able to dedicate themselves to some more productive and more priority issues – of course, if they do not encounter some new blockades from the opposition. However, there are many negative news, and one of them, in addition to Gruevski’s “uppercut” and his surroundings, is that the ruling majority, mainly driven by DUI with the ignoring of nearly 36,000 amendments, basically ignored the parliamentary opposition and its right to propose amendments, and to use all the operational gaps and possibilities for correcting, as well as for obstructing the governing line.
For the image of this ruling headquarters, it would probably have been more useful to freeze the adoption of the Law on Languages temporarily than to impart to the VMRO people what they did to the Social Democrats while they were in opposition. The current ruling coalition could certainly survive for some time without the regulation that EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn said was not a state priority, although, on the other hand, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg assessed it as the last element of the mosaic called the Framework Agreement.
However, Gruevski and some of his party colleagues managed to “steal the thunder” of the Law on Languages yesterday, with the incident they created in the Parliament Hall. By obstructing the speaker, they actually overshadowed what was to be the main news from yesterday’s parliamentary session – that Talat Xhaferi threw tens of thousands of opposition amendments in the dumpster.
The parliamentary story about the controversial law, fortunately, did not end in the same way as Xhaferi’s parliament presidency began on April 27 of last year. Perhaps because this time there was no one to open the Parliament doors of the Parliament building to the protesters. On the other hand, Gruevski did manage to break the electronic voting system. That’s why the majority of MPs had to vote manually. Now it would be appropriate that Gruevski hits the breaks and hand over the political sword of his successor in VMRO-DPMNE, as he recently boasted of doing. Gruevski’s place in the political arena is now more in the audience, than in the ring.