One year of Zaev’s government: Great expectations lead to great disappointments

The great expectations from the new government brought the same disappointment among the citizens that gave it a penalty card one year after the enthronement. Targeting priorities for resolving the name dispute and touching sensitive issues of identity and language on account of failure to deliver the promises of economic prosperity, is the key segment in the mosaic of dissatisfaction among the majority of citizens.

This is how the expert public evaluated the poll of the Macedonian Center for International Cooperation for Telma TV, which showed that the citizens in Macedonia are divided in the assessment of the first anniversary of the government led by SDSM and Zoran Zaev, that the mass support by the summer of 2017 is now standing on shaky ground. According to the survey, 36.8% of the respondents think that the country is moving in a negative direction, 35% in the positive, and 22.4% that it is the same as before. Thirty-five percent of the citizens are completely dissatisfied with the Government’s work, 12 percent are somewhat dissatisfied, 16.5 percent are completely satisfied, and 32.5 percent are somewhat satisfied, which means that the dissatisfied-satisfied ratio is 47-49 percent.
Liljana Popovska, MP in the Parliament and president of DOM, a party that is in a coalition with SDSM, identified three main problems that decreased the citizens’ support of the government.

First, there were great expectations that were unrealistic to be accomplished in just one year, and that is why there is now a great disappointment. Secondly, the key message of all those protests that crushed the previous government in power was ‘No justice, no peace’. Citizens called for accountability and fairness, but there is no outcome in all these cases, those that were responsible are not held accountable, and we have another betrayal yet again. Third, this year of political crisis was accompanied by the ethnic crisis, new fires were started and mistrust was created, the things that the citizens are emotionally touched by are being resolved, because the name, the language and the identity are being discussed. Certainly, there were mistakes in the government’s personnel policies, but these are childhood diseases that must be handled during the formation of a new heterogeneous team, and I do not think that they were not the weight that weighed on one side or the other,” Popovska stated for Nezavisen/Independent newspaper.
Her colleague, Pavle Bogoevski, who was one of the recognizable figures of the “Colorful Revolution”, then moved to the parliamentary benches and became part of a coalition of government, says that citizens are never wrong, and any criticism must be serious reviewed.

“It is evident that there is a difference in a year, but it is also understandable that in a year, quality policies cannot be implemented that will have visible results on improving the everyday life of citizens. Therefore, the results of the survey should serve to refocus the priorities, and as a basis for the direction in which the communication between the government and citizens should take place, and vice versa. As for the ‘punishment’ of citizens for a coalition with DUI or some personnel policies, it must be said that the political milieu in the state is as it is. Mistakes were made, and will be others in the fututre, but the point is that those mistakes are reduced and not a rule of operation of the system,” Bogoevski stated for Nezavisen/Independent.
Regarding ethnicity, most Albanians believe that the situation goes in the positive direction, less that it is negative or the same, while the Macedonians have a greater percentage of those who think that the situation goes in a negative direction.

If, however, the party’s opinion is compared, only 8.1% of VMRO-DPMNE’s supporters think that the state is moving in a positive direction, and almost 73% in the negative. Analyzes show that those 35 percent who stated that the country is moving in a positive direction are mainly derived from the supporters of SDSM, DUI and the Alliance. It is also specific that 9.7% of SDSM supporters think that the country is going in the negative direction, and 13.1% that the situation is the same. On the other hand, according to the survey, as many as 38.4 per cent of DUI supporters are dissatisfied with the work of the government in the past year.
Analyst Visar Ademi believes that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev along with the government cabinet will turn the entire capacity to domestic problems, as soon as they resolve the 27-year-old name dispute with Greece because, according to him, the internal reforms that the European Commission demands from Macedonia depend precisely on the solution of the name dispute, and therefore in this context Macedonia cannot move forward.
“Zaev knows that in the absence of a solution to the name, the reforms in the country cannot be implemented in any way, and that there are big functional problems in one problematic governance. He knows that Macedonia’s only way forward is to find a solution to the name dispute. The moment this problem is solved, the integration process that has been held hostage by this issue for more than 25 years will move forward, and as a domino effect it will affect domestic politics, or more precisely in those fields where citizens are dissatisfied, such as economy and employment. Zaev knows very well that without resolving the name, no reform in any field can be done. That is why he is focused on solving this issue. At the moment when this is done, the prime minister and the government will turn their intellectual capacity and attention to internal reforms and problems such as migration, poor living standards, low purchasing power of citizens, primarily economic problems, but there are other social problems,” analyzes Ademi.

According to him, the high percentage of DUI voters’ dissatisfaction with the government is a result of the consequences left behind by the past government coalition with VMRO-DPMNE.

“There are many people who cannot forget those 10 years that quickly. I am talking about personal connections, ideological ties with VMRO-DPMNE and it is high time that those ties are interrupted. It is normal that those people who have connections with VMRO-DPMNE have their own interest and a group of voters who they manipulate, and maybe that particular group of citizens is dissatisfied with this government, and are the biggest losers of the reforms of the current government,” Ademi said.

New government – old problems, is analyst Isa Spahiu’s assessment. He stressed that a year should have been enough for Prime Minister Zoran Zaev to fulfil his promises, such as a better living standard and salaries of 500 euros.

“One year is enough to make dramatic changes, starting from salaries, improving services, changes in administration … Here it seems that the “wolf” likes the clouds, and those clouds as well are always for the benefit of the Macedonians. For a year, as Zaev promised, the problem with the name should have been solved, for us to have a minimum salary of 500 euros, to have changes in administration and governance. Neither the issue with the Albanian language, nor the one with the salaries, have been regulated so far, Zaev has not fulfilled any promise, along with his ruling coalition,” Spahiu said.
The telephone survey, conducted by M-Prospect in the period between May 15 and May 23, showed that job growth is a priority to 26.8 percent of respondents, and economic development is a priority to one in four citizens. About sixty percent of citizens are dissatisfied with the measures for economic growth, the increase in the minimum wage, the eradication of corruption and crime, the judiciary, education, administration, health services, infrastructure… Citizens are most satisfied with the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and most dissatisfied with the work of the Ministry of Health.

Goran Adamovski

Blerim Ismaili