It seems that it would be easier for SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE to forgive each other, than VMRO-DPMNE to forgive itself. As the situation in the main opposition party began to unfold, it seems that they will remain stuck in their own Walpurgis fate for a longer term. The latest letter Mijalkov sent to Mickoski is just a leitmotif of this process, but it shows several interesting lines of narrative in the opposition at this moment.
The first one is the struggle for the true bearer of the VMRO-DPMNE brand. This is a normal phase after a serious division and basically represents a line of accusations about who are the true Vmro supporters – the expelled ones or the others. In this line, the two currents will be blamed for being the real traitor of the ideals, the name, the strategy, and the doctrine of the party. Seemingly repetitive and boring narrative, seen countless times in these syndromes of abandoned lovers.
What, however, what makes this cheering on both sides of the fence in this case interesting is that the stories on both sides are problematic, dual, maybe even schizophrenic. This is because VMRO-DPMNE has not yet cleared up which is their real brand – anti-Western or pro-Western, nationalistic or inclusive. So, paradoxically, there are accusations of two contradictory things in the letters ( I expect this to be repeated as that fight intensifies) – who did more so that the MPs dn’t divide, and who was more in favor of the EU and NATO. This problem comes from the mismatch of the party with the general discourse and the direction in which the processes will move.
The elite in the so-called ‘White Palace’ (while they are still there) announces that it has cleared up with the past, that it has left all baggage behind, has finished the catharsis and now with stands before the voters a clear image. Moreover, the axes of their main messages are already in the coming period, which should (according to, I suppose, their estimates, and the general political dynamics) be rehabilitated in the political sense in the period between the beginning of the ratification of NATO membership in February, and the beginning of the negotiations with the EU in June. However, I think that these theses will take a little more time to be established.
First, the opposition will suddenly begin to chant that they have never been against NATO and the EU. No, we did not understand them right, they just don’t like the agreement (they would have reached a better one), but not against NATO and the EU – on the contrary, it was a strategic commitment, centenary aspiration, they actually worked for it all along. When VMRO-DPMNE’s lion roars (a lot quieter now, to be honest), it roars: EUUUU, NATOOO… I think this story will remain problematic in the medium term, regardless of the spontaneous amnesia that will affect the opposition for their own behavior. It hardly will be forgotten by both the Macedonian electorate and the international community, the systematic and organized effort of this party, in spite of all indications, to keep us out of the western currents.
That leads us to the VMRO-DPMNE’s second new message: we are actually best friends with the international community, we are not fighting, on the contrary. I think they underestimate the memory of the “foreigners”. They also have an additional problem with them, which can make their desired rehabilitation with the “umbrellas” impossible.
Firstly, the arrogance and aggressiveness they showed toward them in the last period resembles of Milosevic’s best days, what was missing was calling them “evil” and calling us to give up all comforts. Second, things went a bit too far, with official letters, anti-Western protests etc. Most of all, the opposition demonstrated the complete abandonment of the values of the Western world – and that is something that is hard to forget, regardless of the amount of freshly applied makeup. In the end, VMRO-DPMNE’s biggest problem is that the only characters of that party that could reasonably claim to be pro-Western are now excluded. The only members remaining in the party are the proven “West haters”, while outside, on the other side of the fence, there are those who can only be a serious partner to the international community. So, I think that this process will be problematic as well.
The third message that VMRO-DPMNE tries to send, which is also problematic, is their relationship with the Albanians. They say they would have to communicate better with other ethnic communities, which was their previous problem. Hmmm, that’s not exactly right. Their problem was that they persistently and systematically tried to prevent all projects that were important to the Albanians, and not that they did not know how to explain it to the “problematic ones”. The blockade of the law on languages, Xhaferi’s election, the violence against Albanians on April 27th is neither meaningless nor moves that the Albanians will easily or quickly forgive. Therefore, it is still early to argue that VMRO-DPMNE has ceased to be politically “leprosy” for the Albanian parties. Then, their claim that they have “cleared up with crime” and that, maybe even symbolically, it is a “problem of SDSM”, with that proclamation of the new “criminal coalition” is also uncertain, given that less than 10 percent of the cases against the previous government are being processed and that there is still a lot of material that will remind us again and again of the way VMRO-DPMNE governed the country. That will make their main strategy for turning towards economy problematic, to say the least.
In the end, it is not impossible for VMRO-DPMNE to successfully rebrand itself. But this is probably impossible with the current figures there. The current political leadership made a crucial mistake: Todorov, Jancev, Bogdanov (read, the best for re-brandingthe party) were kicked out. Mickoski and the old nationalists remained. In this constellation, it is likely that the essential rebranding of VMRO-DPMNE will be conditioned by a new “purge”, which would include the exclusion of their current leader.
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik