The latest amendments to the Criminal Code, which will also allow pardoning economic crimes committed during the rule of the former government, have turned even the most hardline of Social Democrats. Believing in a law-abiding state is getting more difficult each day, and what’s even more devastating is that no one can tell with certainty whether we have reached the lowest point. The ruling party’s president, Zoran Zaev, also expressed his discontent, but his arguments – that it was better to pay a political cost, than for the country to collapse – was key to shutting his eyes before the additional amnesty.
I will pay the price if necessary
Sources from Bihac Street informed that, as with any amendment or decision that needs to be pushed in the Assembly, a coordinative meeting was convened with the parliamentary group of SDSM and the smaller coalition partners. At the meeting, Prime Minister Zaev explained the need for passing a law on selective amnesty, but he told MPs that this might not be enough to secure a two-thirds majority for voting on constitutional changes arising from the agreement with Greece. He argued that some of the opposition MPs who voted “in favor” of the Prespa Agreement, are now hesitant and openly said that without their votes, the whole process would fail.
“Some of his colleagues suggested that he was exaggerating with the permissiveness, explaining that Nikola Gruevski and his regime were overthrown with the slogan “No justice, no peace”. They pointed out that the price to be paid to get votes from other MPs is perhaps too high. Apart from personal dissatisfaction the anger that will be provoked among the people and among the supporters of SDSM also was mentioned, as well as among the citizens who protested daily against Gruevski, and are now feeling deceived and cheated. Zaev answered that no price is high enough when it comes to the future of Macedonia. He said that he was ready to sacrifice himself in order for the country to move on the right track. It was mentioned that our international partners sought justice and legal resolution of the events of April 27, not amnesty, but they answered that they were aware of the situation, because of which they gave a green light for the so-called “reconciliation”, which we instantly knew means amnesty. In the end, we agreed to support the law on amnesty and amendments to the Criminal code,” said a ruling majority MP.
He points out that in the first phase of the amnesty law, there were lawmakers from the government who did not even vote, which was evidence of their principled position. Later, in the following stages, they saw the need to approve such a legal solution, especially after MPs from VMRO-DPMNE supported it. Members of the SDSM leadership structures say that intra-party democracy is at a fairly high level that allows for exchange of opinions, but also fierce quarrels and misunderstandings that sometimes goes to the detriment of the interests of the party. They say that it was the same when they were in power, and earlier when they were the main opposition.
Different style of governance
“The difference is in the style of governance – between Branko Crvenkovski, who announced the decisions and was rarely opposed by anyone, and Zoran Zaev, who allows criticism even from the lower echelons. For instance, at a meeting before the local election last year, the municipal organizations in the eastern part of the country “asked” Zaev not to hurry with the Law on languages at least until the election was over, because it will reflect on the results in their communities. The same thing was said to him from the Tetovo branch. He took their advice,” our interlocutor claimed.
According to him, the party leader quite clearly and openly tells the party members what must be done in order to achieve certain goals. So, for instance, immediately after the parliamentary election and DUI’s refusal to form a coalition with VMRO-DPMNE, he told his people in SDSM that he would have to accept the so-called “Tirana Platform”. It was accepted under the motto: “Let’s remove Gruevski, get to power, and then we will manage.” Later, as Ali Ahmeti’s appetites grew, so did the threshold of tolerance.
“When the Law on languages was up, one of our former lawmakers, who was quite exposed to the public, told him that this was not good and left the in middle of a discussion,” said the source from Bihac Street.
The Social Democratic Union, for the time being, rejects the possibility that one of the streams in the party will try to use the situation and, riding a wave of public discontent, try to take Zaev down. In that context were discussed the latest polls and analyzes of media and journalists close to the government, which advised the prime minister to accept the challenge and move his office from Ilinden Street to the Vodno villa.
“He himself has said several times in recent days that he will not run for president, and that is what he told us too. As for the streams in the party, they are not currently powerful enough to even approach Zaev, so his position is secure,” SDSM’s official concluded.