Lately it seems that there is no bigger tragi-comic political figure than President Ivanov. Like a true Don Quixote, he is on a holy quest where he fights fictitious enemies, defending the country as he imagines it, and not understanding that these are different times where there is no place for his antiques. And on this last adventure he constantly overreaches and has ignored the Constitution multiple times, trying to stop processes than are now supported by a majority of citizens of Macedonia. The comic part, of course, is that he doesn’t understand that he is merely a “paper-tiger”, as he has always been. During his first eight years in power he drew power from the government of VMRO and was merely their puppet. With VMRO now in opposition he has no real power, and in the next few months he can only slow down, but not stop the Euro-Atlantic journey of the country.
In any case Macedonia would be in a much better position and would’ve passed some obstacles easier if it had a more capable or more visionary President. Lately we hear that he may even be impeached, which would be the correct move considering his abuse of his powers. But before we discuss such political combinations, it would be good to recall how he came to be President in the first place, and that in two occasions. It is often forgotten that he succeeded in part with the help of some groups that are now the loudest when calling for his removal.
Ivanov was elected for the first time in 2009. It was the first year of the VMRO-DUI coalition, and presidential elections were held together with local elections. As coalition partners VMRO and DUI agreed to run jointly in the second round of local elections. On the other hand DUI’s candidate for President, Agron Buxhaku, did not make the second round, so DUI had a clear path to support Ivanov. Mobilizing the voters was not difficult, as the second round of local elections was held on the same day. Considering how weak SDSM was at that time, Ivanov scored an easy victory. So for his first mandate Ivanov was elected with the votes of VMRO and DUI, and the support from DUI was entirely public.
In 2014, when Ivanov was elected for the second time, things were more complicated. After the long coalition with VMRO, DUI’s voters seemed tired of its subordination to VMRO and it was far from assured that they would vote for Ivanov. Even if they were instructed to do so, there was real danger of them going to the polls and voting for the opposition candidate Pendarovski. With Albanian voters in total apathy, and a clear lack of interest for presidential elections, SDSM would suddenly have an ace in its hand. It could then play with boycotting elections, and there would then be no chance of reaching the necessary census of 40%.
In this situation VMRO-DUI in 2014 had to find a way to get voters to the polls, but prevent Albanians from voting for Pendarovski. And so it was time for them to act out a conflict once more, as they often did when needing an exit from some situation. And so, a few months before presidential elections, in the beginning of 2014, DUI asked for a consensual President. VMRO of course expressly refused, and a government crisis was thus at hand. The proper solution to such a “crisis” were new parliamentary elections, that immediately met some needs of both VMRO and DUI.
Parliamentary election was scheduled together with the presidential, on the second round of presidential election to be exact. And this fact alone reveals the full scenario. If DUI really wanted a consensual President and was honest in its campaign for boycott, it would not have accepted early parliamentary election or would at least require it to be held with the first round of the presidential election, as seems more logical. But in this case the necessary census of 40% would come under threat and the danger of boycott would have been real. By holding the parliamentary election along with the second round of presidential, these problems were easily solved. DUI’s boycott campaign would then have its real effect, i.e. to prevent Albanians from voting for Pendarovski, but without endangering the 40% census that Ivanov needed. Ivanov thus scored another victory, again with the help of VMRO and DUI. These parties also handily used the fake conflict about the consensual President to score good results in parliamentary elections. Of course the conflict immediately disappeared once elections were over, and days later the two parties went on to constitute another government together.
To summarize, after Ivanov’s next offense and when we hear talk of his impeachment again, it should not be forgotten how this man came to such a high position in the first place. He is the result and one of the last relics of the VMRO-DUI regime coalition.