Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Minorities in Coalition-Building: The Case of the Republic of Macedonia

Academic journal article Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe : JEMIE

Minorities in Coalition-Building: The Case of the Republic of Macedonia

Article excerpt

The primary aim when accommodating ethnic group diversity is to design a state organization structure that is capable of accepting diversities through different mechanisms and instruments (Andeva & Marichikj, 2013: 172). In the process of doing so, the Republic of Macedonia was under a amount of pressure to develop a framework that would fit the needs and rights of its minorities. Following political changes in the early 1990's, the country entered a process of social transition, and as a newly independent state, faced a denial of its identity from without as well as amended identity definitions from within (Dodovski, 2012:92). Ethnic Macedonians, being the constituent nationality of the state, were living out a dream of a free and independent Macedonia. Through the years to come, the country faced a number of challenges in its transition from a mono-ethnic nation-state to a multicultural state in which ethnic Macedonians share the state with other constituent members.

As statistics confirm (Table 1), the Republic of Macedonia has an interethnic structure composed of one dominant group (the Macedonian ethnic community) and one large minority group (the Albanian national minority). 1 As such, the structure reflects a relationship between Macedonians and Albanians, and at many times through the years has shown signs of a relationship between the state and the Albanian national minority as the biggest minority group in the country (Frckoski, 2005). There is an evident cultural difference between these two nationalities, with Christian Orthodox religion and the Macedonian language on one side, and mostly Muslim religion and Albanian language on the other. A distinct line of conflict between these two groups was manifested through the struggle of cultural rights such as education in the mother tongue, use of symbols of the ethnic group, establishments of cultural groups, media in the mother tongue, etc. This cultural conflict does not occur independently, but rather hand in hand with political processes in the country. In such a context, minorities' political participation in Macedonia can be seen from two different angles: from one side, the nature and type of participation by the Albanian national minority, and from the other, the struggle of smaller minority groups for more effective involvement in the decision-making processes in the country.

Party coalition formation in the western democracies has been the subject of numerous studies, mainly focusing on government coalitions (Riker, 1962; Pridham, 1986; Laver and Schofield, 1998). In recent years, focus has been made also on pre-electoral coalition formation (Golder, 2006). Studies on party pre-election coalitions in the Republic of Macedonia have been carried out as well, analysing pre-electoral coalition formation and the factors influencing it with an emphasis on the ideological compatibility of the interested parties, their number (i.e. the size of their expected coalition), the electoral strength of the potential coalitional parties, the ideological polarization of the party system and the disproportionality of the electoral rules (Dimovski 2011; Dimovski, 2014)3. With specific relation to the case of Macedonia, Bieber (2008) contributes to the literature of minorities in electoral systems and in governments while comprehensively analysing the countries of Central and South-Eastern Europe, offering highlights from the Macedonian case. Friedman (2005) has also conducted an analysis of the minority representation and electoral system in Macedonia by examining the results of parliamentary elections from independence until 2002. More focused studies on the participation of minorities in the political life of Macedonia and specifically the concerns of political parties representing minorities has also been carried out by Taleski (2008: 136), and in a more comprehensive approach focusing on minority participation in Government by Robotin (2003).

There is a lack of single studies specifically directed to the phenomenon of coalitionbuilding and minorities' participation in such a process in the Republic of Macedonia in the existing body of literature. …

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