Macedonia - Background

Governments of the Republic of Macedonia, 1991-present
Year Prime Minister Party composition
1991 Nikola Kljusev Independent
1992 Branko Crvenkovski SDSM
1998 Ljubčo Georgievski VMRO-DPMNE
2002 Branko Crvenkovski SDSM
2004 Radmila Šekerinska SDSM
2004 Hari Kostov Independent
2004 Radmila Šekerinska SDSM
2004 Vlado Bučkovski SDSM
2006 Nikola Gruevski VMRO-DPMNE

 

Note: only Prime Minister's party affiliation is listed.

SDSM: Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (Socijaldemokratski sojuz na Makedonija)
VMRO-DPMNE: Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (Vnatrešna makedonska revolucionerna organizacija – Demokratska partija za makedonsko nacionalno edinstvo)

Macedonian history at a glance

After the First World War, during which Macedonia was occupied by the Bulgarians and the Central Powers of Austria-Hungary and Germany, Vardar Macedonia, the area now known as the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia (FYRM), became part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (formally named Yugoslavia in 1929), being widely referred to as ‘South Serbia’. In the Second World War, however, the Bulgarian occupation of 1941–44 disillusioned many Yugoslav Macedonians. From 1943 the Partisans of Josip Broz (Tito), the General-Secretary of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, began to increase their support in the region, and after the war the new Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia and its communist rulers resolved to include a Macedonian nation as a federal partner (having rejected the idea of a united Macedonia under Bulgarian rule). A distinct Macedonian identity was promoted, and a linguistic policy that encouraged the establishment of a Macedonian literary language distinct from Bulgarian increased Macedonian self-awareness.

The presence of a large ethnic Albanian minority in western Macedonia added to Macedonian insecurities. The proximity of the neighbouring Serbian province of Kosovo, which had a majority ethnic Albanian population, and demands, from the late 1960s, for the creation of an Albanian republic within Yugoslavia, alarmed the Macedonian authorities, which became particularly active against Albanian nationalism from 1981. In 1989 the communists amended the republican Constitution to allow for the introduction of a multi-party system; however, Macedonia was declared to be a nation state of the ethnic Macedonians, and mention of the Albanian and Turkish minorities was excluded.

In November and December 1990 the first multi-party elections to a unicameral republican Sobranie (Assembly) were held in Macedonia. The Front for Macedonian National Unity, which principally comprised a nationalist party, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization—Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (IMRO—DPMNU), led by Ljubčo Georgievski, and which had previously declared its support for the return of territories within Serbia, alleged irregularities after failing to win any seats at the first round. Following two further rounds of voting, however, the IMRO—DPMNU unexpectedly emerged as the single party with the most seats (37) in the 120-member Sobranie. The League of Communists of Macedonia—Party for Democratic Reform (LCM—PDR, as the League of Communists of Macedonia had renamed itself), led by Petar Gosev, won 31 seats and the two predominantly Albanian parties (the Party for Democratic Prosperity—PDP—and the People’s Democratic Party) a total of 25. The republican branch of the federal Alliance of Reform Forces (ARF, subsequently the Liberal Party of Macedonia—LPM) won 19 seats. Following lengthy coalition negotiations, in January 1991 Kiro Gligorov of the LCM—PDR was elected President of the Republic, with Georgievski as Vice-President; Stojan Andov of the ARF was elected President of the Sobranie. The three parties agreed to support a government largely comprising members without political affiliation. In March the Sobranie approved a new administration, headed by Nikola Kljušev. The LCM—PDR was renamed the Social Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDAM) in April.

On 25 January 1991 the Sobranie unanimously adopted a motion declaring the republic a sovereign territory. After June declarations of Croatian and Slovenian ‘dissociation’, Macedonia, wary of Serbian domination of the remaining federal institutions, declared its neutrality and emphasized its sovereign status. On 8 September a referendum (boycotted by the ethnic Albanian population) approved the sovereignty of Macedonia.

Georgievski resigned the vice-presidency in October 1991, and the IMRO—DPMNU announced that it had joined the opposition, stating that the party had been excluded from the decision-making process. The preparation of the new Constitution was delayed by the IMRO—DPMNU’s proposal for an introductory nationalist statement, which was strongly opposed by the predominantly ethnic Albanian parties and was finally abandoned. On 17 November the Constitution, which declared the sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia, was endorsed by 96 of the 120 Assembly members, with opposition from the majority of ethnic Albanian deputies. In January 1992 an unofficial referendum conducted among the ethnic Albanian population (declared illegal by the Macedonian authorities) reportedly resulted in 99.9% of votes being cast in favour of territorial and political autonomy for the ethnic Albanian population.

The complete withdrawal of federal troops from Macedonia in March 1992, in conjunction with the adoption in April of a new Constitution in Yugoslavia, referring only to Serbia and Montenegro, effectively signalled Yugoslav acceptance of Macedonian secession from the federation.

Sources:

Inter-Parliamentary Union: PARLINE database on national parliaments

Historical Context ((The former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia), in Europa World online. London, Routledge. University of Bergen. Retrieved 31 May 2011 from http://www.europaworld.com/entry/mk.is.12646948771