Stalled European Integration, the Primordialization of Nationalism, and Autocratization in Macedonia between 2008 and 2015
In recent years, a kind of democratic failure appeared in the previously successfully democratized region of post-communist Europe. Problems of democratic deficit, and the deterioration of democracy have been increasingly observed in countries that had earlier been considered ‘success stories’ of democratization. One such case is Macedonia, a country that managed to separate peacefully from Yugoslavia amidst bloody civil wars in the neighborhood and managed to democratize and sustain democracy. Although Macedonia exhibited problems of ethno-national contestations during the period of transition, its democratic development continued in spite of the brief inter-ethnic conflict in 2001. If this success story had continued as predicted, it could be cited as a positive example of how democracy can be consolidated despite ethno-national contestations. However, from 2008 Macedonia began regressing democratically, gradually slipping into competitive authoritarianism. This paper examines the process of autocratization in Macedonia through an analysis of how an exogenous shock enabled internal formative events in that the ruling regime headed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski commenced a process of primordialization of nationalism. This in turn produced a severe intra-Macedonian cleavage, along with further strains in Macedonia’s inter-ethnic relations, giving an opportunity to the ruling party with its chief Nikola Gruevski to capture state institutions and consolidate a competitive authoritarian regime.
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