As expected, the end of the world predictions did not come true; as expected, a dictatorship has been officially established in Macedonia, and the ruling legislators, who were panicking that the budget blockade will make them as destitute as their citizens, will now be able to "peacefully" splurge their money, uninterruptedly.
Dictatorship occurs when the people in the power, failing to solve problems lawfully, break and put the law and the democratic institutions aside. Dictatorship is autocratic political regime that is on the other end of democracy; a rule that leaves no room for formal democracy, nor for control and replacement of the ruling legislators who exercise power on behalf of the citizens.
These definitions are usually learnt in primary school. This Monday, the ones skipping classes had an exclusive chance to learn about establishing dictatorship in live in Macedonia on the streets of Skopje and through their TV monitors. Violations of the Constitution, as well as disobeyance of laws are no news in the country; however, this Monday, the exercise of force and police brutality has marked the official introduction of a dictatorship.
Treated as criminals, the opposition legislators, rightfully elected by the people, have been forcefully evicted from the Parliament. Well, it serves them right for daring to stand in the way of those in power to do as they wish, now as well as a long years back. Determined to enact the budget at any cost, on a pre-arranged and announced scenario, the ruling majority threw out the journalist by use of force. They were prevented from witnessing the police brutality exercised on the opposition, and not allowed to disturb the "ceremony" of the budget enactment, followed with applause. Whom were the deputies applauding to? Themselves? For their "dignity" to establish a dictatorship? The people that they are so frequently referring to, will most certainly not applaud on breaching of the Constitution and the laws.
Far from applause is the behavior of both the ruling and the opposition party for the abuse of the "happening of the people" scenario that marks the most obscure days of Slobodan Miloshevic dictatorship. "Individual organisation" of the governing majority supporters against the opposition: protests, counter-protests, people against people. For what? On whose behalf? The people they so comfortably divide and set against each other during those protests will certainly not benefit from those events. Manipulation with the sorrows and poverty of people only shows the lack of real power of the ruling majority and the opposition.
The events surrounding the budget enactment are merely a confirmation of the chaotic situation in the country. Divisions on all counts, mainly imposed or conscientiously designed, ever increasing poverty, both financial and spiritual, suspension on the democracy and people's fundamental rights and freedoms. Were these "values" being defended with those counter- protests and rallies? Particularly, if in the forefront is the personal "clash" between the leaders of the ruling party and the opposition. What type of politicians drag people in their personal fights and allow the country, its people and their future be kept hostage to vanities and sheer power struggle?
The key question is why was so important to enact the budget, particularly if that required dictatorship. By preventing the vote of the budget, the opposition was trying to pull the plug of the irresponsible splurge of money; on the other hand the government was in panic, on the brinks of hysteria, as never before. It acted as the end of the world is just around the corner. This blockade could have shaken terribly the position of the government; government that has been spending more than it has for years now, has been living in debt, and has portion of the upcoming year's budget already spent. The alleged successes and ratings is nothing more than a house of cards that can fall apart in a heartbeat. Left without money, the government will become destitute, just as its people, and finally share their destiny. Left without a budget, a budget that hides many secrets; without new debts and credits, one cannot stay in power. At least, not for long.
Adoption of the budget by breaching the Constitution and the legal procedure is the worst option for Macedonia. Much, much worse than the country getting into the new year without an approved budget. By using force to enact the budget, the government only showed that it takes care only for itself and its own position. The stability of the country and more importantly, its reputation in the world came second. How many steps behind does that place Macedonia in the EU integration?
In the aftermath of the forced budget approval, nothing is ever going to be the same in Macedonia. The dictatorship is the beginning of the end for this governing majority. Every dictatorship has seen its end. The Arab spring is turning into "Balkans" fall/winter. Croatia is prosecuting the unquestioned Prime Minister Sanader. Serbia started the battle against business magnates and political sponsors. Paroles "He is finished" are all around Slovenia to display dissatisfaction with their Prime Minister Janša. Skopje is swarmed with graffiti "Up to here with Grujo". So far, his faithful supoorters are managing to paint them over. At least for now.
(The column has been published by the independent daily paper Focus on 25 December 2012)