|06-01-2012, 01:13 AM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2009
The Curious Case of the Macedonian Parliamentary Elections Abroad
The Curious Case of the Macedonian Parliamentary Elections Abroad
Igor Siljanoski - 6/22/2011
PART 1: Who are the Macedonians Abroad?
Recently, Macedonian citizens living abroad had a chance to vote for the first time in their small nationís general elections. According to many of their statements in the Macedonian media the chance for meaningful participation was illusive as were their hopes for a true representation.
What failed? To begin with, the preparation for the vote abroad by the Republic of Macedonia (RoM) was abysmal. For tiny Macedonia, an early parliamentary election was probably not the best choice to allow voting of Macedonians in all corners of the world. For that matter, it would have been much more practical to open the election to expatriates at the next regular elections and allow for a more robust preparation. One of the reasons such a vote is impractical is the sheer number of Macedonian Citizens and their diversity. The huge numbers mean they could not be properly registered for the vote in time. However, it is the diversity of the electorate that is a more nuanced challenge. Macedonians abroad are far from being a single coherent group. In many cases, the only common factor is their right to a Macedonian citizenship.
A slew of easily identified obstacles complicated the vote further. Macedonians residing abroad often donít have documents ready to confirm their citizenship; most donít possess a Macedonian passport and would be hard pressed to identify the process for obtaining the needed documents for a passport.
Given the last minute information blitz it is amazing that so many actually registered to vote. The passport issue (lack of Macedonian passport holders) is an underappreciated and poorly understood reality. The simple act of getting a passport was over the years a difficult task outside of Macedonia. Tied to this issue is the scattered place of residence of Macedonians and the lack of government resources to reach them through embassies and consulates, the only legitimate places where they would obtain documents and ultimately vote.
Squaring an election on these elusive, undocumented and scattered Macedonians seems a recipe for dismal results and wasted resources. There is no capacity to implement the elections if you base it on nothing but the will of the citizens to register and vote. To add to the futility of the whole situation is the lack of motivation of the Macedonians abroad to vote in an election that has very little to do with them and has no immediate or personal effect on their life and livelihood. Knowing that this was the premise; that the election was done for them to have a voice; it is important to ask first who these Macedonians are.
One can differentiate between several different groups of Macedonian immigrants. This division is not scientific or even empirical, only intuitive.
One of the two main groups that is growing by the year is the disenfranchised group of Macedonians. Macedonia has lost this group for good. These are mostly children of Macedonian immigrants who were born abroad and who are often not aware of their right to a Macedonian citizenship and whose national loyalty is elsewhere. They consider themselves Canadian, American, Australian etc. first and of Macedonian decent a distant second. To this group we must add those who have lost or abandoned their roots and their Macedonian identity altogether.
Many in this group, sadly, were assimilated in Macedonia or abroad into a different culture. Often this is the culture of the host country or that of the Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian and other immigrant communities either in the Balkans or abroad. Then there are those that are disappointed by their association or belonging to the Macedonian nation. Although their identity is intact they have no desire to participate in the Macedonian community, let alone in the Macedonian state affairs. This may be the biggest group of Macedonians abroad.
The second group of Macedonians are the true red and yellow, flag carrying, community active Macedonians who live as Macedonians abroad and whose second citizenship is only a practical convenience. If you ask for their nationality they are Macedonian. They do not identify themselves as nationals of the countries they reside in except at the passport control booth at the airport. They have a Macedonian culture, albeit often a very different one than the inhabitants of the Macedonian republic.
Despite the fact that their vote is largely inconsequential to their lives, they could be the most likely new voters in subsequent Macedonian elections. They, of course would have to be handed a passport, driven to a voting booth and likely educated about the ballot and their choices by experts at great expense to the Macedonian state.
Among them are passionate nationalists who wear Macedonia on their sleeves and on their bumper stickers and their clothing and seek to be recognized as such. They attend rallies and attend meetings, picnics and other gatherings of Macedonians. Some of the nationalists were the very voters in the first worldwide Macedonian election. These are the people that went to register to vote and drove great distances on a Saturday to cast their vote. What they actually wanted with their vote, other than to support their country, is a matter of a debate that is yet to unfold.
Among the second group are also the mainstream or typical Macedonian immigrants. They care about Macedonia but are not going to go out of their way to be activists or likely voters in a Macedonian elections unless there is a convenient way to make the time and effort or if there is a compelling election issue that is of interest to them personally.
A great number of the second group have visited or would visit Macedonia at some point and genuinely love the country or are connected to it by having relatives and friends back in RoM. Like the first group they will likely never return to Macedonia permanently as their lives are too integrated into their new countries. Their children are growing up or have grown up abroad and they will stay with them no matter what.
There are two other groups worth mentioning in this possible division of Macedonians. One is the small group of Macedonian intellectuals who associate with Macedonia and who have some intellectual, political or other similar interest in the Macedonian state. There may be even those who are in the first group that could be drawn by their curiosity or professional interest to the Macedonian cause. They present themselves as the silent supporters of Macedonia who either have tried to help the state in its international affairs or in the economic sphere either as people of influence in their country of residence, as advisers to Macedonians or as investors. The experience by these Macedonians has been mixed at best. They are still likely to seek to help in the future, having the knowledge of the importance of participation in Macedonian affairs. These are the people that have to be identified and courted by the Macedonian state at every step. To the extent that they are not assessed as threats by the Macedonian elites in the republic they are often being marginalized as either uninformed of the new Macedonian realities or, if from other continents, dismissed for their naive or amateurish approach to Macedonia, which is after all a sophisticated European state that is too complex and too advanced for their overseas sensibilities. A more advanced Macedonian state will learn to identify these Macedonians and will try to reach out, recruit their services and otherwise make up for the past mistakes when Macedonian intellectual capital was discarded in pursuit of personal gain at home. Their altruistic tendencies will have to await the next Macedonian awakening.
The last group is the emotional undercurrent of largely more recent immigrants. They are the Pollyannas of the bunch. They are abroad by mistake or marriage or an unpleasant reality. They escaped or abandoned Macedonia but have never really left at heart. The world of many recent immigrants that were desperately trying to leave Macedonia and finally left for greener destinations is littered with tears. Some of them would live on bread and water just to breathe the Macedonian air again. The Macedonian forests and lakes are in their dreams and hopes. They wake up every morning unhappy and homesick. These are people that donít have to vote as they do not wish to run Macedonian affairs; they only wish to be in their own country again. There is a Macedonian novel that is yet to be written by one of these unfortunate souls that would become a must read for those who are now full of false impressions and living to escape one day a republic whose reality in their estimate is so grim they can no longer bear it. Yet, many will find themselves in exactly this category.
The categories are not exclusive. There is an element of the last group in each one of us who are abroad and element of the first group as well. Elections are about running the state and representation affecting everyday life of ordinary people. They are about a semblance of civility in a truly corrupt reality. This is universal. There is only a degree of difference between countries. To attach such heartless endeavor to a group of scattered, distracted and disorganized groups of Macedonians who often approach their homeland with high emotions rather than practical interest is to confuse the purpose of the elections. Why then hold elections abroad?
(to be continued)
Igor Siljanoski is a policy professional working and residing in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. His previous experience was in the public sector as an economist, economic development consultant and business and financial planner. Igor is lecturing macroeconomics at the St. Clair College of applied arts and science in Windsor, Ontario. Igor holds Masters Degree in Political Science and Honours Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of Windsor, Canada. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
|06-01-2012, 01:29 AM||#2|
Join Date: Sep 2008
George, do you have a link for this?
The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations...This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution. John Adams
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
|06-01-2012, 02:19 AM||#3|
Join Date: May 2010
So far, i have convinced 7 others to do the same, and i urge all Macedonians in Australia, US, Canada and other countries to do the same.
|Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)|