Well, that was unexpected.
Just a couple of months ago, I noted that Macedonia’s PM Gruevski was the most popular head of government in the Balkan region. Well, his government just collapsed. The Albanian party — his coalition partner — has pulled out, leaving him without a majority.
Here’s a brief primer on Macedonian politics. Somewhere between 25% and 35% of the population is ethnic Albanians. The majority Slav Macedonians used to treat them pretty badly… not as badly as the Serbs in Kosovo, but they were definitely second class citizens. So, in the wake of the Kosovo war, Macedonia developed its own Albanian separatist movement. This led to a brief near-civil war in 2001-2. To everyone’s surprise, this was resolved by the 2002 Ohrid Agreement, which mandated power-sharing between the two groups.
Then Macedonia had a stroke of luck: the Albanian minority split into two parties. This meant there wasn’t a single “Albanian party” claiming to speak for a third of the country. That’s good, because it would have been really hard to accommodate such a party in government, but impossible to leave it outside. In every government since 2002, the two Albanian parties have taken turns — there’s always one in coalition with an ethnic Macedonian party and the other in opposition.
But now the Albanians are pulling out. Why? Well, they say that they made a bunch of demands of the government, and these demands weren’t met. What’s interesting (and worrisome) is that all these demands were Albanian-centric. Continue reading