Enabling Environments for Civic Movements and the Dynamics of Democratic Transition - Macedonia

Period of democratic transition: 1990–1991
Pro-democracy civic movement: not present

The six constituent republics in the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia were Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, all ruled by Communist Josip Broz Tito from 1943 to 1980. Following Tito's death in 1980, a rotating collective presidency governed while nationalistic and ethnic tensions intensified within the six republics. The Yugoslav political system struggled through the 1980s with weak leaders and no civil movement. After the collapse of communism in 1989–1990, the republics began to break apart and claim independence.

Federal prime minister Ante Markovic, selected in 1989, pushed for new laws that would allow for national, multiparty elections in 1990. When the League of Communists of Yugoslavia began to break up in 1990, the Macedonian branch transformed into the Social-Democratic League and initiated democratic reforms, including the acceptance of an emerging civil society and the adoption of laws and constitutional amendments that guaranteed universal suffrage and the right to form political organizations. A new generation of young Macedonian intellectuals, who had recently returned from exile and discovered the history of Macedonian nationalism, founded the Internal Macedonia Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) in 1990. In Macedonia's first free, multiparty elections on January 27, 1991, the VMRO-DPMNE won a slim majority of seats over the Social-Democratic League. On September 8, 1991, Macedonia proclaimed its independence in a general referendum. The new constitution was declared on November 17, 1991, and then in 1992, the new government negotiated an agreement with the Yugoslav army that led to a withdrawal. Macedonia thus became the only republic to gain independence legitimately and peacefully.

Although Macedonia was spared ethnic warfare, stability was threatened in the 1990s over the treatment of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. Despite continued ethnic conflict, the government remained stable, and in 2005 Macedonia was accepted as a formal candidate for European Union membership.

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