In the midst of the wire taping affair that showed the real face of the authoritarian and corrupt governing elite in Macedonia, it remains challenging to understand why there is lack of any bigger public dissatisfaction and a large number of citizens still appear to believe the ruling elite’s side of the story. Some of the reasons can definitely be found in the clientelistic system of ‘carrot and stick’ which forces many people to support the ruling party, as a guarantor of their existence and well-being. Additionally, the restricted access to objective information in a sphere dominated by pro-government media outlets, which was already elaborated on in the assembly on media (non-)freedom, also contributes to this. Equally importantly, some of the reasons for the still present support can be found in the symbolic elements of the Macedonian authoritarian populism employed by the ruling party VMRO-DMPNE.
To that end, this assembly discusses several different social constructs that are complementary to each other and jointly contribute to the creation of the populist myth around VMRO–DMPNE and its leader Nikola Gruevski. The five presented analyses focus on the manipulations with the narrative, self-identification, history, gender and the fear of enemies that generate inert and uncritical electorate with collectivist and illiberal attitudes that seriously undermine the core values of liberal democracy:
- The rule of the people and (non-)democracy in populist discourse – Ljupcho Petkovski
- Narrative control of the public discourse: Identification as a means for populism – Misha Popovikj
- “Historical injustice” as a tool in the hands of the populist and authoritarian government: Souvenirs from the myth-making museum dungeons – Darko Stojanov
- Women in Macedonian macho–populism – Ana Vasileva
- “Enemies” as fundamentals of the Macedonian populism – Borjan Gjuzelov
Assembly co-ordinator: Borjan Gjuzelov