Hungover Nationalists

It looks like a referendum to keep ethnic Albanians from enjoying any local autonomy in the Republic of Macedonia has failed. It’s a potentially very dangerous place and we can only hope that a decent modus vivendi can be secured after this setback for the anti-Albanian slavic nationalists.

I’m generally opposed to jiggering of jurisdictions and voting rules (and especially of civil rights) to recognize different ethnic, racial, or religious groups in law, but this case was primarily one of recognizing local control and competition among jurisdictions, as well as the right to speak one’s own language. (There is an extensive literature in political theory and law regarding such matters, much of it interesting: for a classical liberal view, see Chandran Kukathas’s The Liberal Archipelago: A Theory of Diversity and Freedom and for a modern “liberal” [i.e., social democratic] view, see Will Kymlicka’s Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights.)

The Macedonian government had encouraged people not to vote, in order to keep the participation below the 50% that would make the outcome binding. The BBC noted that after the official recognition by the U.S. government of Macedonia under the preferred name of the Republic of Macedonia (rather than FYROM, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia),

“By way of celebration, bars in the capital were allowed to stay open all night on Saturday – into referendum day.

But sceptical Macedonians believe it was motivated more by the belief that hungover people were simply less likely to vote come sunrise.”