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Wednesday, 12 November 2014 00:00

The Opportunities for Young Roma as Leaders of Roma Political Parties in the Republic of Macedonia

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When we search for an adequate explanation about politics, there are various definitions from different historical periods. Up to the 19th century, the philosophers defined it as a skill for governance, which was related to warfare, conquest and superiority of nations[1]. The modern definition of politics started in the 20th century, and it was directed towards the institutional governance and maintenance of law and order in the state.[2] The different types of political regimes and ideologies influenced the understanding and definition of politics and political processes. Throughout the history of social development, a division of ideals and political persuasion appears. Organized groups of like-minded people about the political processes, governance and understanding of society are institutionalized in political parties.

According to Schreyer и Schwarzmeier parties’ development depends on the structure of the membership in the electoral districts, social structure, organizational structure, goals of the party, ideologies, access to the political system and access to governance[3]. This division in the democratic system of governance, as the most effective way of ruling, improves parties’ profiles so that they would compete for the citizens’ trust. Political parties use different methods in order to gain voters’ trust and to represent their interests.

Since the independence of the country, non-Roma political parties observed the decision making and attempted to influence the progress of Macedonia. In the country, Macedonian parties create power in coalition with the Albanian parties, or they join the opposition[4]. According to the above-mentioned classification of parties, it can be indicated that Macedonian and Albanian parties vary in their ideologies, structures, access to the political system and the social structure, which makes the political arena better in quality for options and more competent. The ideological parties in both blocks have the greatest and most continuous impact of the electorate.

In the process of democratization, Roma in the country got a right to participate in the political advancement of the state since the independence of the Republic of Macedonia. As a community, Roma were represented by a political party which over the years fragmented into new political entities. Still, there are also new Roma political parties emerging with new leaders[5]. In an attempt to define the political parties in Macedonia, Roma political parties are defined as ethnic-based (interest-based) parties with the primary purpose to promote the ideals and values ​​of the community with traditional leadership, which aims to be in a coalition with the majoritarian (governing) parties. The utilization of the capacity of young Roma people is a long-term and a sustainable plan for Roma parties to remain competitive and persistent entities in the political arena of the state, generating new leaders and a permanent structure.


The participation of youth in the political parties in Macedonia

Throughout the history of civilization, the youth has always represented hope for the survival and future of society as a key factor for improving the stability and existence. The future of society is considered to be the most dependent on the future generations that overtake the role of the elders. [6] But some philosophers do not share the same opinion and critically comment on future generations in the society, arguing that if young people are not prepared to take the role of the elders and do not show more knowledge and skills for the new challenges, then a major threat occurs in the continuation of the already started processes and they might fail in what the society requires of them. In a democratic society, the young people are expected to take the values ​​and traditional democratic practices in order to participate with the older generations in the maintenance of the democratic processes. The youth in a democracy is a pillar for regeneration of the civic and social values.

In “The Republic” [7], Plato argues that the success of the state also depends on the education of the young people aiming to implement the adequate system in the state, which does not have to be a democracy. In “Politics” [8], Aristotle points out the importance of human behavior in politics and the politics as part of human behavior, highlighting good examples of the human behaviors and policies. Democracy, as a regime, encourages the participation of the people by including young people to participate or influence in decision-making processes.

Political parties often involve young people in youth activities or youth organizations where they practice political skills and enhance the vision of the political party. Youth organizations play a significant role in the creativity and innovations of the parties in their decisions on youth policies and the impact of future policies on youth. Political parties also include the youth in academies for political skills where they practice the values of ​​the ideologies or the profile of the political party. The academies strengthen the democratic capabilities and capacities in using the management tools of democracy. Furthermore, the academies aim to generate new leaders who will be prepared for future political engagement. Majority of the parties in the Republic of Macedonia successfully implement their political academies (schools) and promote their ideology with new capacities in their parties. The political academy of Social Democracy [9] supported by Friedrich Ebert Foundation supports social democratic values. This academy has an aim to educate future generations of the parties about politics, democracy and governance that are left wing. The political academy for Demo-Christian and Conservative ideology [10] sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Pavel Shatev Institute also promotes traditional and rightist values ​​and politically educates future generations of the ideology, democracy and governance in the Republic of Macedonia.

Current political elite encourage the youngsters with building teams of experts that will recommend (or advice) a politician in the parliament or a minister in the government. This incentive provides space and motivation for the youth and it plays a crucial role in the practice of democratic values and high political culture of the next cadres[11][12]. Throughout the years of independence leaders in mainstream parties changed and generations from the little expert teams became current politicians or analysts.


Participation of young Roma in Roma political parties in the Republic of Macedonia

Throughout the years after the independence of Macedonia, Roma in the country were represented by multiple parties. Roma political parties are represented as ethnically based parties in the political system of Macedonia, and their aims should be concentrated in the needs of the electorate i.e. the community. The multiparty system in the country has encouraged Roma leaders to exercise their democratic skills in the political arena and also the people to elect who will represent their interests. Ethnically based parties have more freedom in defining their goals and priorities because the electorate creates the direction of the party, and the leaders are spokesmen of their priorities. The fragmentation and the creation of new Roma political parties, besides the division of the electorate, also caused a division of interests and priorities. Besides their congresses that take place once a year (and some parties do not organize at all), the youth organizations that are active before the elections and their rallies, the Roma political parties do not show other activities to win the interest of the citizens. It can be emphasized that traditional leaders in Macedonia know the recipe of success in elections and find a way to secure the desired function. After elections, the role and workload make leaders inaccessible for the interests and the needs of the voters. The lack of proper analysis and research on the work of the Roma political parties and their youth organizations, programs, structures, ideologies and statutes reduces the interest in voters, especially in young voters who are not involved in decision-making processes or influencing parties’ decisions.

Young Roma are limited in their political activities and actions due to the party’s indifference to restore and maintain the political capacity. The Roma political parties control the ambitions of young Roma, who should take over the role of leaders in the Republic of Macedonia. The principles of the Ohrid Framework Agreement inadvertently “authorized” Roma political parties to govern the capacities and to be the largest “employer” of the perspective young Roma. Thereby, Roma political parties employ young Roma, who must obey the decisions of the leader of the party that employed them in public administration.

Due to the fear of the 29.9% unemployment in the country [13], young Roma accept the offer of the parties to be employed as civil servants and in return for the parties, they participate in election campaigns in their propaganda. The creativity and innovation of the Roma parties is determined only by the leader, the coalition partner from the majoritarian parties is determined by the leader of the Roma parties, the coalition interests and priorities are determined by the leader of the majoritarian parties. Then young Roma in the youth organizations are required as a mechanism for campaigns and a generator of votes for the Roma political parties with the hope for employment in the public administration as a civil servant. The traditional leadership of the Roma political parties in the state created a monopoly of voters who vote because they have to and not because they want to. Since the independence of the country, the Roma parties “successfully” build coalitions with the majoritarian parties and were present in decision-making processes as shadow participants. Throughout the years, new capacities and new parties developed that offered the same formula.

Young Roma leaders do not have the opportunity to follow good behavior examples in politics and to understand the cause of the politics for Roma as a human behavior. The Roma political parties forget the academies as a potential generator of new leaders in the parties, where young Roma would have the opportunity to practice democratic values, to debate the political program of the party, to influence the decisions from a higher rank and to present this transparently. Roma leaders tend to have less members in a team, they practice top to bottom approach, where he decides, and everybody else follows. Promotion of cadres is nearly impossible and cadres are not encouraged to initiate or implement any action without previous consent with the leader. The current Roma political elite can only understand the investment of the sustainability and the success of their parties only if they establish space for promotion of cadres, work in teams and have a tradition of academies where new generations will lead the change we want to see.



Politics is a necessary element in the society for maintaining the social harmony in the country while the youth represents the hope for the continuation, maintenance or modification of the already ongoing processes in the society. The maintenance of social harmony in the state is created by the political parties, especially those participating in parliament. Political parties also aim to represent the interests and needs of the voters who opted for the given political option. Political parties in the direction of a long term plan have to to maintain the continuity of their influence and power, invest in the new generations of young people who would be willing to continue the political processes in the same parties. While the majoritarian political parties in the Republic of Macedonia nurture a mechanism of creating and maintaining of a new capacity in their political structures through: political academies, youth organizations, scholarships for successful students with tendencies for a political engagement, the Roma parties are lost in the political space and often challenged by voters about their ideological preferences and program activities which should be presented to the voters in a transparent and visible way. The undefined values ​​and interests of the Roma political parties in the Republic of Macedonia is the biggest burden in the past years from which they cannot get rid of. The political culture of the majority allows underestimation and ignorance of the democratic fouls on the overall operations in the country because the Roma political bloc is a part of that milieu. The political culture of the Roma allows a level of understanding the policy and identification of the Roma political parties as part of a coalition that has a small impact on state’s “high” politics, and therefore the voters expect little results that would saturate the needs of the “most active in the propaganda, posting the election posters“. Traditional Roma leaders need to be ready to meet the demands of the new generations of young Roma who are ready to advance their political skills and to get politically engaged in the future in order to generate a new capacity that will be competent to compete for the citizens’ confidence by practicing democratic values. However, the rudimentary Machiavellianism remains a present feature of the Roma political bloc, explaining the ambitious politicians as leaders who firstly secure their position and then begin to eliminate all competitors for the leadership position.


[1] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[2] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[3] Schreyer, Bernhard; Schwarzmeier, Manfred, (2000) “Grundkurs Politikwissenschaft: Studium der politischen Systeme – Eine studienorientierte Einführung”, VS Verlag fur Sozialwissenschaften

[4] Daskalovski, Zidas, (2006) “Between the political convenience and equal opportunities” Association for Democratic Initiatives, pages  45 – 56

[5] More information on: (last accessed on July 27. 2013)

[6] Utter, H., Glenn (2011) “Youth and political participation”, ABC-Clio, LLC

[7] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[8] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[9] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[10] (last accessed on July 27. 2013)

[11] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[12] More information on: (last accessed on July 27, 2013)

[13] State Statistical Office, (2013) “Active population in the Republic of Macedonia Poll Results for Labour Force” I quarter of 2013

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