If the fight between national sovereignty and global governance is the story of these times, the referendum in Macedonia was really one of the starkest, even if small battlegrounds. The ultimatum before Macedonia was to completely give up its sovereignty and accept interference deep in internal affairs such as the name of its country, nation, language, understanding of history, tradition and culture. This was accompanied by threats of war, political and economic isolation and by dozens of staged court trials against leading opponents of the deal, while a litany of powerful politicians led by Angela Merkel crowded the Skopje airport to remind us to vote, or else.
It was impressive then when merely 36 percent of Macedonians got out to vote (and that only after late evening ballot stuffing in Albanian areas). As in other countries, only the urban, post national parts of Skopje and ethnic minority areas voted in favor of the ultimatum. Across huge swathes of the country the silent majority, the “normals” stayed at home, roasting peppers for ajvar (which is subject to another naming dispute with Slovenia).
The leftist Government, put and kept in place by foreign politicians, will not give up lightly – they are openly talking about forcing members of Parliament from the conservative VMRO party to vote for the renaming package even after it was rejected by the public. It’s possible the EU will force us to vote again, until we get it right. They are doing it to much larger countries like Britain, after all. But, at least for now, the victory is with the little people.