Immoral morality: gender and sexuality politics, right-wing populism and church-state relations in Macedonia under Nikola Gruevski (2006–2016

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Jan Beyer
Routledge - Taylor & Francis Group
European Politics and Society


Recently we have witnessed ferocious attacks on gender and sexuality across Eastern Europe. Governments headed by right-wing populist parties have taken a particularly prominent role in the backlash against progressive gender norms. By studying how one of these right-wing populist governments, the administration of Nikola Gruevski in Macedonia, came to embrace regressive gender and sexuality policies, this article shows the following. Firstly, it illustrates how right-wing populism provides ideas and discursive mechanisms for the legitimization of attacks on progressive gender legislation. Secondly, it depicts how, in the Macedonian case, the embrace of these illiberal ideas and discourses was a part of a wider strategy to re-shape church-state relations. The article examines how the government and the church not only converged in their rhetoric concerning gender and sexuality politics but how both entities increasingly fostered an exchange of mobilization and political resources. Finally, by outlining avenues for future research, it delineates how parts of the Macedonian experience might hold lessons for Eastern Europe at large.