VMRO-DPMNE proposed a bill that would limit members of the Macedonian Parliament to having only one citizenship – that of the Republic of Macedonia. The move comes after a fake news attack from Bulgarian nationalist politician Krasimir Karakacanov yesterday, who alleged that a number of VMRO-DPMNE members of Parliament have secretly acquired dual Bulgarian citizenships. Karakacanov’s move seemed coordinated with Zoran Zaev’s SDSM party, which jumped on the ambiguously phrased comment from Karakacanov and used its PR machinery to advance the story, as Zaev himself faces several major corruption scandals – one of them including the critical vaccine procurement process.

Several hours after his initial comment, Karakacanov clarified that he made the post in jest, but by then SDSM had ran with the story for several hours, doing its best to distract the public from the corruption revelations.

The proposed bill, signed by the entire VMRO-DPMNE group in Parliament, would add the citizenship requirement on the top of the list of requirements for becoming a member of Parliament.

While convenient for travelling to EU member states and especially for accessing the EU labour market, taking out a Bulgarian citizenship carries a stigma – since Bulgaria has insisted that it will fast-track applications for Macedonian citizens but if they declare that they have “Bulgarian origin”. Poor people unhappy with their opportunities in Macedonia have taken this route, using the Bulgarian passport to go and work in EU member states, but few politicians have chosen to do so. Stunts like this by Karakacanov are making it even less likely that politically ambitious Macedonian citizens will acquire dual Bulgarian citizenship. A notable exception is former Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, who sought protection in the Bulgarian citizenship from the persecution campaign the Branko Crvenkovski Government instigated against him.

The proposal is likely to be opposed by ethnic Albanian parties, given the widespread practice of issuing dual citizenships between Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania.