Symbolic nationalism was encouraged during the Tito period despite the commitment to federalism. The Macedonian language was codified, and the Macedonian Orthodox Church was restored in 1967.
Tito also used the Macedonian issue as a weapon of foreign policy when needed, contrasting the "free" expression of Macedonian identity in Yugoslavia with its denial in Bulgaria and Greece.
Macedonia dependent on Yugoslavia and Serbia
Within federal Yugoslavia, Macedonians fared well, though the republic was seen as a backwater. In economic and cultural terms, it was dependent on its large neighbor, Serbia. A common concern of the two was a growing Albanian minority, where Macedonia's western areas resembled Serbia's Kosovo.
Between 1951 and 1981, Albanian cultural rights in Macedonia steadily improved. After demonstrations in Pristina (Kosovo) in 1981, the Macedonian authorities followed the Serbian lead in taking repressive measures against the Albanian minority. As elsewhere, adversity strengthened the will and resolve of Macedonia's Albanians, many of whose leaders had been educated in Pristina.
Divisions in Macedonian politics
The 1990 elections were won by a new nationalist coalition headed by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE), (named after the 1893 revolutionary organization), which took 37 seats. The former League of Communists (KPM) won 30 seats, while a pro-Yugoslav coalition around Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic's Union of Reform Forces won 17 seats.
Macedonia's Albanians largely voted for Albanian ethnic parties, the largest being the Party for Democratic Prosperity, which won 24 seats.
Parliament chose Kiro Gligorov, a prominent figure from the League of Communists, as President. As Yugoslavia approached collapse, Gligorov worked with other Republic presidents to find a solution in the form of an asymmetrical federation.
Macedonia's representative to the collective presidency, Vasil Tupurkovski, also followed the same agenda, trying to produce a compromise.