Centre working for smooth elections in Macedonia

21/01/2013

One of the terms of the Macedonia's opposition is for early parliamentary elections to be held with credibility and legitimacy, and the support of all relevant parties in the parliament.

By Miki Trajkovski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 21/01/13

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Macedonia's SDSM opposition and its leader, Branko Crvenkovski, are protesting government measures for the upcoming local elections. [Tomislav Georgiev/SETimes]

An organisation in Skopje is working on a project to insure smooth elections in Macedonia this year, despite a contentious political environment that includes the opposition party promising to boycott the March 24th election.

Civil -- Centre for Freedom in Skopje started implementing the so-called Free and Non-Violent Elections 2013 project, with a campaign to strengthen public awareness of the electoral culture, prevention of irregularities, violence, and armed violence during the election and post-election, considering the current political crisis in Macedonia that culminated in the December events in the parliament.

The centre will work with NGOs, media, police and other institutions at the central and local levels, political parties and their youth activists, to strengthen the political culture.

Jabir Deralla, director of the centre, thinks that the upcoming elections will be far from peaceful, but expects positive outcome from the project.

"After the events in the parliament these elections will be far from peaceful. With our pressure and help of international organisations, we can mitigate the consequences of this political erosion. If the parties are planning one thing and do another, then I'm afraid there is no way to prevent serious irregularities," Deralla told SETimes.

The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia announced it would not participate in parliament until there is a positive working climate, and their conditions are met. Otherwise, SDSM will not take part in the elections.

One of the terms of the Macedonia's opposition is for early parliamentary elections to be held with credibility and legitimacy, and the support of all relevant parties in the parliament.

The opposition demands that the ministries of justice, interior, and finance, and the Public Service Macedonian Radio Television be run by confidential persons, with an established credibility, amendments to the electoral law that would incorporate the OSCE/OIDHR recommendations, and a cleanup of voters' lists.

The ruling VMRO-DPMNE party rejected the opposition's demands. Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said the elections will be free, fair, and democratic, with an enhanced monitoring from all sides.

Vladimir Bozinovski, professor at the Skopje faculty of political science, also thinks the elections will be fair and democratic, with or without SDSM.

"This situation suits only SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski, so as not to be taken down as the chairman of the party at the SDSM congress in May. I expect that to create tensions in the SDSM, among those mayors who have a chance to win the election. But the opposition is not only SDSM, other opposition parties will also go to local elections," Bozinovski said.

Darko Aleksovski, from the NGO MOST, whose observers participate in all elections, said that irregularities can be overcome only with a political will to implement free and fair elections.

"The first multi-party elections in the 1990s were one of the most peaceful in Macedonia, because the citizens, for the first time, were able to vote freely, make meaningful choices and have more political options. Free and fair elections depend on the willingness of political actors in the electoral process. The government has the greatest responsibility here, but also the opposition in creating an overall election atmosphere," Aleksovski told SETimes.

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Deralla thinks it important that all political parties participate in Macedonia's elections.

"If SDSM does not participate in the elections, we'll have incomplete elections. So an entire political option will not be part of the political game and competition," said Deralla.

Sefer Tahiri, professor of communication at Tetovo South East European University, said that the SDSM boycott and VMRO-DPMNE rejection of their conditions is deepening the political crisis in Macedonia.

"The decision to boycott [elections] is not exactly the best one; that way conditions are created for total dictatorship in the country. The opposition should reconsider boycotting the local elections. If the opposition really wants reliable elections, 42 opposition MPs can resign from their mandates and that way cause legal and legitimate early parliamentary elections," Tahiri said.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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