The closer Macedonia is getting to the election date, the more dramatic the situation is becoming in the country. The situation is changing by the hour. The political game is focused in the parliament and the judiciary. The government and the politicized judiciary are trying in every way to keep the situation under control, so that no current or former government official is brought in front of justice, until the elections. In a constellation where the public is expecting immediate court decisions on the cases arising from the “wiretapping” scandal, speaking ironically of their fate, the citizens note that Macedonia is a country of “Ajvar justice”, since sanctions are imposed only for those making winter food supplies out in the open.
The leader of the opposition coalition Zoran Zaev, announced a fierce fight against the mafia, while the leader of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE Nikola Gruevski is promising an even better future, child day care centers, new jobs and higher pensions. These government measures increase the economic debt, alert the work of the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund and lead to economic erosion. According to the World Bank, Macedonia is last on the list in the region, with an economic growth of 2 percent…
Politicized judiciary just cannot “get going”
The Constitutional Court this week will be discussing the abolitions that President Gjorge Ivanov made but later withdrew, while the Special Prosecutor’s Office (SPO) is still not on the agenda. Special Prosecutor Katica Janeva with an explanation that she is under continuous mobbing, demonstratively left the session of the Council of Public Prosecutors, though continued with intensive work. The SPO announced the investigation of the newest case under the code name “Treasury”, under suspicion of an embezzlement of a total of 862.045 euros for the purchase of equipment from abroad for the needs of the Fifth Department of the Ministry of Interior (MOI). Three employees of the Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence and one from MOI are charged for the abuse, for which the SPO believes they embezzled state money for their own personal wealth.
The Criminal Court in Skopje returned the requests for determining precautionary measures for four suspects in the “Treasury” case back to the SPO. The evidence had been encoded and could not be opened. The former head of the Directorate for Security and Counterintelligence, Saso Mijalkov, claims that all of the allegations of the SPO had been completely fabricated and that this institution is an extended arm of SDSM.
The Colorful Revolution protested in support to the SPO. SDSM demanded an urgent meeting in regards to the draft law on amending the Law on Witness Protection, which the SPO is requesting, and on amending the law for extending the mandate of this Prosecution Office.
MOI prepares for elections
Minister of Interior Oliver Spasovski said that after December 11, there would not be any more room for “notebook judges”, but that justice will apply to all citizens, regardless of ethnic and religious affiliation. For implementation of credible elections, he removed 11 heads of police stations. He also announced depoliticization of the police and releasing the captivated “MVRO-VMRO”, referring to the Ministry of Interior, as former minister Gordana Jankuloska describes it in the bombs.
For his deputy, Oliver Andonov, instant-Minister in just 24 hours, these changes in the staff are “truly unprecedented and a rude depreciation of the legal system of the Ministry”, due to the unilateral signing of the decisions for deployment of 11 employees of the MOI.
European diplomats call for credible elections
The Report of the European Commission (EC) on Macedonia, which will be published on November 9, will not contain many words of praise. In the best case, Macedonia will receive the same formulation as last year – conditional recommendation on the start of accession negotiations.
According to European diplomats, credible elections on December 11 are Macedonia’s way out of the political crisis and returning the country back on the path to the European agenda. The Parliamentary Assembly (PA) of the OSCE (which took place this weekend in Skopje) expressed reassurance that it would organize a massive observation mission of the PA of the OSCE, ODIHR and other relevant international institutions for the electoral process.
Former Rapporteur for Macedonia and member of the European Parliament, Richard Howitt, believes that a vote for SDSM at the next elections would be a vote for the future of the citizens.
Zijadin Sela from the movement for reforms of DPA, expressed open doubt on whether the December elections will be democratic and regular. He considers that the fear of certain politicians and officials that are threatened with prison sentences, will activate their defensive instinct and therefore we cannot expect fair and democratic elections. According to Sela, the political crisis cannot be resolved as long as the judiciary is politicized.
Ad-hoc body assesses that two television stations have biased reporting
The TV stations “Sitel” and “Nova” are the first media outlets, which out of a total of 18 monitored broadcasters in this pre-election period, are to receive misdemeanor charges from the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services for lack of balance in their coverage. The Ad-hoc body for monitoring the media passed this decision with three votes “in favor” and one “against”. There were no violations to the Electoral Code noted among the other broadcasters.
SEC is not efficient in detecting the phantoms, but is in paying reimbursements
The State Election Commission (SEC) did not fulfill its obligation in clearing the Voters Register. There are 30.447 citizens, who despite continuous pressure from the public and the civil society sector, still figure on the list of phantom voters, among which are also public figures.
However, the SEC is not inefficient in every area, especially not in regards to the payment of fees for its members. In the period December to June, 25.000 euros were paid for travel expenses for all members. Of these, 12.000 euros were paid to the account of Silvana Boneva, who also as a Member of Parliament from VMRO-DPMNE is also very well known to the Macedonian public for the high transportation costs for travelling the route Strumica-Skopje.
Expressing open doubt in regards to the trustworthiness of the payment of such high transportation costs for civil servants, citizen activists on the social networks launched an initiative for the expenses to be covered only for officials who use public transportation, just like ordinary citizens do.
Macedonia is threatened by financial erosion, Government rushes to bring election budget
Macedonia is the last in the region, with a projected economic growth of 2 percent. The public debt is growing. For the fifth year in a row, the Government is projecting a lower deficit, and in practice the budget minus is constantly expanding. The fiscal deficit of the guaranteed debt is 50 percent, and by 2018 will reach over 54 percent. The unemployment rate will decrease from 24.8% down to 22.7% in 2018. But, the number of citizens who are seeking jobs is increasingly lower. They have either moved out of the country, or have given up on finding work at all. The fact that 89% of newly created jobs are created with state assistance is worrying, which creates pressure on the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund of Macedonia and increases dependence on the budget. These analyses for Macedonia were noted by the World Bank, in the last regular economic report for the countries of Southeast Europe.
The aging of the population, the reduction in the working age population and the low rates of contributions are the key reasons for the deteriorating situation of the Pension and Disability Insurance Fund of Macedonia, state the experts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They warn of the unsustainability of the pension fund and the increasingly higher dependence on the Budget. Experts consider that the constant increase in the pensions is just in the function of the pre-election marketing.
The Government requested a new loan from domestic creditors. It will provide a total of 10.8 million euros through the auction of government securities. Part of the money will be returned within a year, and part within 15 years.
Already on Thursday, on the basis of outstanding debts, the government will need to pay 14.2 million euros. With the second quarter of this year, the public debt amounts to 4.2 billion euros, or 45.3% of GDP, and in recent years has marked a growing pace. The Gross external debt is 70.9% of GDP, and according to this level, Macedonia is in the group of highly indebted countries.
Opposition promises a government that will fight against the mafia, while VMRO-DPME new child day care centers and higher pensions
The leader of SDSM Zoran Zaev, at last night’s Congress, announced a broad front of the left parties and of the center that will be led by the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia. He called on all the citizens to join them on December 11 in changing the government in Macedonia. SDSM also presented the Plan 24 – a plan for urgent reforms in the period of 24 months, or two years, in which Zaev has committed to reforms, and which he believes will return the country to the Euro-Atlantic path.
The leader of VMRO-DPMNE Nikola Gruevski, after announcing that he would increase pensions for 11 euros, has also now announced the construction of 100 new child day care centers and 40 child care centers in adapted facilities in the next 3.5 years with investments worth 25 million euros.