“You cannot blame just the political parties. I also blame the poor, because we need to once and for all put a stop to such a policy that impoverishes, and then exploits. At elections we need to vote for the one who will offer a program that will put an end to such governing, and to this misery”, says Liljana Georgievska, leader of the Bankruptcy Workers Association UNIT, in a statement for CIVIL Media.
CIVIL Media: Are the socially disadvantaged categories in Macedonia abused in a political or electoral context? What are your realizations and analysis?
GEORGIEVSKA: I can freely and responsible say that political parties receive most of their votes precisely from the socially disadvantaged families. Why? Because these families are not living, but are surviving without money, or with temporarily earned money. When elections come, politicians, I can freely say those from the ruling party, will come by and hand fifty euros to each member, and in this way buy their votes. Thus, the greatest part of the population in Macedonia is abused. They do not think. They will take the money at that moment, and suffer during the next four years. But, you cannot blame just the political parties. I also blame the poor, because we need to once and for all put a stop to such a policy that impoverishes, and then exploits. At elections we need to vote for the one who will offer a program that will put an end to such governing, and to this misery
CIVIL Media: Which promises for social justice are realistic, and which promises are a kind of political corruption, or are playing with the expectations of the voters?
GEORGIEVSKA: The promises – are unbelievable. It’s as if roses will start blooming once the elections are over. But, those promises are not at all being realized, or are realized in party headquarters. For example, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski promises at elections that he will take care of redundant workers, with two laws on workers’ rights, but after the elections he starts dividing. Instead of taking care of six thousand, only one thousand and seven hundred redundant workers received assistance. Before the elections in 2013 and 2014, again he promised that the law on redundant workers would be passed, but following the elections, compensation was settled for only two hundred to three hundred redundant workers.
How can we believe politicians, when all they want to do is to fill the treasury? Take my example: my husband, who at the age of 43 became a redundant worker, today receives 6,000 denars per month from “Granit”. Out of that money we are paying 3,000 denars for a credit. From the remaining amount, we are paying broadcasting fee to the Public Revenue office, that is, to MRTV, and we are left without any money for this month. How can I believe? Who should I believe? I cannot believe, and no one can convince me that anything can be changed. I believe the citizen or civil society organization, which is truly fighting to help a poor person in every way, more than I believe politicians. Politicians, for me, are liars. Once the elections are over, they neither see you, recognize you, nor do MPs want to communicate with you…Not to mention that nothing that has been promised, has been fulfilled. There have to be changes, to give someone else a chance. Though, our bitter experience tells us that now it is very difficult to trust anyone.
CIVIL Media: What are the social and political consequences from abusing the issues in the area of social justice?
GEORGIEVSKA: The consequences are huge. If I were in power, I would hold them responsible for this. Why? Because bags of flours, oil, coffee, Turkish delight are handed out…, we get to have a bite of everything when there are elections. After elections – we have nothing. If it weren’t tragic, it would be amusing. Not to mention the cash payments, party employments, all of that is also a punishable offense. But, when we ask for financial assistance that we truly need, as in my case, the mayor cannot send 5-6 thousand denars for people to “cover” expenses and make it through the month, because they will immediately label this as an abuse before elections. If I were in power, I would pass a law for reporting such actions of the parties during elections. I once again urge all citizens to not succumb to their influence, because the fifty euros that they will take now, will cost them four years of poverty and not having a piece of bread again. That is really frightening!
CIVIL Media: What can and what should the institutions, political parties, unions and civil society do in order to prevent the abuse of socially disadvantaged categories, and overall the topics in the area of social justice in the political and electoral context?
GEORGIEVSKA: I would immediately get rid of the trade union, because it is connected with the government. The head of the Union did not advocate for the category of citizens such as redundant workers, he did not advocate for any of the workers at all. He accepted all sorts of proposals from the Government, and none from the working class. It is up to civil society to remain included, as was the case with the floods and the poor citizens they helped. You can see their action, they should advise the parties that, that is not how they should work. The protests of the Colorful Revolution are a good example that civil society can change something. This is where I give great support, because these are honest people who really do want to make a change. In my opinion, they should be included in the election process, as guards who will closely monitor the influence of parties on citizens, who will open social networks for reporting abuses, bribery, vote buying… Non-governmental organizations can take account of these issues, they can introduce SOS lines for reports, and thus act publicly. CIVIL or the election commission are not enough, all the associations need to sit down together and form a platform that will act precisely at elections.
CIVIL – Center for Freedom is implementing the pilot project “Promises and Abuses”, which deals with abuse of social justice for political and electoral purposes. The goal of the project is to contribute to the strengthening of public awareness on abuses in the sphere of social justice in the electoral context, as well as to prevent manipulative practices of the political centers of power. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Heinrich Bὅll Foundation – Office in Sarajevo.