The chances of depriving the former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of his parliamentary mandate due to the final verdict on the case ‘Tank’ are very small. The two-thirds majority, which passed the decision to join the constitutional changes, is unlikely to be repeated in the case of Gruevski. His until recently fellow party members, who are now part of a new independent parliamentary group, have announced they will not provide support for taking away the former prime minister’s mandate. In the best case scenario, according to the estimates, a majority of 72 votes could be secured, despite a total of 48 votes in the parliamentary group of VMRO-DPMNE, plus eight lawmakers excluded from that camp.
In other parliamentary parties, there is mainly support to revoke Gruevski’s mandate, given that the “Tenk” case is only one of the cases that the SPO was opened against him, for which court proceedings are still pending or are in the phase of (pre) investigation. From this aspect, the estimates are that the Parliamentary Committee on Procedural and Mandate-Immunity Issues, which will meet tomorrow, will make a decision by which it will recommend to the Parliament’s plenum to accept the proposal for revoking the mandate of Gruevski, on the basis of received notification from Department for Organized Crime at the Basic Court -Skopje 1. However, it will be unlikely that parliament will provide the necessary 80 votes for Gruevski to go to prison without his parliamentary mandate.
Therefore, keeping his parliamentary mandate is not an obstacle for Gruevski to go to prison. Especially since on Friday the court rejected his request for postponement of the prison sentence due to obligations in parliament. Accordingly, the former prime minister should check himself in the Sutka prison no later than Thursday, although his team of lawyers announced today that they will appeal the decision of the preliminary procedure judge.
These days, VMRO-DPMNE seems to be preparing the field to present Gruevski as a victim of political and legal persecution, who is now facing the possibility of losing his parliamentary post. In that direction, VMRO-DPMNE vice president Aleksandar Nikoloski is also saying that it is rude what is happening to the former Prime Minister in relation to the “Tank” case.
“All rules have been violated. The person is held accountable for being driven in an armored vehicle. This is neither crime nor corruption,” Nikoloski said in an interview with Factor magazine.
VMRO-DPMNE came out yesterday with announcements pointing fingers to Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, pointing out that he was the only pardoned politician in the prime ministerial post in the world.
– He stole eight million euros from the state through the Global case, and found his rescue in his mentor Branko Crvenkovski. With the coming to power, crime has multiplied. While citizens can barely make ends meet, and the number of people living in poverty has risen to 460,000, the Zaev family purchase whole industrial giants at a a very low price,” the VMRO-DPMNE statement read.
The SDSM replied with a reaction that, while the citizens were massively getting poorer, VMRO-DPMNE uncontrollably threw the country into bigger debts.
“The money of the citizens was spent on luxury, baroque, monuments and criminal tenders, only in order to fulfill the criminal interests of Nikola Gruevski and his associates. Unlike VMRO-DPMNE’s approach led by Gruevski, the SDSM-led government manages the citizens’ money in a responsible and responsive manner, SDSM stressed.
The report on Gruevski sent by the judge Dobrila Kacarska to the Government Speaker Talat Xhaferi, on the basis of which the Rules of Procedure will be chaired, is in accordance with Article 59 paragraph 1 of the Rules of Procedures that read as follows: For the MP convicted of a criminal or other offense makes him unworthy of performing the post as Member of Parliament, the court that ruled the sentence is informed to the President of the Assembly. The President shall immediately forward the notification to the Committee on Rules of Procedure and Mandatory Immunity.
According to the Constitution, a Member of Parliament has his/her mandate terminated when convicted of a criminal offense for which a sentence of imprisonment of at least five years is foreseen. On the other hand, a Member of Parliament may be deprived of his/her mandate even when he/she is convicted of a criminal or other offense that makes him/her unworthy of performing the office of Member of Parliament, as well as for unjustified absence from the Assembly for more than six months.
Commission for procedural and mandate-immunity issues in this composition, late last year, recommended the deprivation of the immunity of the six members of parliament from the VMRO-DPMNE camp who were then suspected of the events on April 27. The Commission’s proposal was also passed in plenary session, but with the difference that 61 votes are necessary to revoke immunity.
Gruevski will still get paid by the Parliament whilst in prison
If his parliamentary mandate is not taken away, Nikola Gruevski, according to parliamentary interpretations, will still be able to exercise some of the privileges he has as a Member of Parliament. On the other hand, if he goes to jail, he will not be able to perform his parliamentary duties on a regular basis, such as communication with the voters in his constituency or for the presence of plebiscite and commission sessions.
In such a case, Gruevski would continue to receive his salary from the Assembly. But it is unclear whether this would be the entire monthly salary, or the incomes would have been reduced, in accordance with the Law on Members of Parliament. This regulation provides for the possibility of reducing by two thirds of the salary of a parliamentarian who does not participate in the work of the Assembly. But that mainly applies when it comes to boycotting.
According to the Law on Members of Parliament, if the MP is unjustifiably absent from the session of the Assembly, that is, from the session of the working body of which he is a member, the salary and other personal incomes are reduced accordingly, and no fees are charged. Accordingly, the amount of salary Gruevski receives depends on whether he regularly renders justice to parliament in absentia from the plenary sessions and the sessions of committees in which he is a member. On the other hand, the Constitution provides for the deprivation of the parliamentary mandate for unjustified and continuous absence from parliament for a period of six months.
Assuming that Gruevski starts the serving of his two-year prison sentence on Thursday, November 8th,, and if, in the meantime, it does not come to shorten it or to a new legally valid verdict, then he could return to Parliament before the expiration of his term of office (at the end of 2020), except in the case of extraordinary elections. But his possible new MP candidacy, according to the interpretations, would depend on whether he was sentenced to another prison sentence – for other criminal acts and whether he had served it.
(Alexandra M. Mitevska)