Skopje, March 5, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency
By Naser Pajaziti
Presidential elections and early parliamentary elections in FYR Macedonia have triggered debates about potential problems and breaches of the Electoral Code, due to the lack of clear legal deadlines for the voters’ lists, electoral campaign and other technical problems relating to the capacity of the State Election Commission.
Experts of legal issues, political parties and representatives of the State Election Commission (SEC) say that the problems consist on the different deadlines for the finalization of the voters’ list and electoral campaign.
According to the legal provisions, once the voters’ list is finalized for the presidential elections, it must be opened again in order to be checked out for the early parliamentary elections.
Another problem consists on the pre election silence, which in the first round of the presidential elections will coincide with the parliamentary election campaign.
It’s still unclear how representation on the media will take place, because since the start of the electoral campaign, media are not allowed to broadcast paid ads, apart from announcements for electoral meetings
Presidential election campaign will kick off on March 24, while parliamentary election campaign will kick off on April 6. Thus, from the announcement of parliamentary elections until April 6, media is not allowed to broadcast paid political ads. This way, the electoral campaign for the presidential elections will be 12 days shorter if the rules for the electoral campaign will be complied with.
The voting a day prior to the voting day by the Diaspora, sick people and prisoners will be held at a time when the electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections still continues.
FYR Macedonian opposition party, Social Democratic League (LSDM) demands urgent legal amendments in order to address these problems.
“The Electoral Code must guarantee free and honest elections, but the current one is unclear. If we hold elections without setting clear rules, then we will breach the Code. Therefore, urgent changes are needed, if there’s will and sufficient time”, said today for IBNA, LSDM lawmaker, Renata Deskovska.
Professor of law, Savo Klimovski underlines the need for a solution to the current situation, by dividing electoral processes. This means that parliamentary elections must be announced in a way not breach electoral deadlines of the presidential elections.
“Through the unification of these two electoral cycles, presidential and parliamentary ones, there will be a lot of confusion amongst voters. This situation will put a big question mark to the legitimacy of the elections”, says law professor Savo Klimovski.
Minister of Justice, Blerim Bexheti rejects all these problems, by saying that a rule can be decided in order to prevent breaches of the Electoral Code.
“I consider the demands to amend the Electoral Code as groundless. The electoral code is very clear and concise. We don’t think that there’s room for different interpretations, because all the dilemmas manifested yesterday by the head of SEC may be addressed based on the Electoral Code. All the uncertainties outlined by the Election Commission are addressed in the law”, says Blerim Bexheti, Minister of Justice.
On the other hand, citizens say that the fact that two elections will be held, has caused a lot of confusion and problems.
Ardian Mehmeti, activist of OBRIE nongovernmental organization in Skopje, told IBNA that this situation causes confusion, because citizens will face offers from presidential candidates and political parties.
“We know that there will be confusion and voters will be more inclined to vote a political alternative than presidential candidates”, says Mehmeti.
According to him, “the responsibility on this lays on political parties, because they decide how the electoral campaign will be managed”. /ibna/