The debt relief framework is populism

The debt relief framework is populism
Ilo TrajkovskiIn September of last year, the prime minister urged bosses to open their wallets and give their employees a little more money. Since the call was made during the referendum campaign for the name change, it caused fierce reactions among the public. A few other people and I urged the Public Prosecutor’s Office to evaluate that call from the aspect of the provisions in the Criminal Code regarding the election bribe. The referendum passed as it passed, and there was no reaction from the state organs.

In the meantime, we looked at many more corruptive interventions by the authorities. The politically motivated bribe has become an everyday thing. In the hands of the Government, it functioned as an effective tool for the fulfillment of obligations under the Prespa Agreement. In that populist style, the government, that is, the prime minister, but also other government officials, continue to do so.

These days the public was familiarized with the government’s steps taken to repay the debts of two wineries and write off the debts of about 200 thousand families to EVN! Here we are not talking about measures that the Government is taking to solve these two problems, but it itself directly undertakes the repayment of debts to growers, for example! Thus, instead of the wineries that bought grapes from 2014 to 2016 and made some profit, the debt to the growers will repay the government with money from the state budget! For this purpose, about 1.5 million euros will be spent – which is 200,000 euros more than the amount that the state allocated for scientific research in 2018! For the measure of writing off old debts to EVN, the Government plans to “convince” EVN to forgive 110m euros of 200,000 families, its debtors!

In both cases we are dealing with the intervention of the state in relations between private market entities – business firms, on one hand, and their clients, on the other. The government presents its intervention as “a real example of state concern for citizens and the return of citizens’ money”. But such troubled interventions again face the question of their ideological aspects.

Most often, as the first ideological framework in which such measures are interpreted, populism is indicated. It turns out that this policy is not a privilege just on the right-wing. Political parties from the left serve as political technology as well. And it is undeniable. Both government measures are designed as steps to save what is called the “ordinary people”. The current government saves these people from the clutches of greedy capitalist bosses and firms and their perpetrators. Previously, the VMRO-DPMNE government saved him from the various threats to national identity from outside and from within. Populisms – left or right – are especially rising in pre-election periods. While in the periods of politics as usual, they, for example, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE in our country, function as a left and right arm of capital and its powerful privileged officers. In those periods, it is more important for them to protect the acquired wealth and privileges.

We are approaching elections – the presidential certainly, and the early general are also getting more and more certain. In the name of this, the most numerous social class, which at the same time is the poorest and vulnerable to manipulation, is becoming more valuable. Its price is now being raised by the same political actors who, upon the principle of gravity and weight, strip it to bare skin. They do so either through its direct devaluation of the labor market, either indirectly through the processes of criminal privatization and the commercialization of public resources. In that sense, left and right populists are only occasionally populist. They are intended and occasional – during the elections. Beyond those short-lived courting the masses, they serve, above all, to the interests of the powerful elites, of course, their own.

SDSM now, and VMRO-DPMNE before, are promoting measures to write off the debts of the poorest layers of the population in the pre-election periods. Depending on their inventiveness, their debts are written off or repayable on the basis of unpaid electricity bills, heating, bank card interest, broadcasting fees and enforcement procedures, etc. Such measures also touch the middle, household layers of the population, but only as victims of the abovementioned populist policies. They, as responsible hosts and housewives, citizens, according to the principle what is royal belongs to the King, what is godly to the Lord, zealously, timely and dignifiedly paid their bills – I will eat less, but I have to pay the bills – is how a typical representative of the middle class thinks.

To the middle class, paying bills is a matter of basic decency – to live from one’s labor, not on another’s expense. When the middle class sees how money from the budget are spent for political goals, it starts migrating

But in circumstances when the governments spend budget funds for repairs or improvement of their private accounts, the middle-class citizen, by paying his own bills, pays for the non-payers as well. There are three bills are accumulated in their own bills. Apart from their own, they pay unpaid bills from the poorest categories of citizens, as well as overpaid bills of the corruption from the upper class.

This burden on middle classes is the result of populist policies towards the poor, on the one hand, and from neoliberal policies towards public resources, on the other. The middle classes function as a kind of shock absorber of these two opposing policies and two opposing classes – the poor and the rich. This leads to quantitative shuffling and qualitative degradation of middle classes. For example, analyzes show that this class becomes an increasingly powerful source of migration outside the country. Bearing in mind that the middle classes are the stabilizing element of the social structure, this phenomenon presents even greater challenges for the development of democracy and in general the development perspectives in our country.

From Aristotle to this day, it is known that the middle classes are carriers of moderation, order and system in society. Therefore, the attack on these classes was from the bottom or from the top contributes to the loss of measure and stability. The middle class, that is, its educated and established representatives, judges, for instance, are the main subjects of the rule of law. Therefore, in parallel with populism aimed at low classes, the pardons by which representatives of the higher classes were freed from their “bills” destroy the measure of decency, normality, civilization and civility in our society.

Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik