OSCE/ODIHR’s Final Report this year was formally marked with a presentation in front of several representatives of organizations that conduct monitoring of the election processes in Macedonia. While the ODIHR divided the recommendations into two categories, into priority and others, CIVIL in its report “Free Elections 2017”, marked each recommendation as well-intended and constructive criticism, but also as urgent and of equal priority: “What has to be done, has to be done now”.
Among the first are the recommendations that the ODIHR directed to the State Election Commission. Like in the previous report on the early parliamentary elections in 2016, the recommendation for revising the Electoral Code and the internal work of the SEC still remains, with an emphasis on not changing the rules during the election process, as well as a more detailed procedure for correction of the protocols for the results in the municipal election commission. Part of the recommendations directed to the SEC are in correlation with their request for MRT to provide exact time segments in all the news dedicated to covering the activities of the campaigns of the parties, and for this to be replaced with a more general request for fair access and information coverage of the smaller parties and independent candidates.
CIVIL considers that the SEC needs to primarily be formed as a qualified, professional body of independent experts, and not to be a representative body of the biggest political parties in the country and that it should have a smaller number of members, that is, according to CIVIL’s election experience, the SEC should be reduced to seven members.
Furthermore, in terms of the systematization and the deep reform in the structure of the SEC, CIVIL calls for it to continue with the legal service and the election administration, and especially the municipal election commissions and the electoral boards.
In the part that refers to other recommendations, the ODIHR leaves room for improvement of the election administration, registration of voters and of candidates.
Reforms of the election system: one electoral unit; open lists; diaspora; the reduction in the size of the parliament should contribute to the elimination of the shortcomings of the election system, for which, on the other hand, political will is needed for them to be realized. Such reforms, according to CIVIL, will contribute to the reduction of election irregularities and to democratization of the society, while the following are also of equal priority: vote-buying, abuse of children for political purposes, violation of electoral silence, education of voters in regards to their voting right and etc.
In terms of the election day, the ODIHR briefly recommends that the accessibility to the polling station be improved and the equal right to vote of persons with disabilities.
Let us remind that the Association for Promotion and Development of Inclusive Society “Inkluziva”, with ten observers, participated in the monitoring of the elections for the first time, as part of CIVIL’s monitoring team. The primary goal of the association is creating conditions for realizing and respecting human rights of persons with disabilities.
And while in Macedonia a ray of light has still not entered in the media darkness, which always deepens during elections, the ODIHR recommends that it is quite enough for MRT to be strengthened as a broadcasting service, and for AVMS to be protected from political influence.
And while the ODIHR brings down the recommendation on financing the campaign, not so much of priority, to appropriate penalties for delaying the preliminary reports of the political parties for the financing of their election campaigns, CIVIL engages in deep analysis and recommendations in the sphere of political financing.
In the report from the monitoring of the local elections, as in all the previous reports, CIVIL pays full attention to a large number of aspects of the protection of the right to vote, which is a fundamental human right. Like always, CIVIL was the first organization that came out with a detailed report, analyses and recommendations from the election process in 2017.
During the implementation of the activities related to the long-term monitoring, CIVIL enabled full and continuous access to information from the ground for the public, through its media platform in three languages (Macedonian, Albanian and English). Literally all of CIVIL’s resources were available every day to ODIHR’s observers and analysts.