ELECTIONS UNDER CLOSE SCRUTINY

OSCE/ODIHR, as rarely seen elsewhere, is sending for the second time a large observation mission. MOST will cover 60-65% of all polling units with 3,500 observers.  MCIC and  the Institute for Democracy with a joint project for public opinion surveys and observation at large. Civil is all around the country for public awareness raising and prevention of election irregularities.

Forced eviction of the opposition and media from the Parliament, election boycott, large number of conditions, even larger number of blackmails. Tensed political atmosphere, and constant vigilance of the international community. While the opposition refuses to take part in the local elections until their conditions are met, the Government states that the upcoming elections will be free, fair and democratic. Voters on the other hand, fear pressures, and public servants fear abuse of their positions.

electionsMacedonia is amongst the rare countries where OSCE/ODIHR is sending for the second time, an observation mission at local elections. The other country in the region that has received a local elections observation is Albania. Insufficient transparency concerning funding and donations in the political campaigns, biased media editorial policies and breaching of the parliamentary procedures are all listed as sufficient reasons to fear possible violence in the election process, as outlined in the preliminary reports of the international and domestic organisations and institutions. Diplomats express concern about the political showdown in Macedonia. During the upcoming days, 20 long-term and 300 short-term observers of the ODIHR mission shall be deployed throughout the country. Apparently, one of the most critical points of the election process this year will be voter turnout at the polling units, in order to evaluate the legitimacy of the elections.

The Citizens Association MOST is the most visible organization involved in the election systems, and the one with the most extensive experience in the observation of the election process. Continuing the practice from the preceding elections, MOST shall deploy 3,500 observers at the polling units, as well as 84 mobile teams. The number of observers is expected to cover 60-65% of all polling units.

SDSM protest (m)We asked the Association what is their view of the situation prior to the local elections 2013. Their answer was that in the last 10 years MOST has not once given an assessment of any events happening prior to the elections. "The international standards that have been established and implemented by MOST in the last 10 years have been and will remain to be the basis for carrying out this particularly complex operation. Due to this reason, MOST will once again refrain from making comments and assessments of the situation" - MOST says.

Another two organizations -  Macedonian Centre for International Cooperation (MCIC) and the Institute for Democracy (IDSCS) shall carry out series of joint activities at these elections. According to the statements of these organizations, they have already started with the public opinion survey, observation of the election programs and campaigns, media, the electoral administration, as well as the polling day. The initial activity was carrying out a public opinion survey regarding the characteristics that will influence the choice of the citizens in terms of the mayor and council-members lists.

The mandate of Civil - the Center for Freedom, as stated many times before, is through field work, to raise the level of political culture and strengthen the awareness for free and non-violent elections to all electoral stakeholders. In the same fashion of all preceding elections, this project of Civil equally foresees encouraging civil activities for prevention of violence and gun violence during the election process.

Civil - the Center for Freedom has deployed over 100 mobile observers in all municipality around the country that are about to be active during the entire election process, starting from the beginning of February. At the polling day, that number will be doubled. Civil's observers are assigned to observe the atmosphere and possible irregularities in wider context nationwide, during a longer period, not only at the day of the elections and not only at the polling units.

Anushka Cvetkovska

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