“Every promise, that the social situation of a certain tier of population can suddenly be fixed, is a pure manipulation! They are not interested in the long-term policy of a given party, on how it will defeat poverty in the country, because, objectively, that is a long-term process. They are interested in getting something that they can take home that day, and then wait four years to get something again…It is not about citizens that you can convince that a party that does not give out flour and sugar, will work on eradicating poverty and improving their financial situation”, says economic expert Dzevdet Hajredini in an interview for CIVIL Media.
CIVIL Media: Are the socially disadvantaged categories in Macedonia abused in a political or electoral context? What are your realizations and analysis?
HAJREDINI: It is without a doubt that the disadvantaged part of the population has always been subjected to abuse for political purposes, or for bribing of voters. This is quite interesting in countries where this part of the population is high. We know that Macedonia, according to statistics, European analysis, ranks among the poorest countries in Europe. It is often mentioned that up to 50 percent of the people are poor. This category of citizens is also the least informed, due to objective reasons, because those who are concerned with providing basic living conditions, are not informed about what is happening in the country, they neither watch television, nor read the newspapers… Thereby, political subjects, parties in power and in the opposition can easily, with little money, recruit a relatively large number of voters. We have witnessed in all election cycles, especially in these past several years, the many types of abuse that political parties use against those people, those citizens… And in practice that we have had until now, with the group voting, when the head of the family votes for everyone. Or, let’s take for example the most disadvantaged group in Macedonia – the Roma. For how much money can a person be abused in Skopje, and in the other cities? Like VMRO-DPMNE’s partner, the party of Amdi Bajram, for how little money he will mobilize people to vote – let’s say, the Roma from the neighborhood of Topana – for the party he tells them to. The citizen will vote for a bag of flour, for basic food products, who is not to blamed. Because that person neither knows, nor is interested in what –a party is offering for the future of the country. Basically, the level of their education, social awareness, poverty…, does not give them space for them to be interested in these things. This layer of population, which is significant in Macedonia, is a target group, profitable, for political manipulators.
CIVIL Media: Which promises for social justice are realistic, and which promises are a kind of political corruption, or are playing with the expectations of the voters?
HAJREDINI: Every promise that the social situation of a certain tier of population can suddenly be fixed is a pure manipulation. They are not interested in the long-term policy of a given party, on how it will defeat poverty in the country, because, objectively, that is a long-term process. They are interested in getting something that they can take home that day, and then to wait four years to get something again…This is my point, that it is not about citizens that you can convince that a party that does not give out flour and sugar, will work on eradicating poverty and improving their financial situation
CIVIL Media: What are the social and political consequences from abusing the issues in the area of social justice?
HAJREDINI: Absolutely, this is done by parties that have the main goal of staying in power as long as possible. They will always use these people, in order to win the elections with a significant number of votes. That is why, the most obvious example is the case here, in Macedonia. But, also in other poor countries, those are options that are forced by political parties.
CIVIL Media: What can and what should the institutions, political parties, unions and civil society do in order to prevent the abuse of socially disadvantaged categories, and overall the topics in the area of social justice in the political and electoral context?
HAJREDINI: If we speak specifically about the situation here, you mentioned the institutions, all reports of the European Union, of the commissions of the European Council, conclude that citizen’s trust in the institutions in Macedonia is extremely lost. Hence, institutions are very compromised and are in the function of realizing the goals of the parties precisely through them. The institutions joined with the parties in power, participate in – keeping socially disadvantaged citizens as a reserve army for voting. So, no matter how much NGOs and other forms of association and activity, social and political, manage to achieve, we can see that it is going with great difficulty…
CIVIL – Center for Freedom is implementing the pilot project “Promises and Abuses”, which deals with abuse of social justice for political and electoral purposes. The goal of the project is to contribute to the strengthening of public awareness on abuses in the sphere of social justice in the electoral context, as well as to prevent manipulative practices of the political centers of power. The project is implemented in cooperation with the Heinrich Bὅll Foundation – Office in Sarajevo.