Enabling citizens to vote for the individual candidates on the lists will have several positive impacts for the democracy in Macedonia. This includes the fact that the voters will be offered more choice and after the elections they will be able to accurately locate responsibility
Citizen Association MOST is a national organization that works to empower and mobilize citizens to strengthen Macedonia’s democratic culture, increase the democratic capacity of civic organizations, institutions and political actors, and to work through sustainable partnerships. MOST’s mission includes work on improvement of the electoral systems in the country.
The organization launched the campaign “Your choice to be a person” last year with a main goal to raise citizen awareness about the Open List system as a variant of the Proportional Representation system. In the Open List system, as well as voting for candidates’ list, the citizens will also have an opportunity to vote for the individual candidates on certain list. The campaign is also aimed at fostering a mass debate throughout the society about the introduction of an Open List system.
The campaign started in February, 2011 with a national conference on which the campaign and its activities were presented. There was a short pause due to the early parliamentary elections and the summer holidays, so the campaign continued in autumn 2011 with 9 regional debates in the bigger cities of the country. These debates served as a tool to reach as many citizens as possible in order to inform them about the Open List system, and in the same time, to give them opportunity to ask questions and clarify their dilemmas about the its introduction.
Parallel to these debates, ads and articles were also published in the printed media in which the organizations implementing the project and various experts on elections and election legislative presented their views about the proposed improvement of the election system in order to reach the citizens which do not use the Internet and social media.
Enabling citizens to vote for the individual candidates on the lists will have multiple positive impact on the democracy in Macedonia. Firstly, voters are offered more choices. After the elections they will be able to accurately locate the responsibility for (un)realised promises.
This is one of the reasons for their greater motivation to vote if they have a chance to vote for individual candidates on the list. The greater greater turnout is also expected because of this reason: many people do not vote because their favourites are placed on the lower places on the list and do not have a chance to be elected, or because they do not like the candidates placed on the winning positions on the list.
The bigger turnout will mean more votes to be divided between the parties, so the candidates will be more motivated to pay respect to the needs and problems of citizens and the parties will have to search for candidates with more quality who will bring more votes for the party list.
Also, the elected MPs will feel responsibility directly to the voters, and not to the party elites which nominated them to stand for elections. Hopefully, this will contribute towards certain established people in the public life running for office, because the current system is demotivating for them.
The Executive Director of MOST, Mr. Darko Aleksov says that the the Open List, on the one hand, will enable the political parties to exactly measure the worth of every candidate by the number of preferential votes he/she will gain and will have a clear picture about which candidates are popular in the people, and which of them deserve to be candidated. On the other hand, the Open List system will offer the citizens a possibility to have the final say about which candidates will enter the Parliament and represent their interests, which is the quintessence/true essence of the representative democracy.
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