EVERYONE IS AFRAID OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
The fiasco of these presidential elections will not be a victory for the citizens. But it will be a heavy defeat for politicians and their policies
writes: Zoran Ivanov
It is not easy for anyone in the upcoming presidential elections. As their success is very uncertain. This time the political parties represented through their candidates will encounter not so much with each other as directly with the citizens’ mood. Never before has the broad voting body been so inert. Never so depressed, unmotivated and unprepared to respond to the call of politicians. The campaign has not started yet and it is early for more precise estimates. But judging by the outcome of last year’s referendum, regardless of the then negative campaign, citizens are more difficult to get into the service of the non-authoritative political parties. Even, as it is now, it is a matter of electing the first political person of the country.
For the time being, the electorate does not announce a strong interest in actively taking part in these presidential elections. For this reason, the epilogue in terms of census is highly risky. Post-referendum circumstances, the unpopular Prespa Agreement, the shocks with the change of the constitution, slow-down reforms, unequal justice, privileges of the party elites. Unlike the referendum, no one is suggesting a boycott. Party voters will not have this type of pressure, especially in the first round. This time the citizens themselves will decide how much energetic they will be to appear at the polling stations in a sufficient number. On the election day we will know if the party campaigns have persuaded them in that. For these reasons, due to the evident civil indifference, the political parties as promoters and as direct participants in these elections, regardless of the desire and enthusiasm of the presidential candidates, fear for success. They are worried, above all, for their political skin. None of them has so far demonstrated certainty that citizens trust them so much to massively listen to their invitations to go to the polls.
For now, for example, DUI is still silent. It manifests complete inertness in relation to these elections. SDSM tried to send a strong message with expressly collected thirty thousand signatures for its candidate in two days. Previously, with fifteen thousand in a day, the same was done by VMRO-DPMNE. They both initially demonstrated their party power, but these are still mostly purely pure party votes provided by the directive. This propaganda effect is not sufficient to further motivate the citizens to vote in a number greater than forty percent.
The emigration of whole families to a better life, already reaching epidemic proportions, is a complementary problem that will hit these presidential elections directly on the census. For years, people have been going to various polls, putting and removing authorities in the hope of a better tomorrow. The same thing for almost three decades. From elections to elections, from regular to extraordinary. From euphoria through hopes to disappointment. Now, the impression is that the motivation for this non-compulsory democratic obligation is descending to the lowest ineffective point so the parties are facing indefinitely indifferent electorate.
Apathy is the dominant voting mood and the political entities know it and fear it. Especially the most powerful SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE. These two, each in its own right, have good reasons for concern about the success of the presidential election. In DUI they did not dare to run with their own candidate. Ahmeti’s authority is shattered, and for that reason Sela and Kasami elegantly prompted him for his proposal for a joint presidential candidate. The smaller participants in this race are more relaxed. In this cycle they do not have much to lose. On the contrary, the pre-election atmosphere inclines in their favor. For the Alliance and BESA, every election score, every vote in their account, will be winning.
These days, according to the legal dynamics, the election commission closed the candidate process. Contrary to the will and ambitions of several other influential party candidates, SDSM re-elected Stevo Pendarovski. Among the citizens, after five years, he again has higher rating than any of the other party aspirants. But with the election SDSM confirmed that it does not foster an internal perspective human resources policy. The party does not manage to grow and produce from its ranks an authentic but credible authoritative candidate. Certainly, with the exception of the incumbent leader and PM Zoran Zaev who, in these circumstances, judging by the results of several public opinion polls, would probably the undisputed winner of these presidential elections.
It is the same with VMRO-DPMNE. After deceived hopes and a multitude of crimes that the public heard from the recorded phone conversations, the party not only lost power, but remained without the trust of neutral voters. The new leadership just made a noise for some extraordinary parliamentary elections. In essence, it knows that after decades of criminal rule, it is too early to appear in front of the citizens. For these reasons, it resorted to a non-partisan candidate in the elections, with the borrowed Gordana Siljanovska. The presidential elections are a chance to check the party rating, but for President Hristijan Mickovski they are also a double-edged sword. If he, as himself announced, does not draw at least half a million votes at the expense of his candidate, and even if these elections succeed, and he loses them, then he will face further party divisions and internal party provocations for a congress for his change.
For DUI these elections are very risky, too. At the last parliamentary elections, with almost twenty years of coalition government participation, it lost half of its MPs and half of its loyal voters. In its current coalition partner it found a shelter not to go alone and to hide at what speed its party rating and Ahmeti’s leadership are moving down. Hence, viewed pragmatically, the successful electoral epilogue for them would be an additional failure. The failure of the electoral census, however, the failure of the presidential elections, will regain the power of DUI. If it is not already so strong in field, it is still in parliament. There, with its ten votes, it is still inevitable in the processes of overcoming the crisis that would eventually be created with the non-election of the president of the country.
Observed from this perspective, it turns out that in these elections the only party entities that have nothing to fear and what to lose are only Zijadin Sela and Bilal Kasami with their Alliance for Albanians and Besa. With their joint and also non-partisan candidate Blerim Reka, they will at least test the mood of Albanian voters in relation to their party rival Ali Ahmeti and his DUI.
All in all, from the aspect of turnout, from the aspect of their success, the upcoming elections will be with a very uncertain epilogue. If for this reason they fail, in half a year, according to the constitution, the alternative should be sought in repeated elections. Of course, it is early for such elaborations. But such a variant would not be promising. Participants in those elections for the second time would subsequently face the indifferent electorate. In such presently assumed circumstances, it would be logical to open the process for a new constitutional regulation that would allow the election of the head of state through the party headquarters to be left to the MPs in the Assembly.
Until the April elections, parties will “breathe using gulls”. If they happen to fail, for them it will be very unpleasant. Especially for SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE. And it will be even more unpleasant for their leaders.
The fiasco of these presidential elections will not be a victory for the citizens. But it will be a heavy defeat for politicians and their policies.
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