III. ELECTORAL MODELS AND MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS – WHAT FURTHER
Since its independence, Macedonia has tried almost all the known electoral models.
By Zoran Ivanov
In this third last Friday sequel of the miniseries regarding electoral rights with an emphasis on electoral models, especially the parliamentary elections, a word or two more in terms of some guidelines on where, judging by the demands of the expert and democratic political public, the political should be directed to bring the Republic of North Macedonia to a more democratic, more democratic, more equitable, sustained and long-term sustainable electoral model.
Parliamentary elections are a democratic mechanism for the election of MPs in the unicameral Assembly of the Republic of North Macedonia. By voting, citizens entrust their sovereignty to elected MPs. The principles of parliamentary elections are regulated by the constitution of the state, and the manner, conditions and procedure for election of deputies with the electoral code. The assembly, as it is constitutionally defined, consists of 120 to 140 MPs, and the exact number is left to regulate the election code. It now envisions a total of 123 Members of Parliament, out of whom 120 are elected in six constituencies in the country, and Macedonian citizens abroad vote for three.
MPs are elected for four years in general and direct elections by secret ballot. Regular parliamentary elections are held every fourth year in the period of the last 90 days of the mandate of the old parliamentary composition. They are announced by the president of the assembly. Parliamentary elections are also held during the self-dissolution of the assembly if the majority of the total number of deputies pronounces it. In that case, the elections shall be held within 60 days of the dissolution of the assembly.
Since independence, Macedonia has tried almost all known electoral models, and after the introduction of political pluralism, five regular and four early parliamentary elections were held in the country in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2016.
Now all the analyses indicate that the country should finally decide how further with a stable electoral model that will be most suitable for the Macedonian pluralistic democratic environment.
In that direction, many elaborations on this topic point to more necessary realistic solutions on which the future electoral model for the composition of the Macedonian Parliament should be based. A group of theoreticians believe that the combined electoral model, majority and proportional, would be most adequate for the country because it provides stable coalitions that are inevitable for our Macedonian circumstances. It is important to abandon the current static candidate lists and replace them with open ones with the goal of direct voter participation for the people who want to represent them in the assembly. This, they say in some analytical circles, will be good for staffing with non-party candidates and for the democratic design of the current monopoly placement of major parties. Otherwise, a combined electoral system was applied in the 1998 elections. Then, on the basis of the majority electoral model with a defined election threshold of 5%, 80 MPs were elected, while by applying the proportional electoral model, the other 40 MPs were elected at the level of the entire country from one constituency.
And now, especially from the smaller political parties, but also from the current ruling SDSM, which from an opposition standpoint promised one instead of the current six constituencies, the issue of territorial redefinition of the territorial election platform is raised. It is considered that this solution will again favor the larger parties, but under such conditions smaller party entities will not be forced to pre-election coalitions, they will be able to stand independently and now much more clearly affirm their original program commitments and their own human potential.
In such a decision, and in order not to lose the votes of the voters, the dilemma will also be imposed on the share of the election threshold, but for now it is a secondary issue. More importantly, it is already quite clear that modeling of an electoral regulation that would allow open dynamic lists among big parties and a greater motive for autonomy among the smaller ones can engage more authoritarian non-partisan persons actively and directly to engage in political life. Hence, a model with one electoral unit with open electoral lists is certainly a challenge in the direction of democratizing the electoral process and the possibility of more emphasized authenticity of the voters’ will.
However, starting from the previous Macedonian plural experiences and especially from the character of the big political parties whose manners are to grab everything if they are given the slightest chance of doing so, then it would be best, as it is possible, of course, that the parties are farther than direct participation in the creation of a new electoral model or models when it is about all parliamentary, local and presidential elections. It is important the new direction to be created by experts in a wide public debate where parties would only join as participants in the public debate. And of course, as supporters of the dominant solutions. In addition, our past experience, the negative consequences of the previous models, and especially the international standards and the comparative experiences regarding the elections, should be the priorities in the initiation of the creation of new legal solutions for the Macedonian electoral processes.
For the time being, in the efforts to change the electoral model for the election of MPs in the Macedonian Assembly, several requirements are dominant: a proportional model or a combination with the majority, open lists, revision or elimination of the current system for voting abroad, the election commission to have no evident party personnel, permanently continuously updating the voter list, reducing the time range for pre-election campaigns, redefining the ways of electoral funding of parties, and anything else that is related to proven European election practices.
Moreover, starting from the fact that in some countries the electoral model is constitutionally defined, which guarantees its long-term nature and which does not allow the ruling party to adapt it itself according to some of its lucrative party needs, it is possible that this guarantee will be applied to our Macedonian election regulations. But for such a constitutional establishment, of course, first it takes a little longer-term practice of an electoral system which, as consensual and successful, will be confirmed in several consecutive election cycles.
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