ABOUT THE MINISTERS, AGAIN
By Aleksandar Krzhallovski
Last week I touched on the criteria for the election of ministers, and since this has caused some polemics, I would go a little further on that subject. As a reminder, the main points of the text were that candidates should not be discriminated against when electing ministers, including not by age (i.e., it is quite okay to have young ministers), and especially not by sex or gender, but certainly there should be some basic set of criteria when nominating (and selecting) merit-based (merit, prior achievements) candidates, especially in the area in which the candidate for minister is nominated. This as professional baggage and experience (which, however, comes with the years), in addition to the basic human, moral, and ethical characteristics and values that most citizens point out as most important – honesty, responsibility, commitment.
My personal opinion, or preference, is that candidates be more practitioners than theorists (though it is desirable to have sufficient experience of both), to have already achieved and accomplished a career sufficient for themselves and their families (this for anti-corruption reasons, not to be easily subjected to the blessings or privileges of office, from the simple use of a business vehicle and payment cards…for which we have seen enough examples of mostly young, but not only such ministers…to the abuse of the office and the state budget for personal purposes and wealth) and of course being a minister not to be their first job, and those career achievements to be real and recognized by the wider community, not as a result (as is unfortunately often the case on the global stage) a good PR or profoundly personal (or firm) public outreach and good perception, with no realistic basis for it (as we have witnessed with the Racket affair and the whole thing about Boki 13 and “his” firms and associations, with virtually no realistic coverage those behind it).
I also think that ministers should have previous managerial experience (since the function itself is mainly managerial), and I also hold the view that candidates should be prepared for the function within the parties themselves, on the principle of many (especially Western European) parties – shadow government. The latter has also been one of the main points of controversy in the public, related to the issue of non-partisanship, i.e. non-membership/affiliation of candidates in the party that proposes them (whether real or covert). Namely, one of the fiercest criticisms (via Facebook status) of the candidate (now Minister) Nina Angelovska, was precisely the emphasis on non-partisanship. And not just for her…in a situation where parties are as they are (unfortunately, bad), it is considered an advantage. But it leads to other problems – that we as citizens (and even the party that proposed her) do not know (or are not sure) what policies she will advocate (left/right, liberal/ conservative etc.). That is why I advocate, rather than surprise (as now) with new faces and relatively unknown ones on the political scene (though perhaps successful in what they have done in their field), parties themselves to profile individuals who will be constantly present in the public space with statements (criticisms or commendations) on certain areas (related to ministerial positions) and to be clear to all that they will advocate as a policy in that domain and that they will govern the matter for which they will eventually be elected ministers. Moreover, I believe that these figures should be employed in the parties while in opposition, and when the party comes to power, it is known in advance (and before the elections) that they will be ministers in the respective areas.
It seems that it will take some time for us to come up with such a system of selecting candidates for ministers, but I think we need to stop improvising and treating ministries as places for experiments and training fields for party cadres. Not even for giving new people a chance without political experience. Related to this particular case, I think the new Minister’s WebSpot/ Grouper firm achieving over 300,000 Euros in revenue and over 100,000 Euros in profit in 2018 is to be respected (if the data published on some portals and media are accurate), but that and it is not that impressive, especially as now she will have and be responsible for more than 10,000 times bigger budget (the state budget for this year, 2019 is over 3.8 billion Euros). But she has now been elected to the post, so we can only wish her success in running the Ministry (and we all wish her to be just as successful as in the firm, which would mean a surplus in the budget by the end of her term of about 1 billion Euros)!
In the last text I have also commented on the need for elementary intelligence tests for the candidates for ministers (and for any political post in general), and I have also put together a task from my Korcagin high school company, which has also generated a lot of comments (and solutions), and it was like this: “A motorboat consumes 40 liters/hour…if a skier pulls, consumption will increase by 20% in the first 30 minutes, then 10%. If you drive 3 hours a day, how many liters will be consumed during the extended holiday weekend?” and I also asked which subject the task was from? Some came up with a solution of 134 liters a day, or a total of 402 liters for the entire extended (three-day) weekend…of Math. But in our company the debate continued in other directions as well, so if the task is from Statistics, the possible answer is 134 liters/day with an error margin of +/- 11%. If it is Physics, other parameters are needed to solve it – e.g. weight of skiers and the like. Or if we were on the subject of Philosophy (then called Marxism, but it was far from it) at one of our favorite professors Stefan Sidovski – Sido (who died this summer and I pay special tribute and last salute), he would have asked us “does this problem really exist, or is it just in our thoughts?”
I mean, every problem can be seen from (many) different aspects and managing a ministry is a complex job that requires the Minister to have a broader knowledge of many areas, thorough knowledge of the area he is dealing with, abilities (in addition to all of the above in this and the previous text) for resolving problems and reaching compromises (this requires both party experience and participation in inter-party agreements and negotiation, as we now see in the example of the Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office), as well as awareness of responsibility (not just the honor) by accepting the post of a minister!
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