Todays Date
November 17, 2019

Open lists open the door to democratization of elections

What election model do we need? The incumbent has shown to eliminate smaller political parties and create a black-and-white image in Parliament. The small chances of winning a parliamentary seat have forced them to join the big parties and thus lose their identity and independence. Ruling SDSM announces one constituency, open lists, opposition VMRO-DPMNE proposes 120 constituencies

Svetlana Unkovska

 

Next year regular parliamentary elections are to be held, and there is still no agreement on changing the electoral model among the political parties. There are dilemmas in the public about what kind of electoral model is needed in the country to provide quality staff that will represent the interests of the citizens and work for the good of the state? At the beginning of his mandate, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced that there would be electoral reform and that it would be good to have one constituency with open list. It is also recorded in the election program “Plan for Life in Macedonia” and recently Zaev himself announced that there would be a change of the model. “We will propose that MPs be elected on the principle of open lists, which would mean democratization in the electoral process. That way every vote will be worthwhile, and citizens will directly elect their representatives”, Zaev said.

Biggest proponents of changes are the smaller parties, Pendarovski backs them

Smaller political parties most insist on this, as they lose their independence with the current model and are in coalition with the major parties in the elections. President Stevo Pendarovski supported the request of smaller parties to change the number of constituencies so they could win seats.

“I call on the major parties to start talks and to reach a consensus on a proportional electoral model with open lists, where citizens will elect not only political parties but also individual candidates, and also not to introduce an electoral threshold or it should be very low”, Pendarovski said.

DUI, like the other Albanian parties, is for open lists, but to reduce the number of constituencies from 6 to 3.

 

Opposition VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, meanwhile, says he has more options, but he believes a 120-member majority system is better.

“There are a few options, it is possible to have one constituency, it is possible to have three, it is possible to have six. There are a few models we can think of, but my personal opinion is that 120 constituencies is an interesting model”, Mickoski said.

 

 

Arsovski: One constituency and open lists do not go together

 

According to analyst Petar Arsovski, the proposal for one constituency along with open lists is impossible because, as he pointed out, in that case, each party will submit a list of 120 candidates and thus the voter will face a large number of candidates. According to him, it is very important to have one constituency, but in order to have open a hybrid model with preferential voting will have to be made.

“With one constituency it is very important that the loss of smaller parties will be drastically reduced. If so far they have lost about 6-7 thousand votes per MP in each constituency, so they have lost up to 36 thousand votes. But when all constituencies merge into one, those votes will mean 4 MPs. This increases the chances for the small parties to enter the Assembly and thus the composition will be more representative, i.e. the will of the voters will be truly reflected. I think it is necessary to have one constituency, and open lists will revive the parties and get them to the citizens faster. This can be done together through a hybrid form that will not have all 120 MPs, but by giving five preferential votes, citizens will decide which five will move forward”, Arsovski says.

 

Ristovski: One constituency with slate lists is a bad model

 

Analyst Aleksandar Ristovski is looking at it differently, and in his recent column he said he disagreed with a proposal for one constituency with a supplementary “slate” lists option, where the candidate could be freely elected, and if supported, could rise higher.

“I disagree because it will completely destroy villages and smaller towns, quasi elites will even more be grounded, and the parties will become absolutist. My proposal is to create a separate list for smaller ethnic communities, with the exception of Albanians, with 10 MPs. Then exclude the possibility of a pre-election coalition, because it is time for each political entity to go to the elections alone, and then either merge or fade”, Ristovski points out.

Arsovski and Ristovski with different opinions on Mickoski’s proposal

But how is opposition leader Mickoski’s proposal looked at, who says it is better for him to have a majority model with 120 constituencies? Arsovski says it is even worse than the current one with 6 constituencies.

“This model poses the problem of representativeness. If with 6 constituencies votes are lost that do not reach the required 6,000 to win the parliamentary seat, it will now happen in all 120 constituencies. Mathematically, the model is not representative and will again reject small parties, which is why all major systems reject the majority model. With one constituency the votes are accumulated and less votes are lost, and with VMRO-DPMNE’s proposal it will happen 120 times”, Arsovski points out.

Ristovski, however, says that two electoral models are possible – return to the majority or proportional to 12 constituencies.

“A majority model with 120 or 110 constituencies will contribute to candidates de facto coming out of the constituencies they are from, and parties will greatly try to animate the best candidates. A proportional model like the current one is possible, but with 12 constituencies with 10 MPs. Because the incumbent, due to the D’hondt method that pushes the big for a small number of votes, made it impossible for any MP to win even though he won 30-40,000 votes as a political entity. Dividing it into 12 constituencies with 10 MPs each,  voting for the list but also for the candidate, and not in the order in which they are put in place, will enable better election of MPs”, Ristovski assures.

In the country there is currently a proportional electoral system with 6 constituencies out of which 20 MPs are elected from each. In this way, the chances are smaller for the smaller political parties, which, despite winning a quantum of votes, remain without seats. Such was the example of VMRO-People’s Party of Ljubco Georgievski who won 28,000 votes in the 2011 elections, but was left without a single MP. This closed-list model has another disadvantage as voters vote for a party and the ones on the top of the list win. So, the main struggle is not how to respond to the citizens’ demands, but to the leader of the party that makes the ranking.

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