No more blank confidence for anyone or anything
By Denko Maleski
I have been to America many times when a Supreme Court judge has been elected. It is the highest judicial instance in the country’s judicial system consisting of eight judges and one Chief Justice, elected for life and having the important function of interpreting the constitutionality of laws. The nomination puts his personality at the center of the country’s political life. Newspapers such as The New York Times or The Washington Post have his photography on the cover, and television news begins with the same news. It is just the beginning of a long process of analyzing the candidate’s professional and private life, which ends with a hearing in the US Senate accepting or rejecting the president’s proposal. There is no automatism here, so many candidates do not go through this filter. Namely, in addition to political opponents who collect data on the endurance and consistency of candidate’s views expressed over years or inappropriate behavior throughout his life, journalistic investigative teams also shed light on the darkest corners of the candidate’s professional and private life. This whole process of nomination and election is part of an effort to protect society from immoral, incompetent, or corrupt people in influential positions. Of course, parties tend to choose the one who shares their political views, be they conservative or liberal. However, these are figures with a reputation and integrity that politicians cannot easily “put in their pocket”.
In our country no one is particularly shaken when electing a judge of the Constitutional Court, the Macedonian counterpart of the US Supreme Court. To be more precise, it goes unnoticed by the public. Anonymous in the profession, even people with dubious morals are easily placed at the top of the judicial pyramid. Sometimes it is enough for a candidate to have stayed in the office of a senior politician long enough to deserve to be appointed a judge of the Constitutional or Supreme Court. But who knows that appointees are really anonymous or morally troubled individuals when there is no research and public debate about a candidate’s career and moral behavior? The shock given to us by Katica Janeva should make the society be aware to open the eyes when appointing someone to high judicial, prosecutorial or other state positions. In that context, in the debate over the new law on public prosecution, which is being overshadowed by corruption scandals, some have said the law should foresee the possibility of a prosecutor being a professor. Is that how much our policy can do in addition to the quality of our prosecution and our judiciary? A professor is not a guarantee of honesty, nor a guarantee of expertise. There are corrupt professors and ignorant professors who make their obscure deals behind the cover of an academic degree. But to make matters worse, past experience tells me that even when nominated for a professor, parties want it to be a corrupt professor who, as such, is easy to influence and manipulate. So the fact that one is a professor does not solve the problem of honesty and integrity.
The disintegration of the previous one-party system when the top of the only party was the final arbiter of everything and selecting all staff, including the judiciary and prosecution, was followed by chaos. In that chaos, in the absence of democrats and democratic parties, we began to build pluralism. History may confirm that there were founding fathers of the modern Macedonian country, those who found themselves in the key political positions at that turbulent time, but it is difficult to say so for democracy. Democracy in our country is not a product of a deliberate strategy of a group of people in a united politics, as opposed to party divisions, over democratic principles, but rather a chaotic fight for personal privileges, not infrequently, at the expense of the common good.
And, to make the paradox bigger, the fight for personal privileges at the expense of the common good is most prominent in politics, a sphere responsible for the common good. But until we fight for a political system and freelance journalism that will shake up the professional career and the candidate’s personal behavior for any high public office, there is no promotion of our democratic system. Politics must set an example. The first step towards this is to have the biographies of politicians undergo a rigorous public evaluation, because only then will they require the same to be done for other posts in the various branches of government. We need a society with strict criteria in which it becomes difficult to become an MP, a professor, a judge, a prosecutor, an academic…That will mark the end of stories that with a well-prepared trout or barbecue one can become anything from the above mentioned. Even with less than that. Only with the consent to be someone’s man. If there is something good about what is happening to us, it is that recent corruption affairs have completely demystified all social functions. The freed man of North Macedonia does not trust anyone. But without a minimum of trust there is no community, no country. Therefore, trust in public office holders should now be deserved. It is a good start to building a healthy society in which citizens will trust the institutions, in particular the politicians, judges, MPs or professors sitting in them. No more blank confidence for anyone or anything. Western values of democracy and justice are strongly penetrating Macedonia by destroying the ramparts of authoritarian and corrupt rule, not least those in our consciousness. The numerous corruption-related affairs in the government can be seen as part of that process of becoming aware.
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