New elections, similar remarks
Just like the previous elections, OSCE/ODIHR noted interference of party and government activities in these elections
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In the OSCE/ODIHR initial report about voting in the first round of presidential elections it is stated that basic freedoms were respected, elections were effectively administered, and the candidates could run the campaign freely. However, they noted that the biased and unbalanced media reporting and non-division of state and party activities created unbalanced field for the electoral process.
-Despite the large number of media, many with whom the observers discussed claim that there is an indirect control of the media by the ruling party through government domination at the advertising market. There is a lack of political analysis and independent informing, and the public broadcaster failed to provide balanced coverage – say observers.
From the head of the observers Geert Ahrens no qualifications as fair and democratic elections were heard at today’s press conference. Asked why this is so he replied that they did not evaluate the elections as “black – white” and that the final assessment of the elections will be given after the second round.
European Commission spokesman Petar Stano disclaimed for a particular comment. For the state agency MIA he said that they followed closely what had been happening, but they would officially comment after the second round and the OSCE/ODIHR final report.
Ink, agitation, pressure
From the civic association MOST they said that the elections were peaceful with isolated tense situations. President of the association Darko Aleksov said that the fact that the visible ink was removed easily influenced voters’ confidence in the electoral process.
-In these elections the practice was again present the electoral boards to read the names of voters despite the fact that at the election administration training it was pointed out that this practice is unacceptable. Although this is not a violation of the law, this practice is however a form of indirect pressure on voters. Before the premises of a certain part of the polling stations there were people who recorded the citizens who had voted, this is also a pressure on voters – said Aleksov.
Yesterday during the election day there were calls for a tense atmosphere in Shuto Orizari, one man with multiple IDs, bribery and blackmailing the voters.
From the NGO Civil and Helsinki Committee for Human Rights they announced there were agitations and pressures. According to their observers there was a family and group voting, problems in behavior of election commissions’ members, at polling stations, breaking the electoral silence.
Difficult to assess the impact
According to Tito Petkovski, who ran for president in 1999, and has not been politically active since recently, whether the assessment irregularities affect the final result depends on how you see them.
-If they are seen as isolated cases they probably have no strong influence on the final result. But they are only detected cases in public, such practice is mass applied and therefore I think it has a serious impact – Petkovski says.
According to Professor Jove Kekenovski who failed to pass the VMRO-DPMNE party convention and directly enter the presidential race, the difference between the two candidates is very large to attribute to the irregularities.
–Irregularities contribute to a number of votes, but not to such a big difference between the two candidates. Now institutions of the system need to react to prevent further irregularities.
Kekenovski said it was unfortunate that neither the amendments to the Electoral Code managed to overcome the problems with registered voting irregularities.
Editor: Tamara Causidis