Criticism must continue

Criticism must continue
Zdravko Saveski

The number of citizens disappointed by the ruling of SDSM is constantly growing. It becomes clearer and clearer that SDSM has not changed at all in the past 11 years spent in opposition. They learned nothing. It remained the same party as it was when they last ruled. Even worse. The obviously started taking lessons from VMRO-DPMNE, and assure the public that SDSM will not be as bad as the party was in 2006, but even worse – that SDSM will be similar to VMRO-DPMNE in power.

They cannot begin working in the public’s interest just like that. If this is done, then the government would not be as sweet. It wouldn’t be possible to fill the positions with "deserving citizens," it wouldn’t be possible to draw personal benefit from the government and, most importantly, wouldn’t deliver the promises to the large capital to whom the government serves. And that SDSM, a clientelist party that serves capitalism just like VMRO-DPMNE, is not able to do.

Just like VMRO-DPMNE, SDSM will start creating the illusion of serving the people. The ruling party knows the ways to do this, but is less skillful than VMRO-DPMNE.

The beginning of term is especially important for any ruling party that doesn’t plan on serving the people. This is when the party creates a positive image and assures the citizens that, unlike the previous authorities, they are going to work in their interest. And after, as soon as several moves are needed to create this illusion, the government can be misused in order to gain personal benefit. If they make smart moves, there will always be people who will have understanding about their unpopular moves, and the crumbs they got from the authorities will be reason enough for them to continue their support.

This is how SDSM started. They abolished the external testing, abolished the broadcasting fee, returned the daily cheap tariff for electricity, raised the minimum wage, passed a law to improve the status of the redundant workers. But ... instead of upgrading the positive image they had when they came to power, they continuously disappoint the public. Why? Where did they go wrong? They made mistakes because of their impatience. When you come to power, you shouldn’t immediately enjoy the benefits the government gives you; you need to refrain, wait a while. Create a positive image, then lie. This is where they made mistakes.

The first disappointments came when they started filling government positions without criteria. They weren’t happy when there was leaked information about MPs getting great sums of money on the basis of travel expenses. While many citizens are living day to day. Then they started meddling in the life standard of common citizens. Suddenly they decided to increase the excise tax on oil. Additionally, they hit poor farmers with the announcement that they are planning to introduce personal taxes. Because they have a lot of money, right. Unlike the bosses. They decided to compensate bosses for the increase in the minimum wages and provided them with an easy way of not paying the minimum wage in the future, with the so-called norm performance. We’ll see soon enough if the price of water will stay unchanged. And the budget will be filled by borrowed, just like VMRO-DPMNE did.

Life is obviously not going to come that easily. At least not for the common citizen. For the new authorities, Life came through the main door. I know that many were hoping they could take a break after VMRO-DPMNE's departure from power. We will not have to deal with politics. We can finally live our lives. Not everyone who hoped for a significant step in the right direction, but many believed that we would return to "normal" life. And this "normal" life is usually means that there will be something for the common citizen as well, and there will be no major intrusions in their living standard. Maybe they’ll dip their fingers in honey, that’s understood (?!), but in moderation. Our people is extremely modest and understanding to the authorities! But here we are, shocked once again, facing yet another benefit gain from the ruling party, new intrusions in the life standard of common citizens, and minimal actions that in favor of creating a positive image of the party.

The authorities will not leave is alone yet again. The question is how we’re going to take a stand. In that direction, one of the most important lessons is not to repeat the same mistakes we made when VMRO-DPMNE came to power in 2006. Let me remind you, they were far more successful in creating the illusion of a great government. They created a rarely seen positive atmosphere. They convinced people that tax cuts would bring a higher standard of living, strengthen the nation and used illegitimation of SDSM to gain support for their own party. And every criticism was disqualified with its connection to SDSM. In such a situation, many carried self-censorship, fearing they will be labeled as supporters of SDSM. So the criticism that did not originate from the ranks of SDSM came late. This refrain from criticism was either out of fear, labeling, or “giving a chance”. Enabled VMRO-DPMNE to become even stronger and the ruling party had the luxury to stop listening to the public. The consequences of this are well known. No matter how large the number of protesters was, or how modest the demands of the protests, - the government did not give up.

So, let's not repeat this mistake. Yes, the new government hires "militia" whose goal is to hunt down and crush criticism. Yes, they use the same method, devaluation of the critics through its connection with the delegitimated largest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE. But we must not repeat the mistake we have made before, leave a sufficiently long period of finding excuses for the wrong moves of the government, in which period the current government will be amplified enough to begin to ignore criticism. We see that criticism sometimes can be productive. This is not because the new authorities are more open to criticism than the previous ones. They are still not in power long enough to ignore criticism. Hence their greater "sensibility". We shouldn’t miss this opportunity. We must not relieve this government from criticism and fight. Because if we act differently, we will again get indifferent authorities that will make moves against citizens, and will have the luxury of not listening to the public.

The author a political scientist and a member of Levica

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