If judged according to announcements that are printed daily and massively in the ‘White palace’ and press conferences that are subsequently held, it can be said that the VMRO-DPMNE remains consistent with the 24/7 rule, which was declared by the previous party leadership , in the period when it was nested in the government. In this regard, the ruling SDSM significantly lags behind its political opponents. While VMRO-DPMNE is constantly thinking of new ways to criticize the ruling party, at SDSM’s headquarters, from where most officials have fled to various positions in the executive, legislative or local government, there is no one to stand behind a microphone and give an adequate response to accusations that resonate several times a day.
From the many criticisms that VMRO-DPMNE sent to the ruling party’s address in the past few days on various topics - starting from the situation in agriculture, to the name agreement and the (un) received date for negotiations with the EU, somehow the most embarrassing or maybe the most naïve, although stated by an experienced political staff, was the one about the catastrophic situation in the judiciary that was desperate for re-election. Such a diagnosis was stated by Aleksandar Nikoloski, current vice president of the opposition party, former longtime Member of Parliament and almost ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia to Brussels.
What else, in fact, is the opposition’s job, apart from measuring and estimating every step of the government and criticizing it publicly if it considers it wrong. However, when that criticism turns into a criticism from someone who was part of a long and disproportionate rule until recently, then it really became critical. But not so much for the new government, which probably expects to be "shamed" by political opponents, as it is to the new opposition, now faced with the additional pressure from the EU to end the trials arising from the wiretapping scandal and the violence in parliament on April 27 last year.
If VMRO-DPMNE now does not like the judiciary as it was installed and built during the time of its rule, then what will the opposition officials say if Prime Minister Zoran Zaev accidentally decided to implement his plan that he announced before coming to power tomorrow - for general re-election of judges and prosecutors? Probably, they will say that the SDSM is politicizing the judiciary and that the new judges are biased and not objective in regard to all the procedures that involve senior former and current VMRO-DPMNE officials. In fact, it is not hard to assume that in such a case, VMRO-DPMNE will use similar qualifications as it used and still uses for the SPO, although it participated in the negotiations on its constitution and in the choice of prosecutors.
It is also interesting that Nikoloski's announcement that when VMRO-DPMNE comes to power, it will make a full re-election and verification of those judges who would remain in the judicial system. In fact, Zaev was announcing a similar thing while he was an opposition figure, and then he reduced that strong announcement only to a judiciary reform. Thus, the EC recommendation for Macedonia became clear instead of conditional, while through the courts, as well as in the institutions for the election of judges and prosecutors, the same staff from the rule of VMRO-DPMNE remained.
And, many things would have been different if VMRO-DPMNE did not have to wait to return to power in order to make re-election and judicial review, as the party vice president announces. And if he did it according to principles and criteria while he was in power. In such a case, perhaps, the Macedonian judiciary would not have received the epithet "Swarovski", maybe Reinhard Priebe would not have to come to the country and write recommendations for reforms of another authority and the intelligence sector, and maybe the recommendation in the previous EC report would not have been conditioned...
There were certainly remarks about the situation in the judiciary in the latest EC report, but it should not be forgotten that much of the report refers to the situation before and during the change of power. And it is quite expected now that the EU is pressing again in order to strengthen the reforms in the judiciary, because the laws that SDSM had to negotiate with VMRO-DPMNE are not enough. This time, the EU is seeking specific results, which will mean the completion of processes that resulted from the so-called ‘bombs’ and the incident on April 27, 2017. It is therefore not surprising that the opposition feels strongly affected and, in fact, criticizes the same judiciary that was even more strongly criticized by many other parties while VMRO-DPMNE was in power.
Aleksandra M. Mitevska