It is true that the government can collapse due to a possible postponing of the date, but it’s not like we did everything to get on time, and in this regard, one thing that comes to mind is the saying: “Too many cooks”. If we take SDSM under consideration, another saying comes to mind as well: “Don’t spoil the child”. We have an understanding of excuses such as the ones from the “creative inertia of demolition” corpus, but this government came to power (not without our help) precisely with the story that the “captured state” will be finally put to an end. They could have at least tried a little more seriously…
While Zaev was on his “business trip”, the “housewife” in the government developed a red flag, all of the critics called her malicious mother-in-law, “the children” puffed up the whole idea of life, and the reforms were reduced to “at least we started,” as if this was Denmark, so someone will automatically implement them. The opposition is not into reforms unless they are connected with the SPO and gaining power. They say, they are doing well with the elimination of the SPO, but who believes them? Or should we?
Mainly, the date for Macedonia will be a reward for intentions, not recognition of what has been done. Therefore, let us not enter into propaganda and see what the “foreigners” say about us and our reforms, in order to try to understand: Are there any reforms, and if the answer is no, then why not?
From1992 to 2018, Freedom House does not regard Macedonia as a free country and was first a “faulty” democracy, and after 2015 the “hybrid regime” and they still refer to our system as “delegitimized”, measured by the methodology “Index of Democracy”, which is very precise. This is not surprising. In the UN poll “E-government for the future we want”, Macedonia yet again takes the last place in all segments.
According to the findings of GRECO and the United Nations, reforms are in vain without rising professional ethics and personal integrity, especially in higher education. Foreigners have many forms for testing and determining integrity, and they function as if they are a constitution, while here there are “ethical codes for slacking off” and even the Parliament adopted one, but the Committee on Mandate and Immunity Issues has not adopted a rulebook on acting and procedures and complaints cannot be initiated.
We all know that politics is constantly coming out of the framework of law. Therefore, European institutions introduce standards and process of policy validation, so that they can put policy within the law and have no subjective assessments. After measuring the “Nations in Transit” system, Macedonia again shows regress.
There isn’t anyone who would not agree that human development depends on education and its quality. Thus, the OECD PISA programme has measured that children in Macedonia, when they turn 18, are expected to complete 11.2 years of pre-school, primary and secondary education. However, when the years of schooling are adjusted according to the quality of the material learned, it is equal to only 6.8 years. While the Human Capital Index shows that a child born today in Macedonia will reach 53 percent of its potential human capital when he/she grows up (girls 55 percent, and boys 52 percent), compared to what he/she can achieve, with good health and quality education. To us, these indicators mean next to nothing, but the World Bank immediately supported our improvement projects. Of course, these projects are from loans and will not yield results.
However, the most serious are the warnings from the World Bank, which offered a bunch of evidence that no one is bothered. In the Public Finance Review, the World Bank explained why our political struggle is so severe: “More than 13 percent of all government expenditures can be saved.” (Nonproductive costs). Should we translate? OK! They say: “The stealing and party meals from your budgets are at least 13 percent of all budgets (both state and municipal). Do you need an even better explanation? Okay! You steal and waste 481 million euros a year. For this kind of money even the mafia of Sicily would come here to work with us. But, no one would let it come here – we have our own secret services, our pride and our mafia.
But how are 481 million euros stolen and wasted each year? The World Bank responded diplomatically to this, and we will paraphrase, which is a 100 percent correct “translation”: … you have no planning for spending on maintenance of buildings, infrastructure, road network; neither data collection systems for traffic, efficiency and autonomy of hospitals, agricultural subsidies; you spend too much money on tertiary health care (going to see a specialist for every little thing), you do not have effective preventive health care; you cut and redirect capital investments, poorly and wrongly planning (“highway landslide”); you waste money on nonsense; you are choking the private sector with a lot of laws, racketeering and systemic distortion of competition; secondary education produces useless personnel while you all graduated from college, but you still know nothing, and even if you do know something it is useless to your economy; you are developing quite poorly, but your pollution is as if you are China, and each year air pollution generates loss equivalent to 3.2 percent of GDP; you are corrupt to the core and it is suffocating your development; the productivity of your labor is poor; in GDP, services come in at only 25 percent and that is inadequate, from 2008 to 2017 you doubled your public debt, and you did not produce anything with that money; your pension deficit is over four percent of GDP – you increased it by 150 percent in just one decade and you did not save anything, except the pain of poverty…
This list could be as long as “War and Peace”. How big this problem actually is can be seen from the fact that the average worker in Europe is four times more productive than the Macedonian worker, and about 70 percent of Macedonian 15-year-olds have no basic reading and counting skills.
This is the promised land for our politicians: destroy the school system and universities, standards, expertise, so that they can rule without any control. If we add the Media Literacy Index to this, in which we are convincingly on the first bottom place, it is clear that the long-term marginalization of the population and making it more and more stupid results in more comfort for our politicians – Con men who know that the “common folk” won’t understand anything when it comes to the reforms, so we, the ‘educated ones”, can wash our hands clean, while they smile and say: “The party will decide for my state function,” you just keep stealing from the projects (I wish they were wrong).
“Foreigners”, starting from diplomats to international research and monitoring organizations, are our biggest friends, while “our own” people are the biggest enemies, but, like in all stories for adults, the plot occurs when you get in bed with your enemy, you start a business or reform – voluntarily.
The first test of will is not going to be the date, but the SPO. If they “get rid of it” or “stifle it”, we will immediately know now that there is no political will to reform. Then there are the central and local pawns and the appointing of the enthusiastic officials in order to get results. The order is important, the SPO comes first, because there is greatest confidence in these three women than in all the parties combined, and the people want to see criminals in prison, the bigger the better. We will get this, even if it’s in early parliamentary elections. After that, we will open new chapters and our two eyes won’t be enough for all the weeping.
The column is part of the “Childhood Diseases of Democracy” project, supported and funded by the NED, in the implementation of the AGTIS, and the project aims to increase the accountability, transparency and the direction of reforms by the government and local self-governments.