More budget money, fewer donations for political parties

The political parties in the country are to be financed mostly by the state budget to avoid their dependence on various centers of business and power, and the State Election Commission to function as an administrative body in which the parties will have their representatives without the right to vote … This, as “Nezavisen/Independent” learns, is part of the novelties agreed by the majority and the opposition within the working groups on laws that require the adoption of a two-thirds majority or political consensus, as is the case with the electoral regulation.

According to our information, the discussions in the working group on election rules and party financing have so far taken place constructively, so that SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE are close to harmonizing several points for which remarks were made in the recent OSCE-ODIHR reports on the elections in the country . Our interlocutors say that among the representatives of different parties there is compliance that all recommendations of the observation missions should be implemented. There was great progress in terms of party financing. In that part, certain non-governmental organizations came out with the draft parties to be fully funded by the state, but since comparative experiences have shown that there is no such example in other countries, now it is going to limit the incomes to a lesser amount a party can realize itself by donations, and at the expense of increasing the funds for the regular annual financing of the parties from the budget. The distribution of the budget money for the parties would be according to the principle so far, according to the seats won at the central level and councilors at the level of local self-government. On the other hand, it is considering abolishing the fee for elections now received by the parties in accordance with the won votes, as well as to reduce substantially paid political advertising in the media.

The changing of the manner of party financing may also need to be intervened in the law that regulates this issue, while the introduction of the new election rules, according to the information, the Electoral Code will change twice in the coming months. The first corrections should take place soon in order to restore the previous SEC model, so that the president will be from the ranks of the opposition, and the majority will have the ruling parties, as opposed to the fried concept according to which there were three experts in the Commission, from whose ranks the vice-president and deputy are elected. Now, according to the information, the concept under which only the party representatives are named in the SEC, because the newly elected members of this body will have a limited mandate – until the next amendments to the Electoral Code expected to finish in September – if by the end of May they end the discussions in the working group, and then in the summer to prepare and adopt the new election rules and to elect the new election administration.

The intention is the new composition of the SEC, which in the future would function as an administrative body – with state sector employees, to start operating in September, so that it has time to prepare the ground for the presidential elections planned for spring 2019. Thus, it would be a room of six months for inclusion of party representatives in the work of the SEC, but a novelty that is arranging this time is that they have the status of observers. Party representatives, according to our interlocutors, would not have the right to vote, but they could cause some of the decisions of the administration, that is, ask them to vote in the event of a disagreement or noted irregularities.

The issue of the electoral model is also open, but in that part, according to the information, nothing has been agreed on in detail, except some analyzes from the non-governmental sector are considered as to which system of voting in the parliamentary elections would be the most suitable for Macedonia. Otherwise, for now SDSM’s commitment is to remain a proportional model, but with one instead of six electoral units, while VMRO-DPMNE, according to the information, prefers the return of the majority model, but does not insist on it.

The recent amendments to the Electoral Code were adopted in 2015, based on the Przino agreement. At that time, the composition of the SEC was modified, where a consensus voting on issues related to ethnic issues was introduced. In parallel, a census was introduced for the election of deputies from the diaspora, and several methods for clearing the Voters List were determined, as well as mechanisms for separating the party from the state. Then there was also a debate about the electoral model, but no agreement was reached on changing the way of voting, so the issue was left open until the next round of an inter-party agreement. In Przino, it was agreed that the parliamentary elections would be conducted by a technical government, as a systemic solution, according to which the prime minister would have to step down from office one hundred days before the elections. Now, the parties are again faced with the decision whether this solution will remain for the next parliamentary elections or it will be abolished.