Guests could not get to the birthday party organized in the children’s amusement venue at the Skopje Kale, tickets for the “Realists” play were sold out, but the audience was nowhere to be found, and some of the parents could not arrive on time to watch their children who took part in the play in the park near the airplane monument in the Aerodrom settlement. As we do every Monday, when we and our colleagues and friends summarize the weekend that passed, we came to the conclusion that all of us were stuck in the center of Skopje because the political parties organized rallies, one party in front of the government building, and the other in front of the Ramstore Mall. Those who take interest in the presidential campaigns of the party candidates discuss their messages and gaffes, but those who don’t care about the campaign and change the TV channel whenever they see the commercials of candidates who paid for them out of the citizens’ pockets, this past weekend they were unable to avoid party rallies. Members, followers and supporters, brought by the political parties from all over Macedonia, closed down the streets in the center of Skopje, and even city buses were hired to bring citizens to attend the rallies. The capital was blocked for the entire weekend, and those who decided to stay in Skopje, were forced to follow a special traffic regime.
Lines of party buses were parked at Stara Rampa, in front of the Skopjanka shopping mall and at the overpass in Crnice. Presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova sent messages to the government at 7 pm on Saturday evening, and the next day SDSM presidential candidate Stevo Pendarovski was holding a rally outside the building of the EU Info-Centre at the Ramstore shopping mall. The rally closed the section of the Ilinden Boulevard from the intersection with the Goce Delchev Boulevard to the intersection with the Saint Clement of Ohrid Boulevard. In a statement to the public, informing which streets will be closed for the weekend, almost all main roads in Skopje were listed. “The blockade will start from the Church of St. Clement of Ohrid, then right along the Boulevard Partizanski Odredi, right along the Vasil Glavinov Street, then left on the Dimitrie Chupovski Street and right to the intersection between the October 11 Street and the Kocho Racin Boulevard. Then, in front of MTV and MANU right along the boulevard Krste Petkov Misirkov, right along the boulevard Koco Racin to the crossroads with the street October 11, as well as in front of the Transport Center right along Kuzman Josifovski – Pitu Boulevard, left along the Kocho Racin Boulevard to the intersection with the street October 11. Also, the section from the Tutunski Kombinat will be closed right along the October 11 Street to the intersection with the Kocho Racin Boulevard, as well as from the crossroads between Koco Racin Boulevard and Belasica Street right along the Kocho Racin Boulevard, right on St. Cyril and Methodius Street to the EU Headquarters, where a rally will be held at 2 pm,” read the statement.
Although the presidential candidates go each night to different cities throughout Macedonia to reach all citizens, that is, all their members and the undecided, they will bring the same people to Skopje. Some of them will stay and listen to their messages in a hopeless manner, hoping to get jobs in administration, while the rest will use the free ride to take a walk around Skopje’s shopping malls and cafes. However, almost all of them will take photos with the party flag and post the pictures on their Facebook profiles to boast, or show support to their political party.
Sandwiches and buses were a trademark of a past time created by the VMRO-DPMNE machine. Now that VMRO-DPMNE is in opposition, and now that the richest party in Europe hasn’t got the money as before, the number of their buses has decreased as well. But those who were in opposition during VMRO-DPMNE’s reign accused the party of harassing its members and forcibly taking them to rallies, are now lining up their party buses all over the city center. Europe and European values are the things that the candidates promise to the citizens in order to win their votes. But in Europe, citizens are not hostages to the desires of any party that comes to power, and in which all power is channeled. Each party has the right to mobilize its membership and offer a better future for all citizens, but those who have other priorities must not be held hostage to their wishes, and have their right to move freely violated. They can glorify their party leaders and candidates in sports halls or other venues outside the center of the city, where they will not torture those who are not interested in hearing their promises.