Citizens above all

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PRESS RELEASE
17.05.2011, Скопје

CITIZENS ABOVE ALL

On the bases of the 106 reports on the up to date monitoring of the election process, MOST noted certain violations of the election regulations which may have influence on the entire election process, protection of the interests and respect for the citizens' rights in these elections.

It is a traditional practice the political parties to conduct early start of the election campaign. In the recent time the public is a witness to promotions of programs and candidates on a national and local level.

According to the Article 69-a of the Election Code, election campaign represents public gatherings and other events organized by the organizers of campaign, public display of posters, video presentations at public places, electoral representation in the media and the internet, distribution of printed materials and public presentation of the candidates, confirmed by the authorized election management bodies and their programs. The election campaign starts 20 days prior to the Election Day, i.e. on 16 May 2011. Just to clarify that the candidates list were confirmed on the 9 May, which provides that the organizers of campaign are responsible for all activities that took place in the period between 9 May and 16 May, i.e. the start of the election campaign.

The disrespect of this provision is encouraged by the minimum penalties prescribed against it, but moreover it is encouraged by the inconsistent reaction of the competent institutions, in this case the SEC. Just to recall, in 2009 the SEC fined certain political subject and independent candidate for president for early start of election campaign. On the bases of Article 31, paragraph (3) of the Election code, the SEC is competent to initiate a procedure concerning the alleged violations of the election code provisions and we call on to undertake appropriate measures in accordance with its competences.

Two questions are raised: "Will the competent bodies take certain measures against the organizers of the early start of the election campaign?" and "Will the already spent funds for the early start of the campaign be stated in the financial reports of the political parties?"

If the case with the alleged lists of citizens who were pressurized to vote finishes up as reliable, it represents serious violations of international election related documents as well as of provisions of the Election code and Criminal code. Article 178 of the Election code stipulates that the violations of the free expression of the will of the voters will be sentenced according to the provision of the Criminal code, i.e. the Article 160. The proscribed penalty for violations of the free expressions of the will of voters is at least 3 years of prison or 5 years of prison if the violations were committed by a member of electoral body. We welcome the decision made by the public prosecutor's office to initiate procedure about this case and we encourage the office to resolve it on shortest possible notice. At the same time we underline that the SEC cannot declare itself not to be competent for this case, because this one can seriously impact on the legitimacy of the election process.

Regarding the work of the election administration, there were determined serious violations of the election activities deadlines, like forming the Election boards in the diplomatic-consular representation offices of the Republic of Macedonia, supplementing of the EB members in R Macedonia and announcing the descriptions of the polling stations. On the other hand we welcome the SEC's efforts to educate the members of the MECs and EBs and we call on the members of these bodies especially the representatives of the political parties to participate in the trainings and to express a will to conduct fair and free election process.

On 12 May 2011, the political parties signed Code of conduct for free elections and will attempt to press a democratic fingerprint on these elections, and to protect the interests of the Republic of Macedonia and its citizens, but not to use the elections as a tool to realize the narrow parties' interests.

MOST recommends the political parties, competent state institutions and other participants in the process not to put the blame on each other, but to accept the fact that they are the most responsible ones for conducting fair and free elections.

The project “Domestic monitoring of the Early Parliamentary elections 2011” is being implemented by the Citizens Association MOST with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the generous support from the American people through USAID as well as from Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, German Embassy, National Endowment for Democracy and Embassy of the Czech Republic.

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Note: The contain of this press release is responsibility of MOST and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) nor the views of USAID or the United States Government , Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, German Embassy, National Endowment for Democracy and Embassy of the Czech Republic.