Thursday, May 30, 2024

OPEN LISTS AND THE “MOTHER” PARTY

The party’s “strongmen” have always been close enough to seize power and occupy positions, thus imposing a political “average” that has metastasized at all levels of political representation. Such representation is no exception to the ones who are “people’s choice”, who come from this very logic, this “selection” that takes place somewhere in the corridors of party elbows. Can open lists change this logic?

Author: Bardhyl Zaimi

The eternal transition in North Macedonia, with very few exceptions, at all times has produced a kind of authoritarianism within political parties, which is then reflected in all the pores of society and institutional life. This silent authoritarianism, often wearing the fabric of a false internal democracy, has not allowed to open a debate within a political party, within an ideology, to open the horizon of new ideas, but also of new faces.

The party’s “strongmen” have always been close enough to seize power and occupy positions, thus imposing a political “average” that has metastasized at all levels of political representation. Such representation is no exception to the ones who are “people’s choice”, who come from this very logic, this “selection” that takes place somewhere in the corridors of party elbows. Precisely when parties already seem to have turned on the engines of early elections, the quality of representation remains to be dealt with, which for years sits in deep party slumber, without the slightest sense of qualitative representation, in accordance with electoral logic and not accordance with party obedience.

Along with the anxiety for the opening of negotiations, it appears that the political parties are gradually projecting the possibility of early elections. Opposition parties in the Macedonian and Albanian bloc have long stated that they are in favor of early elections, while Government representatives have said it is not the time for elections, but for focusing on the integration and development process.

Although North Macedonia is awaiting a crucial decision, early elections appear to be a goal that is not being emphasized for the time being. SDSM has already designed the grandstand caravan in the larger cities on the grounds that it wants to hear citizens’ remarks closely, but also the ideas that will be included in the upcoming election program. This party has already changed its visual identity, while promoting the slogan “On the Right Path”.

Even the VMRO-DPMNE, which has consistently insisted on early elections, has already promoted the new slogan “Macedonia’s Recovery”, while its leader, Hristian Mickovski has reinforced his team with new names. He has consistently reiterated the holding of early elections and the formation of a technical Government in advance.

In the background of “spontaneous” preparations for elections, besides other topics directly related to the idea of reform, such as the case with the Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office, has also been raised the issue of the electoral model, which is already being debated at party and analyst level. All parties, without exception, are part of this debate, offering their own variants which they consider best for the electoral process.

Government’s SDSM has proposed a model with a single election unit, while the VMRO-DPMNE a model with 120-election units. In the political bloc of Albanian political parties, the DUI remains committed to the model with six-electoral units, the Alliance for Albanians to the model with eight-electoral units, and the “Besa” movement to the model with three-electoral units.

It is certainly part of the democratic debate that in the frame of changes in the electoral system to be debated for the electoral model. All this would be within the normality if with this is opened the issue of quality of the deputies also the manner in which they are elected, which is also in line with democratic principles, which remains essentially guided by party authoritarianism, from selections that come for purely partisan merits.

 

Generally, North Macedonia has a tradition of strong selection with a logic of deputy’s party obedience in each party. Usually, party lists have names that can hold the deputy’s post for some mandates, while new names that become part of the parliamentary composition also remain part of the logic of party obedience.

 

This logic has already created a Parliament of “sleepy” deputies who fail to get out of the party debate scheme in Parliament, while this debate remains focused only on party agendas without failing to bring down the level of problems and interests of the electorate that they represent. This logic has made it impossible to hear deputies’ authentic voices, who in parliamentary debate will present their views, which remain closely linked to the expectations of the electorate they represent.

 

By feeding this selection scheme in the party lists, we have already reduced the quality of the electors from one composition to another parliamentary composition. This logic of operation preserves the political plurality of representation, but does not allow new pluralism to flow within that plurality, which will mark another quality of representation always based on the idea of the real problems facing the electorate.

 

The parties are in their right to debate the electoral model, but it remains very important to create an environment for debate on another issue that they seem to avoid easily. In addition to the debate on the electoral model, it is also imperative to open the debate on open electoral lists, which would bring a different quality of representation outside the “strong hand” of party selection schemes.

This issue must increasingly be imposed on the public space, as an opportunity and a turning point to end the authoritarian “pluralism” of political parties, which seem to be increasingly interested in continuing the logic of “obedience” of the ones that are “people’s choice”. Perhaps it is high time for the parties to get rid of this “democratic authoritarianism” that puts party interests first and not the electorate that demands dignified representation in line with their expectations. Open lists would bring new energy in the Parliament, quality debate and, above all, real representation of the electorate. Otherwise, we will continue to be stuck in the names that represent the party, but not the  interest of the electorate, we will continue to have deputies who will not go up in the parliamentary lobby for their entire mandate.

 

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