Sunday, May 19, 2024

Back to the normality of abnormal politics

Author: Sefer Selimi Jr. 

After an unprecedented break of several months, society is returning to normality, a normality that will lie between the past and the future – at least until the discovery of an effective vaccine that will prevent the re-spread of the COVID-19 virus. We end this half of the year under the shadow of fear, insecurity and forced isolation that will long remain in the collective memory. Now the bells of early parliamentary elections have begun to ring louder and louder, and it is clear that the normality of abnormal politics will return to its previous state, which was interrupted a few months ago.

Although it is not clear when the election would take place and whether it would be organized before the start of the summer, political actors started to test the electoral battlefield. As the campaign was expected to unfold before the pandemic ceased, the main weapons appear to be political “bombshells” with wiretaps and scandals aimed at denigrating political figures. The presentation of an audio recording for the leader of VMRO-DPMNE, Hristijan Mickovski, where he talks about electoral bargaining with one of the protagonists of the case “Recket” that shocked the public opinion and the political scene, was followed by a response of 4 audio recordings for SDSM leader former Prime Minister, Zoran Zaev. In fact, Mickovski did not hesitate to openly threaten and warn after the meeting of the leaders with President Pendarovski that such “bombs” will continue, which suggests that public opinion is expecting another black political campaign built on accusations and denigrations against certain individuals.

As expected, the Macedonian opposition will demand the elections to be postponed as much as possible in order to buy enough time to denigrate, criticize and attack the current government over its response to pandemics and to amortize the effects of economic aid expected to be released on citizens and businesses. Economic aid itself is an advantage for the ruling parties but at the same time, it opens up a tremendous opportunity for electoral abuse and corruption and if the election time coincides with the implementation of the economic program to overcome the effects of the natural pandemic that it will also affect the vote of the citizens.

Within the next week, political parties are expected to agree on the date of the elections after hearing the recommendations of the responsible bodies: the State Election Commission (SEC) on the time required for technical preparations and the Institute of Public Health. The first is led by the opposition and most likely the chairman of the SEC will try to buy as much time as possible due to the fact that the elections and the campaign will be organized differently from other times, being dictated by the virus COVID-19 and not from practice so far. Second, it is a public institution that gained weight and credibility during the pandemic crisis and as an institute consisting of professionals who should first take care of public health, their recommendation should be guided only by professional and service principles of institutional obligations and responsibilities. How long it will take to withstand the pressure of public and political opinion, time will tell, and perhaps it will be one of the few examples that sets a new democratic standard by clearly separating the party from the state in the interest of the citizens.

What we do know now is that we are slowly but surely returning to the normality of abnormal politics and a campaign that may be different in form but very little in quality.


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