Sunday, May 19, 2024

WHAT DO THE CITIZENS DEMAND, AND WHAT DO WE OFFER THEM?

However, the factors of the public sphere that shape public opinion, mainly politics and the media, seem to stubbornly keep topics that are secondary or tertiary to the citizens, but which are part of their wild campaign to smear the “other”.

Author: Xhelal Neziri

Last year citizens showed record pessimism when asked if the country is heading in the right direction. This was shown by the IRI survey conducted in October 2022. In the newest survey, published yesterday, one percent more think that the country is on the right track. Although this may be an indication of the return of optimism, there remains a large percentage of people who think that the country is going in the wrong direction.

If we look for the source of this pessimism in the citizens, then the survey gives us the answer from the results of the first questions. There, the respondents answer what are the main problems they face, and which it seems that the government is unable to solve. Poverty, low living standards, high prices, low wages, the general economic situation, unemployment, youth flight and corruption are the main problems that account for 75% of the respondents’ overall concern, according to the answer given to the first biggest problem. The rule of law and law, EU integration, Bulgaria’s pressure for EU integration or the work of the current government are problems for less than 10% of citizens.

So, in the first group are the problems that citizens seek solutions and primary treatment, while in the second group are problems that do not seem so big to them. Although the solution of some secondary problems also means the solution of peaceful problems, this is the opinion of the citizen. For him, the EU integration process, the compromise with Bulgaria, the power-opposition clash or other major causes are not very important. It will lift poverty, improve living standards, reduce unemployment and stop youth flight. That’s it. Less talk, more work.

However, the factors of the public sphere that shape public opinion, mainly politics and the media, seem to stubbornly keep topics that are secondary to citizens high on the agenda. The hatred towards Bulgaria that blocks our integration into the EU, the Albanian parties that have “usurped” our institutions and the fight against corruption with “windmills” – are the main topics that are imposed on the citizens. In the last period, especially, there is a tendency to return to big ethno-nationalist themes, but wrapped in the cellophane of the fight against corruption. As if there is a race for the other, the other ethnic group, to be criminogenic, corrupt, criminalized or a cancer for society. For example, in a reaction of the company “Feroinvest”, which built modular hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, against the IRL organization that is investigating the fire in one of them in Tetovo that left 14 patients dead, it is asked why only “Macedonian companies” are being investigated: “After many such cases that happened last year, even though we don’t want to, it is still necessary to publicly ask the question before the entire Macedonian opinion: why are they constantly targeting only companies owned by Macedonian businessmen? Is the message that the Macedonian mentality is criminal?”.

In addition to imposing secondary and tertiary topics, certain politics and media are instrumentalizing the fight against corruption by turning it into an inter-ethnic clash. Instead of the documented and professional treatment of cases of suspected corruption, the names of persons and companies that are not categorized by law as “politically exposed persons” are being published. Although no legal violation is shown or proven, however, their names are contextualized to be found guilty before the public court, to be blackened and tarnished, which may reflect on their lives and businesses. A research that does not document any legal violation is not research but a smear campaign directed by certain centers of political or economic power.

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