Elections Efficiently Administered - Campaigns Unequal16. April 2014 - 7:59 — Dejan Georgievski
MOST and Civil – Centre for Freedom nongovernmental organizations assessed the first round of Presidential Elections, held on April 13, 2014, as generally peaceful, but with numerous registered incidents and in a tense atmosphere.
"The electoral process in the Republic of Macedonia is characterized by many irregularities and maximum levels of abuse of public resources, accompanied with serious weaknesses of the Voter Registry and structural violence on several levels, which all compound to distort and undermine the democratic process and the quality of work of democratic institutions”, states the Civil – Centre for Freedom in its assessment of the electoral process.
Civil emphasizes the strong and unprincipled electoral campaign which, in its view, was conducted without “any restraint in the attempt to discredit political rivals”. Civil notes the manipulations and the hate-speech in the pro-government media and in the social networks where hate-speech, vulgar and incendiary language is the main characteristic of prominent proponents of the policies of the ruling party.
On basis of reports and information provided by its observers and the 29 regional coordinator, MOST Civic Association estimates, in its preliminary statement, that the voting on April 13 proceeded in a peaceful atmosphere, with isolated tensions and relatively high voter turnout, in view of the fact that one political parties campaigned for a boycott of Presidential Elections.
According to MOST, unlike previous years, this campaign was much quieter, with greater attention paid to direct contacts with the citizens and door-to-door campaigning by the activists of the political parties.
One characteristic of the campaign were the rampant violations of the campaign silence rule – campaigning over the phone, in the social networks, in direct contact with the citizens, graffiti and distribution of promotional materials literally everywhere in the country. The two organizations registered abuse of children and youth in campaign activities.
“School administrations organized and encouraged the students to take part in the campaign rallies. A large number of high-school students were transported, in an organized manner, all over the country and their absence was not noted by the school administrations”, states Civil – Centre for Freedom.
Also, the non-governmental organizations that monitored the elections, the Voter Registry remains marred by series of inconsistencies and weaknesses that throw serious doubts about the quality of the whole electoral process.
The International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) of OSCE/ODIHR and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe also presented their preliminary findings and conclusions on the first round of the Presidential Elections. According to IEOM, the Presidential Elections were efficiently administered, with active electoral campaign.
“The candidate registration process was inclusive and candidates were able to campaign freely. Although fundamental freedoms were respected, bias media coverage and a blurring of state and party activities did not provide a level playing field for candidates to contest the election, contrary to paragraphs 5.4 of the 1990 OSCE Copenhagen Document and Council of Europe standards”, states IEOM in its preliminary statement.
The candidate of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE, Gjorge Ivanov, leads after the first round with 449,000 votes (51.67% of the voters that turned out to cast their votes). Second, with 326,000 votes (37.52%), a deficit of 123,000 votes, was the candidate of the opposition SDSM Stevo Pendarovski. The other two candidates, Iliaz Halimi from DPA and Zoran Popovski from GROM (Civil Option for Macedonia), won 4.5 and 3.58 percent of the votes, respectively.
The second round of the Presidential Elections, together with the Early Parliamentary Elections, will be held on April 27, 2014.
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