Comment 09 Dec 16

Macedonia’s Election Risks Emboldening Other Strongmen

If Macedonia’s ruling VMRO DPMNE party wins the December elections, anti-democratic forces in Southeastern Europe will have received an encouraging boost.

Florian Bieber
BIRN
Graz
A man walks past election posters of Nikola Gruevski, the leader of the ruing VMRO-DPMNE party, displayed along a street in Skopje. Photo: Boris Grdanoski/AP

The wiretapping scandal in Macedonia has revealed an alarming picture of “state capture”, to borrow the term that the European Commission used in its most recent report.

The leadership of the ruling party VMRO-DPMNE and its coalition partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, have taken control of Macedonian state, undermined the freedom of the media, the independence of the judiciary and basic democratic processes. Except for hard-core party activists, these revelations are beyond dispute.

The EU-appointed expert group under the competent leadership of Reinhard Priebe noted: “Essential standards of democratic governance have to be met.” To be clear, Macedonia under this ruling party is not a functioning democracy.

The coming general elections are not just part of the process leading out of the crisis but a referendum of sorts on the current situation.

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