Home Page
 
News 22 Sep 17

Macedonia Opposition Demands Referendums on Migrants

Macedonia's main opposition party is demanding the right to hold municipal referendums against a supposed plan to settle Middle Eastern refugees in the country on the same day as the October local elections.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Refugees in Macedonia. Archive photo: BIRN

Macedonia's opposition VMRO DPMNE party is pushing to hold local referendums on the same day in October as the local elections, on a supposed government plan to settle thousands of migrants from the Middle East in various towns.

Bitola, Stip, Radovish, Prilep, Kocani, Negotino, Kavadarci and Gevgelija are just some of the 20 municipalities that have adopted decisions to holding referendums against the alleged plan – which the new Social Democrat-led government says does not exist.

"We demand that the State Electoral Commission, DIK, allow these referendums on October 15 because many citizens have already stood up against the government plan's to settle refugees," VMRO DPMNE said in a press statement.

While no one contests the right to hold such local referendums, the party's insistence on holding them on October 15, the day of the local elections, is seen as problematic.

"Carrying out of these two things in tandem creates a problem. I think it is against the electoral rules because it would upset the [election] procedure," law professor Osman Kadriu said on Wednesday.

"A referendum is carried out under different rules and procedures from an election. It would be unacceptable for them to take place on the same day," Kadriu added.

Pro-VMRO DPMNE media have made much of the planned supposed settlement of migrants from the war-torn Middle East in various towns.

After losing power nationally in May, in July the party accused the new government of adopting a new draft strategy for dealing with refugees and migrants which it claimed contained a plan to settle thousands of refugees from the Middle East in Macedonia.

The government has denied this as a lie intended to skew the outcome of the local elections, and has accused the opposition for spreading alarm and false information.

Despite that, municipalities under VMRO DPMNE control have gone ahead with adopting decisions to hold referendums against the alleged plan.

Deputy Minister for Local Government Dragan Tevdovski on Wednesday said he had nothing against referendums.

However, he suggested they should take place on a separate, later date, in order for the people to get better informed about the issues first.

"The goal of a democracy is to organize elections in which people can freely choose, and the institutions and the country must do everything to protect that process," he said.

"On the other hand, the referendum is also a constitutional category about which every functional democracy should take maximum care," Tevdovski added.

The State Electoral Commission, DIK, has not yet discussed the issue.

During the refugee crisis in 2015, about a million refugees crossed Macedonia and then Serbia on their way to EU countries.

A few of them, some 200 in all, remain stranded in Macedonia – around 130 in the migrant camp in Gevgelija and another 80 in Tabanovce, on the northern border with Serbia.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

kosovo-citizens-to-vote-for-direct-improvement-on-municipal-election-10-20-2017
22 Oct 17

Kosovars Spy Hope of Change in Local Elections

As people throughout Kosovo get ready to vote in Sunday's municipal elections, surveys show that most of them hope the result will bring about positive changes for their families and communities.

20 Oct 17

Winds of Change

20 Oct 17

‘Political War’ in Moldova Threatens Army

20 Oct 17

Kosovo Readies for Sunday's Local Elections

Premium Selection

political-war-in-moldova-threatens-army-10-20-2017
20 Oct 17

‘Political War’ in Moldova Threatens Army

Moldova's military forces could be the next collateral damage from the country’s growing internal political crisis, experts warn.

louder-than-guns-croatia-s-wartime-patriotic-singers-10-18-2017
20 Oct 17

‘Louder than Guns’: Croatia’s Patriotic Wartime Singers

A new documentary about huge number of Croatian patriotic songs recorded during the 1990s conflict shows how musicians volunteered their talents to support the ‘Homeland War’ for independence.

19 Oct 17

EU Mulls Lower Roaming Charges for Balkans

17 Oct 17

Referendum Pledge Haunts Bosnian Serb Supremo