Between responsibility, concentration of power and amnesty of crime
by: XHABIR DERALLA
The Macedonian political culture is filled with interesting phenomena that not always can be seen in countries with developed democracies. One of the Macedonian political specialties, apart from the frequent early parliamentary elections, is the culture of leaders’ meetings.
We have got used to, for decades now, for leaders’ meetings to be that “institution” where essential problems in our country are decided at. And there are not a small number of problems. We had leaders’ meetings also in 2001, when the military fire in our country was to be overcome. We also had leaders’ meetings when we had the territorial division. In order to overcome many serious and difficult political situations, again – leaders’ meetings.
Hence, there were leaders’ meeting after the Black Monday, December 24, 2012 when the special police beat opposition MPs and journalists in the Parliament. The crisis in 2015 was being overcome, again, through a leaders’ meeting and negotiations between parties in the so-called Przino process.
Just to be clear, in our country, leaders’ meetings are held that have much more serious consequences or results and effects than, let’s say, a Parliament does! The highest legislative institution in the state can’t boast with the kind of effects that leaders’ meetings have – a conclusion that perhaps is exaggerated, but not far from the truth.
Leaders’ meetings have become relatively regular after the fall of the regime, especially when it comes to issues related to elections, to reforms in the judiciary… Leaders’ meetings, usually unsuccessful, were also held during the process of adopting the Law on Public Prosecutor’s Office, when we saw the entire power, but also the entire irregularity of the “institution” leaders’ meetings, which are mostly directed at “softening” the criminal structures, registered as political parties.
When, in October last year, the leader of SDSM called for snap parliamentary elections two months later, that call failed, precisely because of the leaders’ meeting that followed. A decision was made at the leaders’ meeting contrary to the logic of what snap elections mean. And a leaders’ meeting is organized for determining a date for the elections, which the pandemic additionally postponed.
It’s a culture of gathering several of the most powerful politicians who decide on matters that should be part of a process, social and political, that should be carried out in the Parliament, in the public, in expert circles… It’s a practice of making decision from which everyone suffers the consequences later, and mostly the democracy, regardless of whether the outcome of such meetings is positive or negative. On the other hand, things that the Parliament should do, remain on the margins of social and political life.
Is the culture of leaders’ meetings actually a political culture, a culture of dialogue and consensus? Without a doubt, yes. Political dialogue in any democratic country is a very important process, inevitable! However, if it is reduced to leaders’ meetings, so that the voice of the opposition can be heard, when it’s done in such a format, with a very limited number of people among which huge power of decision-making is concentrated, the democratic tool is turned into a weapon against democracy. In such conditions, an irresponsible opposition can impose a pace of the process and lead towards decisions and processes that are outside of the institutions, while the responsibility is taken by those who manage the institutions, that is, those who are in power.
Such a practice is perhaps needed for a state that isn’t stable, where democracy is at a very low level. However, for a state that is democratic and is on the fast track towards the European Union, this shouldn’t be a practice. Leaders’ meetings could be at certain general levels, for certain general strategic purposes, to discuss issues that are not essential, since these are matters for the institutions.
At leaders’ meetings, at the end, winners are those who are in opposition. Regardless of the fact that it is considered that the responsibility for the decisions is shared, the responsibility, nevertheless, lies with those who manage the state institutions. Therefore, it’s worth giving a thought to whether the culture of leaders’ meetings will continue, or should a political culture be developed in which the rule of law comes first. Because the most destructive politicians are the ones who have the greatest benefit from such a practice, while those who are responsible for the strategic interests of the state suffer damage.
Not to mention the concentration of power that is typical for this manner of deciding on important issues in the country.
Let’s conclude… Every serious threat to democracy and to human rights and freedoms, strikes on the democratic institutions and on the peace and stability in the country, everything that according to the Constitution and laws provides for severe sanctions, is decided at a – leaders’ meeting. Secret or public, at gas stations, at the president’s office, at the government, at ambassadorial residencies, at unknown locations… But always with a limited presence of the public, and never with participation of someone who is not “big” enough.
Therefore, we have to accept the fact that they do not serve democracy and the rule of law…Leaders’ meetings are a bypassing of the system, and often are a way in which
informally political parties and their criminal structures are pardoned for the destruction and the crime.