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ACCENTS The elections, simply, have to be free

On Global Election Day, it is time to recall that Republic of Macedonia, since its independence, has been facing countless challenges in the election processes. The democratic character of the elections was erased, especially during the eleven years of the ruling of VMRO-DPMNE and DUI, when the election processes were everything but free, fair and democratic. In the frequent election processes, the voting right was violated and manipulated in countless ways, while the elections were carried out through electoral theft, political corruption, structural violence and fierce abuse of power.

The electoral administration, headed by the State Election Commission, often was just another institution that has been both the cause and perpetrator of irregularities. Despite the reforms that were part of the Agreement for overcoming the political crisis, concluded in 2015, the SEC did not manage to rise above the daily political needs of the parties, whose loyal representatives are, actually, in the core of this institution. Thus, instead of an institution that maximally secures the right to vote, the SEC became a generator of the violation of the right to vote, and even more so during the appeals procedures by individuals and political parties, in which other institutions as well, starting with the Administrative Court, played their infamous role.

Recently, the public learned about the corruptive practices and abuses in this institution, after which the members of the SEC resigned, leaving the institution headless for a longer time.

Even though at this moment it seems as a distant and unachievable vision, we have to insist that the right to vote is at the basis of the election processes around the world and in our country.

The right to vote is a fundamental human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the contemporary international right regulate this right as a fundamental right of every person on this planet. Every democratic country in the world has an obligation to establish a general and equal right to vote for all of its citizens, through direct and secret voting to participate in the creating of the policies and practices of their country.

Elections are the main pillar and the highest values of democracy, whereas the state and the institutions in each country have an ultimate obligation to provide the right to vote to every citizen. The elected representatives in the legislature houses, institutions and the politicians are all obligated to serve the interests of the community and the individuals in the country. After all, that is also the main goal of the election processes in which the candidates, both independent and those of political parties, compete before the voters with their political programs and promises to improve the lives of people and to implement democratic standards, the rule of law and the respect for human rights and freedoms.

Citizen education about the right to vote is one of the obligations of the institutions, and especially of the media. Without free media, we cannot expect free elections. The Voters register in which the citizens have trust, is another one of the preconditions for implementing legitimate election processes. Freeing the citizens from fear and intimidation, dealing decisively with political corruption and abuse of

public resources and of the administration, are all essentially important for holding free elections. The citizens need to be have the central and most important place in the election processes. All the other factors, such as the state institutions and the political parties have to be in their service, and in no such way vice versa. The legitimacy of the government draws from the degree of the legitimacy of the election processes. They, simply, have to be free.

Xhabir Deralla

President of CIVIL – Center for Freedom

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