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Representative Democracy
read in Macedonian


Representative democracy is a system whereby the people of a country are represented in the government of the country through their representatives.  The Founding Document of today’s Republic of Macedonia, the Constitution, states this: “The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia exercise their authority through democratically elected Representatives.”  Those democratically elected Representatives are chosen through the ballot box, at a state level, every four years, as again, provided for by the Constitution.  The opening line of Article 63 states “The Representatives for the Assembly are elected for a term of four years.”

The competition through the ballot box is affected through political parties offering their candidates for such office and through the campaigns they conduct.  Almost 18 months ago, in June of 2011, a parliamentary election was agreed to by the ruling party at the request of the opposition, despite the fact that parliamentary elections had been held only three years prior to that in June of 2008 and prior to that, only two years before in June of 2006 when the current ruling party was elected to form a government.  In the next two elections, the people spoke and returned the government to power, thus stating that the majority of the citizens believed the ruling party had better ideas and plans for moving Macedonia forward.

In the most recent parliamentary elections, in June 2011, the opposition won almost 370,000 votes.  In other words, 370,000 citizens believed that the opposition had a plan for Macedonia and elected them to be the loyal opposition.  In fact the opposition has put forward some useful ideas: during the recent debate on the budget, over 40 amendments proposed by the opposition were agreed to by the Government, the point being that the opposition cannot say their voice is not heard.

Today, however, Macedonia is in a situation where the opposition itself is deliberately silencing its own voice in parliament by refusing to represent the people who elected them.  They have abandoned parliament, called for early parliamentary elections, demanded changes in the current governing ministries and are now engaging in the petty blockades of traffic here and there, which merely raises the temperatures of those trying to get to work by car or public transport, and does nothing to win support for the opposition.  To say nothing of what blocking traffic does from a safety aspect for first responders such as ambulances and the fire department.

The international community has aligned with the Government stating that the opposition should get back into parliament.  The heads of the US and EU in Macedonia released a statement in mid-January stating “Parliament is the primary forum for addressing and resolving issues and debate in a parliamentary democracy. We therefore encourage the opposition to return to Parliament to represent the large number of citizens who cast ballots in support of opposition parties in the most recent parliamentary elections. Every democracy needs a strong and active opposition.”  A strong and active opposition means one that is actively participating in government.  It does not mean actively blocking traffic on the streets. And a strong and active opposition means one that has Macedonia’s best interests in mind.  But an opposition sitting out of parliament, blocking traffic and calling for new elections every 18 months sends a very negative signal to many, including those in the international business community thinking of investing in Macedonia; and this is not in Macedonia’s best interests.

Campaigns and elections are exhausting.  In the United States, we seem to be in perpetual campaign mode, with members of the House of Representatives (the lower house of Congress) being elected every two years and, literally, keeping their campaigns open all the time (the actual campaigning, in terms of billboards, mail, TV advertisements, etc. is regulated by law at the state level, but members are always raising money and campaigning in some form or another).  We have just gone through a presidential election that lasted, in many ways, at least two years.  And Americans are tired of it.  We want our elected representatives to govern, and to govern responsibly.  Macedonians want no less; Macedonians elected their representatives to represent them in parliament, not to walk out.  And not to call for new elections every 18 months.

The upcoming local elections are no different and oftentimes, it is the local elections that matter most.  Your local mayors and city councils are made up of people you know, people you went to school with, people you worship with, and people you enjoy meals with.  Local government is closest to the people that cast their ballots and can often be quicker when responding to the legitimate needs of the citizens.

The citizenry deserve and demand to be represented through elected representatives.  The message to the opposition is a simple one: Put a plan forth for taking the country forward.  Let your ideas for moving Macedonia onward and upward and for creating jobs, educating children, and building local communities be made known to the people in a straightforward campaign.  And let the people decide who has the best ideas for Macedonia.

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Jason Miko
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