Gruevski Plan to Boost Diaspora MPs Rebuffed

Macedonian Prime Minister's proposal to increase the number of MPs elected by the voters abroad meets cold response from opposition parties and NGOs.

Macedonian Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski | Photo by: MIA

A proposal to raise the number of diaspora MPs from three to 20 in the 123-seat parliament has met a cold response from the main opposition Social Democrats.

The Social Democrats said the idea, presented as the parties mull electoral changes ahead of the snap elections set for next April, was “a plan to avoid electoral defeat” on the part of the ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

MOST, the NGO at the forefront of Macedonia’s electoral monitoring process, said if the plan was adopted, Macedonia would hold a world record, with 14.3 per cent of its MPs elected abroad.

The current record holder is Cape Verde with 8.3 per cent. The European average is some 2 per cent.

“Voting in the diaspora should be suspended for the next elections because, this way, people’s votes do not have the same value,” Teodora Popovska from MOST said.

She noted that only some 11,000 people from abroad voted in last year’s snap general polls, which meant that their votes counted for much more than those of domestic voters in term of the number of parliamentary seats they elected.

For instance, the MP elected from Australia was elected by only about 900 people.

Pavle Trajanov, whose small opposition Democratic Alliance party until recently was part of Gruevski’s government, said that “it would be a nonsense for let’s say 3,000 people from the diaspora… to choose 20 legislators.”

This was the secod time recently that Gruevski’s proposal was rebuffed by most politicians and experts. In August he proposed granting the winning party in the election 17 extra seats to ensure stable government.

Ongoing EU facilitated inter-party talks on the electoral model and other reforms that need to be implemented by the April elections are part of an EU-brokered political deal this summer aimed at ending a political crisis in the country.

The crisis revolves around allegations of mass illegal surveillance. The opposition says that tapes which they have been releasing since February showed that Prime Minister Gruevski was behind the illegal surveillance of some 20,000 people, including government ministers.

The tapes appeared to reveal the government’s direct involvement in election fraud and abuse of the justice system and media.

Gruevski, who has been in power since 2006, has insisted that the compromising tapes were “created” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise the country.