Saturday, 16 December 2017 | News today: 0

Chairman of SEC against diaspora voting

It should be known that the works of the Electoral Code were interrupted by the scheduling of the presidential elections, but with the government's promise to insert all remarks by OCSE/ODIHR and the opposition for the parliamentary elections. That did not happen

President of the State Election Commission (SEC)  Nikola Rilkovski came in office following the resignation of the chairman Boris Kondarko, which was announced two day earlier by his party SDSM. In the interview with Republika, Rilkovski is rather careful with his answers and does not go into details in interpreting the law. What amazes is that Rilkovski considers the Electoral Code as not a good solution, even though it was adopted at SDSM request, while VMRO-DPMNE accepted all legal solutions from the opposition without reserves. SEC’s first man claims that so far he has had no pressure in his work by either of the parties.

Is SEC prepared to ensure fair and democratic elections?

Rilkovski: In regard to the activities under SEC’s authority, there are absolutely no problems. We have work meetings and sessions on a daily basis, where we strictly respect the set date for the presidential elections in Macedonia, April 13, 2014, respectively, at the same time preparing all those, I would say, technical things, or more precisely various decisions, templates, resolutions and formats necessary for the early parliamentary elections. However, whether the elections will be fair and democratic is not up to SEC, but up to many other factors as well as the participants in the election process.

Are you afraid of election-related incidents and violations of the Electoral Code?

Rilkovski: I already said, the incidents are not up to SEC, nor SEC is a constitutional body responsible for the public order and security in the pre-election campaign and the election day. In terms of the violations of the Electoral Code, there are already certain allegations that someone has started the election campaign too soon, and if the Electoral Code is nor respected, you know, there are sanctions for the perpetrators, regardless if they are from the ruling party or the opposition.

Do you believe that, finally, we have an Electoral Code that fulfills OSCE recommendations and the wishes of the opposition?

Rilkovski: First of all, it should be known that the works of the Electoral Code were interrupted by the scheduling of the presidential elections, but with the government’s promise to insert all remarks by OCSE/ODIHR and the opposition for the parliamentary elections. In addition, among other things, it was also about increasing the census for the terms of the diaspora MPs. There is no justification for which ever diaspora candidate to become a MP with 500 votes, when is perfectly known that everybody on the lists of MPs for the parliamentary elections in the country needs between 9.000 and 10,000 votes.

Does the new Electoral Code enable regular elections?

Rilkovski: I repeat, the Electoral Code is one thing, while the regularity of the elections is totally a another thing. It does not depend on the Electoral Code at all, but mainly depends on the participants on the elections and eventually on those who keep the public order and, by definition, they should prevent possible violations of the regular course of the voting.

VMRO-DPMNE ha accepted all SDSM requirements in regard to the changes of the Electoral Code. Do you believe that some of them are a step backwards, as for example marking voters with visible ink?

Rilkovski: Now I cannot comment on whether, as you say, the use of visible ink to mark the voters will be a step backwards or not. VMRO-DPMNE also accepted this novelty, and the application of the visible ink will go will be noticed at the voting. Personally, I do not think of this novelty as something old-fashioned.

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What do you think, could the marking of the voters’ hands with ink be avoided so that we would not be compared to some African countries as now?

Rilkovski: When the use of spray was in practice, there were also comments that its was unworthy marking of the voters. In the end, visible ink is not a permanent mark. However, if VMRO-DPMNE thought that the solution will put us on the same level with the African countries, it could just not accept our request.

The Government has accepted all requests of the opposition regarding the Electoral Code, but still is there something not clear in the Code, which would be the reason for complaints after the elections?

Rilkovski: I said that the census for obtaining a MP term in the diaspora remains an open question. And I stress that those were not only SDSM’s requests, but of OSCE/ODIHR as well. Regarding the complains and remarks by the participants in the elections, we can discuss that after April 13 and April 27, when both types of elections are over.

Now even DUI complained about the Macedonians from Pustec. Do they have the right to vote? Where should they vote?

Rilkovski: We are going to talk about DUI’s requests in terms of the electoral roll at a work meeting and then at a session, so I would not like to talk about this before revising all submissions.

Do you expect DUI members in SEC to cause any problems?

Rilkovski: I see no reason why SEC would expect problems with DUI. The ruling coalition still functions, you can see for yourself if there is going to be any dissent between them during SEC’s public sessions.

SDSM has filed a complaint for 20,000 fictitious voters countrywide. To what extent is this number real and how can it be purged in three days?

Rilkovski: Same thing I replied about DUI’s requests concerning the electoral roll goes for SDSM and I would not want to comment on it beforehand.

Has SEC registered any Election Code breaches up to date?

Rilkovski: Two appeals have been submitted to SEC so far by one of the political parties referring to Article 69, we will decide on our stand after we review them.

Does any political party makes any pressure on your work?

Rilkovski: My reply is short – NO!

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Before early elections were scheduled you warned on parallel elections being a problem for SEC. How did the Commission overcome the problem? More importantly, was there any need of press-conferences to expound the problem, rather then SEC showing its capacity for facing the challenge, just like it did after the Assembly President reacted?

Rilkovski: Scheduling presidential elections and early parliamentary elections simultaneously did not depend on SEC at all. Neither did the interpretation of the Election Code. Macedonian Assembly President was supposed to pay attention to dates and overlapping, just like he paid attention avoid Election days being on Easter. Whether there was any need of my press-conference, allow me, as SEC President, to decide on that.

There are going to be two electoral rolls on this elections because of the different insight deadlines. To what extent this complicates SEC’s work and does it leave space for irregularities?

Rilkovski: Yes, there are going to be two different electoral rolls on this elections. However, I will point out Article 49 from the Election Code to avoid any confusion: the Ministry of Interior submits the list of citizens eligible to be in the Electoral Roll to the State Election Commission, Basic Courts submit to SEC the lists of citizens who are legally denied the right to vote and the list of citizens under house arrest. MoI submits this data to SEC 4 times a year, as well as  on the day after the elections have been scheduled. Hence, SEC bears no responsibility for electoral roll data authenticity, but we only forward this data to the State Statistical Office. In other words, we only have a technical role in the electoral roll and SEC cannot verify MoI data authenticity.

Is publishing reports on the work Election Code breach? What is disputable in parties stating what have they done for citizens?

Rilkovski: We will inform whether it is disputable or not after we review the appeals.

What is the procedure on coordination with MoI for the Election Days preparation?

Rilkovski: There is a Regulation on police actions during elections, prepared in cooperation with MoI.

Have the past flaws been corrected, such as waiting for election results for ten days?

Rilkovski: Election results have never been awaited for ten days. Immediately after closing of the voting period the votes counting results are being published in the press-center and on our web-page for maximum transparency. There are deadlines in the Election Code, according to which SEC announces the results.

Do you expect any issues with the diaspora voting, considering the increased number of registered voters this time?

Rilkovski: Firstly, I do not know how did you get an information on increased number of diaspora voters compared to the past? 9,348 Macedonian citizens who temporarily work abroad have registered for voting on the presidential elections, and 8,311 of them fulfill the voting criteria. There is an opportunity for voting in 47 diplomatic and consular representations worldwide, but only 34 of them will be open for the presidential elections due to no voters who have registered to vote in this offices or their number was below 10, a rule stipulated with the Election Code as voting criteria in the diplomatic and consular representation in question.

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By: Naum Stoilkovski

Photo: Aleksandar Ivanovski