The latest electricity price hike, that was apparently timed for just after the elections, makes the prices in Macedonia second highest in Europe – when compared to the average salaries.

The ruling SDSM party, which campaigned heavily focusing on its welfare transfers which include subsidized electricity prices, sent out opinion makers to try to cushion the blow of the price hike. Their main claim is that the prices in Macedonia are lowest in Europe.

That is technically true, but only if we ignore the fact that Macedonian average salaries are also among the lowest in Europe. Once the two data points are compared, Macedonians are revealed the highest prices in Europe, except only for Romania. Richer EU countries, where electricity is most expensive, such as Denmark and Germany, also have much higher wages, making the energy cost much lower as a share of income compared to what Macedonians are expected to pay.

VMRO-DPMNE spokesman Naum Stoilkovski said that the price hike will cost the average family up to 500 denars more per month, once the taxes are included.

This may amount to between 100 and 200 EUR more from the annual family budget, Stoilkovski said. “SDSM insists that the electricity prices are low, but they don’t account for our living standards. Most countries in the region – Bulgaria, Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bosnia, have lower electricity prices”.

VMRO-DPMNE said that abuses in the state run energy companies, including the hiring of SDSM party activists ahead of the elections, are increasing the costs and lead to the push to hike the energy prices.