VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski said that it is not possible to hold elections before July 30, given that economic measures put in place by the Government need time to be implemented. Election rules strictly prohibit additional welfare spending in the run up to the elections, and much of the planned stimulus is now transformed into just such welfare spending.

If we hold elections in June, the stimulus program won’t be implemented, Mickoski said, pointing to the request from the ruling SDSM party that the vote takes place on June 21. “If the Government is being honest with the public, it should state that the promises and the pledges of the second and third stimulus package won’t be implemented. It will take 60 days after the end of the state of emergency to implement them, pushing us to July 30”.

Mickoski pointed out that only a little over 17.800 companies received the promised financial support from the stimulus package, which is 2,5 times under projections. In response, the Government is moving toward hiking up welfare spending, and the latest “stimulus” package is not meant to help companies tackle the epidemic but will simply give vouchers to poorer households.

The Government believes that this will buy it the support of the voters. But if the state of emergency expires and the elections resume automatically, as the SDSM party insists should happen, then all these payments fall under the category of criminal vote buying in the pre-election period which is punishable by at least five years in prison, Mickoski explained.

The opposition party calls for elections in August or September, after the coronavirus crisis has been sufficiently resolved. Asked whether diplomats are interfering in the negotiations about the election date, Mickoski said tha the has no such information. “That is part of the speculations and misinformation that are usually spread in the public”.