With the first round of the presidential elections a week from now, the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party accused the SDSM – DUI led Government of using public funds to bribe its voters. This despite laws put in place specifically to prevent timing of regularly scheduled payments or having new public sector hirings in the pre-election period – moves which are meant to improve public support for the ruling parties.

In violation of the law, more than 1.25 million EUR were paid to over 2.000 grape farmers after the election campaign began. We are not talking about farm subsidies – the money was appropriated to cover debts private vineries owe to the farmers. This is a clear violation of the Electoral code, VMRO-DPMNE said in a press release.

Besides violations on the national level, important municipalities are specifically targeted in this way. One of them is Novo Selo, where on top of the presidential elections, citizens are voting for a new Mayor after Boro Petrov, the SDSM incumbent, was arrested smuggling cigarettes to Bulgaria. The acting Mayor of this small rural municipality ordered the employment of 10 new municipal workers despite the ban on public sector hirings during the campaign.

In other municipalities, like in Stip, municipal authorities were seen handing out firewood to poor families in a clear attempt to buy their votes.

We expect the Anti-corruption commission to act urgently against this abuse of office, VMRO-DPMNE demands.