Macedonian Ministers Told to Lie Low in Elections

Macedonia’s government is mulling recommendations from the OSCE’s election body, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, that ministers stop abusing their official positions during election campaigns.The ODIHR says that during election campaigns, ministers should perform only “technical duties”, and not appear at public events such as openings or ground breaking ceremonies.This is to ensure a “clear distinction between the state and the political parties”.

The ODIHR also says the law should be clear about what a “technical duty” means, so that no loopholes are misused.

The advice is now being considered by a joint group working on changes to the electoral code, comprising experts, representatives of the State Electoral Commission, political parties and the Broadcasting Council.

The Ministry of Justice said that if the working group accepts the changes, they will be conveyed to the government, which will them submit them to parliament.

The first reading of the changes in parliament could take place before the end of September, before the scheduled visit of the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Stefan Fuele.

After the 2011 June snap general election, the ODIHR monitoring mission came out with generally positive remarks on the process.

However, one shortcoming that they noted were the regular appearances of government officials at public events just before or during the election campaign.

The opposition also complained about this, saying that the ministers were misusing their office, posing for the cameras during the campaign.

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