• Friday, 24 May 2024

Presidential debate: Promises for a better future, opposing views on constitutional changes

Presidential debate: Promises for a better future, opposing views on constitutional changes

Skopje, 21 April 2024 (MIA) — At a presidential debate aired by the national public broadcaster on Sunday evening, the seven candidates presented their election platforms, all of them promising to improve the living standard in the country, prevent corruption, and stop the emigration of young people. Speaking about changing the Constitution, however, they voiced opposing views.

President Stevo Pendarovski, who is backed by the SDSM-led coalition in his reelection bid, said he would demand the President have more competences.

"I had a principle when I started my term in office. It would be unprincipled not to ask for more competences. The suspensive veto should be turned into an absolute veto," Pendarovski said.

Regarding other changes to the Constitution, he said the Constitution should not be completely changed but regarding the EU, he was resolute that it should be amended.

He said the country was still divided and that one of his commitments was to try to reduce this rift. "At one time, there was a huge gap between ethnic communities, especially between Macedonians and Albanians. In the past 10-15 years, there has been a rift between the Macedonians themselves. Unfortunately, some were not ready to take that step toward each other, and some were instructed by political parties not to do it."


VMRO-DPMNE's coalition presidential candidate Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova said the nation lacked unity regardless of any affiliation. She also said what was missing was high officials acting with dignity, good health care, and good welfare services.

Asked about amending the Constitution with a new Preamble honoring the rights of communities, Siljanovska-Davkova said fundamental constitutional changes should be made.

"First, everywhere, the balance between the three powers is disrupted in favor of the executive. In our country, it is particularly disrupted. The problem is that you have two governments, and not one government; two parliaments in which there is no communication. Fundamental constitutional changes need to be made," Siljanovska-Davkova said.

According to the GROM presidential candidate Stevcho Jakimovski, a good politician thinks of future generations.

"Fear mainly comes from bad results and not wanting to deal with real problems. Fear comes from ignorance. There is a lack of education. Increasing contributions to health insurance. The administration is too big. Our fear is that we will not enter the EU and we should have a deadline, 2030. If we do not make it, we should stay bravely on that path. Improve the standard of living," Jakimovski said.

The DUI-led European Front presidential candidate Bujar Osmani said the President should have two qualities: experience and a vision for the future.

On the request that the President be elected in Parliament with a two-thirds majority, Osmani said the current election represented "an additional escalation."

"Most presidents were not addressed by the opposition as President. In an inclusive process, there will be depolarization in the Macedonian bloc, while also including everyone else in making this decision. In the spirit of the Ohrid Framework Agreement," Osmani said.

According to Levica presidential candidate Biljana Vankovska, society needs a radical change by detecting problems at the root, and science would provide all the tools.

"We followed one path in 1991, another path in 2001. I am in favor of a new Constitution, given all these flaws the constitutional order shows, but also the procedure itself. If in 2001 it was the cause of war, now it is the cause of a catastrophe," Vankovska said.

Worth It coalition presidential candidate Arben Taravari said that as Gostivar Mayor he succeeded in achieving good cohesion between all ethnic communities.

Regarding the Albanian language being official on the entire territory of the country, he said demography was as it was and people had to live with it.

"Four or five percent of Serbs live in Kosovo and their language is used throughout the territory. After 50 years, we are talking about whether he should use 20 or 30 percent," Taravari said.

ZNAM Movement presidential candidate Maksim Dimitrievski, speaking about changing the Constitution, recalled that it had been written on Nov. 17, 1991.

"[Robert] Badinter said it was one of the best, then post-socialist [Constitutions]. I believe it is not necessary to change the Constitution. However, we cannot allow a collapse of the unity of the state or a hidden transformation from a simple to a complex type of state organization. Our political elite, motivated by lucrative deals, keeps making concessions," Dimitrievski said. mr/