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Najchevska: Tvoja’s voters are people who want plurality, rather than two-party system

Introducing proportional responsibility for politicians and top officials, reanimating the environment, investing in education, professional administration and the right to quality standards for living are the five key principles on which Tvoja Partija (Your Party) is founded on and which the party is promoting ahead of the July 15 early parliamentary elections, says Mirjana Najchevska, first candidate on Tvoja Partija's list in the first electoral district.

Skopje, 3 July 2020 (MIA) – Introducing proportional responsibility for politicians and top officials, reanimating the environment, investing in education, professional administration and the right to quality standards for living are the five key principles on which Tvoja Partija (Your Party) is founded on and which the party is promoting ahead of the July 15 early parliamentary elections, says Mirjana Najchevska, first candidate on Tvoja Partija’s list in the first electoral district.

In an interview with MIA, she says Tvoja is a green party, which has attracted many supporters despite their different ideologies.

Read the full interview and watch the video below:

Tvoja Partija is one of the few emerging political parties that will run in parliamentary elections for the first time. As the election campaign is already under way, will you present briefly your election program?

We’ve taken a different approach when it comes to election programs. We don’t even call it election program, we have election priorities, because we think that election programs shouldn’t be written on 200, 300, 500 pages.

An election program should consist of principles, values, guidelines, which, I hope as future MP will use to design politics. We would work on overall development of the country. As a result, we’ve decided to come out with election priorities derived from our general program, which we believe cover almost all areas where actions are needed in the coming period in Macedonia.

One of the priorities involves accountability, first and foremost, politicians and top officials bearing accountability – the higher the post the higher responsibility and higher charges.

The second priority refers to reanimating the environment. Our initial point is that our environment is dead and we need to offer solution to reanimate it. We champion a very complex approach and we perceive this matter as a puzzle consisting of attacks on large polluters, of measures which will make environment pollution quite unprofitable. There are also programs to attack poverty, being a key element that contributes to ruining our environment and unwillingness to deal with some of the challenges. Furthermore, putting climate change of the agenda. No one talks about this in the country, even though it could drastically affect many areas, including agriculture. Infrastructure is also included here as well as decetralization to allow all places outside the capital Skopje to flourish after getting adequate infrastructural connection.

Education is the third element. Our party demands education is not treated as an expense, but as an investment. We’ll advocate for at least six per cent of the GDP to be invested in education in order to come close to what European countries are singling out for education.

The fourth one is professionalism, i.e. making public administration more professional. Here, we’ll use the word professionalism instead of partisation. We also stand for a very strict merit system, a system of rules, procedures and criteria allowing real professionals to be appointed to the posts they are qualified for. This doesn’t mean that the merit system should be overshadowed by the equal representation system. On the contrary, equal representation should upgrade the merit system, which would allow the multi-cultural character of our country to be addressed.

And the final element is that all citizens in Macedonia have the right to quality living standards. Standards that include all the parameters imaginable in the 21st century – access to top IT inventions, adequate healthcare, to education. Of course, special attention will be paid to citizens in vulnerable categories, especially the elderly, people with disabilities and gender equality, too. In a nutshell, these are the five priorities.

Somehow these principles are compatible with all the challenges Macedonia has to address on its EU integration path.

That’s right, what has been starling to us is that our political parties still don’t know what politics is. Politics isn’t mere promotion of projects and solutions – it’s the institutions’ job.

A political party vying for power in fact fights for certain principles and certain values. It should offer systemic changes making it easy for the institutions together with the citizens in their interest to find the best solution. In our country, political parties have been reduced to promoting projects, as if they are non-governmental organizations. It’s not the job of a political party to make projects, it should create conditions for institutions, or some kind of structure in power or not to implement adequate projects.

Tvoja’s symbol is a green tree. Does it make you a green party?

Definitively yes. One of the main elements many people – be it far-left, far-right, center, etc – have rallied around is the green option. We want to promote two principles that seem to have been neglected in the country. Firstly, the European principle of being cautious with the environment. Every time there’s suspicion that some policy or an action can cause irreparable damage to the environment, it has to be stopped until it’s proven it won’t happen again. The second element we are promoting is to ensure that the polluter is the one who pays for the damage and restore it in its original state.

We’ll definitely aim to promote a policy of demotivating large polluters. We don’t think that the citizens are the main cause for the alarming pollution. Of course, there are those who are careless, but the pollution in Macedonia is a result of the work of thermal power plants, inadequate handling of waste, concessions awarded to quarries, the cutting of forest trees, which isn’t done illegally, it is being done by the state.

Economy will prove to be the greatest challenge in the coming period having in mind the consequences from the coronavirus crisis. What projects your party would offer to improve the economy and the well-being of the citizens?

As I’ve said, we are not focused on projects. We think that legal safety is what could improve the economy most, because law are being amended frequently. Also, support to the national economy, especially small and medium-sized companies. We are in favor of foreign investments but only if they know to work for the national economy. To us, the state is something that creates conditions for the economy to prosper, it isn’t an employer or the main provider of funds in the economy.

The country is organizing elections in unprecedented conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Your party has decided to run a campaign on electronic media and social network, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. You don’t organize direct meetings with the voters. Who are your voters? Who would vote for Tvoja?

We’re not doing this because of the pandemic. Our party is designed as an internet party. We have no HQs, we don’t hand out flyers. Our structure is very horizontal so the party is something in between a political party and a non-governmental organization. Our target group are all those who think they can contribute and who want to have a structure like Tvoja Partija, where they can promote their interests and needs if the party wins seats.

Our target group is the people who think that Macedonia needs plurality rather than two-party system.

Do you think the election campaign is marred by fake news and smear propaganda, as if it is lacking political culture? Also, audio recordings are being leaked frequently.

It show there’s lack of understanding of what politics is, what should be offered. That’s why everything is reduced to bickering and accusations of who has stolen how much money, who has lied, etc. It’s also the result of the culture of impunity existing in Macedonia.

DUI as part of its campaign has presented its candidate for first Albanian prime minister, the candidate is Naser Ziberi. What do you think of DUI’s strategy? What could it mean for Albanian voters in the country?

I think it is a very funny strategy that aims to conceal the fact that DUI hasn’t done anything of importance for all citizens, from the Macedonian community and the Albanian community, too. What made me think is the way VMRO-DPMNE and SDSM reacted to it. All of a sudden, they started trading lawmakers – who’s going to give lawmakers to the other to stop it. As if lawmakers are goods for trading.

You are a professor, an activist, human rights expert and a member of many international bodies of experts on human rights and fight against discrimination. You were also a member of the board of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Macedonia and an activist of the Colored Revolution – the protest movement against the policies of the ex-PM Nikola Gruevski’s government. What inspired you to get involved in politics?

It’s something I haven’t tried before. I’ve been part of non-governmental organizations from very early on, I’ve come as far as I could and I simply told myself to try and act this way, because we are obviously  stuck in a two-party system. We have to sever the ties from undemocratic principles and from downplaying the role of Parliament. So, I said to myself let’s give it a go and by doing so to motivate all other professionals – and there are many in all political parties – who are ignored in their parties.

Finally, what is your message for the readers of MIA.

I think people should not be guided by the principle that a vote for a small party is a lost vote. It’s not true, it’s a vote in favor of plurality in the country, which was the starting point when building an independent Macedonia. It’s about time that we implement it.

Violeta Gerov

Translated by Bisera Altiparmakova

Photos: Ivana Batev

Video: Aslan Vishko

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