Voting of the Macedonian Diaspora in the Parliamentary Elections in Republic of Macedonia

Thesis (M.A.), 2014

63 Pages, Grade: 10


Table of Contents


1.1 Subject of research
1.2 Purpose of the research
1.3 Research questions and methods of research
1.5 Structure of the master thesis

2.1. Referendum on independence
2.2 Creating the election policy in independent Macedonia
2.2.1 Actors in creating and implementing the election policy
2.3 Macedonian diaspora

3.1 Legal acts in Republic of Macedonia
3.1.1 Constitution of Republic of Macedonia
3.1.2 Electoral code
3.1.3 Other laws
3.2 International acts

4.1 Universal Suffrage
4.2.1 Equal voting rights and equal voting power
4.2.2 Equal rights for parties and candidates
4.3 Free suffrage



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The elections as a process of transferring the sovereignty from the people to the elected representatives appear in ancient Greece, more precisely in the period called pre-modern state which lasted until XVIII century. Of course, there is a difference between the elections in the modern democracies from that time and today, but essentially they retained the several reasons why they appeared at first place. The elections, above all, are a manner of achieving the civil unquestioned will to be governed, than the elections are “a totality of legal and political processes”, which take place in pre and post-election period, and finally they are a democratic act of selection and organization of the holders of power (Klimovski et al., 2012, 307-310).

In the modern countries, including Republic of Macedonia, the right to vote, specifically the electoral right is a guaranteed by the constitution and belongs to the political freedoms and rights of the human and citizen. These fundamental political rights and freedoms are closely related and regulated with the electoral policy. The implementation of the electoral policy affects the state authority’s legitimacy and its institutions (Risteska and Daskalovski 2009, 10). The electoral policy’ legal framework is composed of: Constitution of Republic of Macedonia, Electoral Code, Law on Members of Parliament, etc. The 1991 Constitution of Republic of Macedonia, adopted after the declaration of its independence, completely transformed the previously set constitutionality within the Social Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY in the futher text). The Constitution’s fundamental values in the form of 11 basic principles are contained in separate indents in Article 8, including the new benchmark of constitutionality: political pluralism and free democratic elections (Klimovski et al.,202).

The people receive sovereignty and the right to vote with this new constitutional benchmark, which historically, from ancient Athens, is one of the oldest human rights manifesting free, immediate and democratic elections.

Based on this right, Republic of Macedonia allows its citizens, whether residing in the territory of Republic of Macedonia or abroad, to participate in the parliamentary elections and to have their own representatives in the national parliament, making Macedonia one of the few countries in world (France, Italy, Portugal, Croatia) that formally or effectively have institutionalized the special representation of the immigrants in the national parliaments (Kasapovic 2010, 15-16).

In 2008 the Law on Amending the Electoral Code was adopted, by which the citizens of Republic of Macedonia on temporary work and residence abroad gained their right to vote on the parliamentary and presidential elections in Republic of Macedonia. [1]

Macedonian diaspora consists of Macedonian citizens who emigrated abroad for economic, political and other reasons. The number of immigrants is about 475,314 to 508,828, geographically displaced almost all continents, with the largest concentration in Europe, America, Australia (Emigration Agency of Republic of Macedonia). The first electoral participation of the immigrants occurred on the Independence Referendum of Republic of Macedonia from the former SFRY that was very significant for the success of the referendum and for the process of independence itself. It also justifies the lawful and legal regulation of the manner and procedure of their participation in the parliamentary elections and election of their representatives in the national parliament. Until present, they have participated in the preliminary parliamentary elections in 2011 and presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014 (Markovic 2011; Citizens Association MOST Final Report 2011; OSCE Final report 2014, Institute of Democracy Societas Civilis 2014). The inclusion of the Macedonian diaspora in the parliamentary elections led to many discussions and debates about the meaning and purpose of their electoral participation (Karakamisheva 2014).

1.1 Subject of research

The subject of research of this master’s thesis is composed of the analysis of the legal frame of the parliamentary elections conducted in the Macedonian diaspora, focusing on the rights of the voters (domicile and voters abroad). Macedonian citizen that reside abroad are enfranchised to vote on parliamentary and presidential elections in the Republic of Macedonia by implemented changes in the Electoral Code in 2008. I explain in details the introduced changes in the Electoral Code which determine the manner and procedure on implementing the elections in the diaspora as well as the other laws concerning this issue: Census Law (Official Gazette of Republic of Macedonia No.156/10), Law on Members of Parliament (Official Gazette of Republic of Macedonia No. 84/05), Law on Political Parties (Official Gazette of Republic of Macedonia No.23/13). The analysis will show whether the legal frame that enfranchise the diaspora is constructed according the Constitution of RM, the highest legal act that preserves and guarantees the basic political rights and freedoms of the Macedonian citizen.

1.2 Purpose of the research

The right to vote and to be elected is a privilege and duty for the citizen. Achieving and maintaining the universality, freedom and equality of the voting rights of its entire citizenry, is a tendency of democratic states and societies. These democratic principles should be implemented as a rule, not exception when the voting rights of the migrants/ expatriates, that reside out of the borders of the domicile country, comes to terms. The research made by IDEA offers a broad analysis of the voting abroad and how it is regulated in the world. The legal requirements for the voters abroad vary from one state to another, showing that this subpart of electoral policy is still a field for improvisation, and in some cases, manipulation with the voters/ votes.

The purpose of this research is to show that the legal frame of the voting abroad of Macedonian citizen that reside abroad do not share equal position with the domicile voters, by focusing on the five democratic principles: universal, equal, free, secret and direct suffrage. The parliamentary elections in 2011 were followed with recommendations by non- governmental institutions for necessity of revision and improvement of the Electoral Code of 2008. Many of the problematic issues until today are unrevised, as are the unequal voting power of the domicile and voters abroad and the unequal right of access to the polling station abroad produced by having only one way for voting abroad- in the DCR of RM.

The comparison of the experiences of Republic of Macedonia with the experiences of Croatia and Slovenia which allow voting of the diaspora will indicate the similarity of the problems in the electoral process with which these countries are facing (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2007). The case of Croatia is relevant for this research in terms of the efforts that Croatian legislators made in order to provide equal voting power of the voters abroad, principle that was interrupted in the first election cycles abroad. Slovenia offers to the voters abroad several means for voting (voting in person in DCR, postal voting, OMNIA) since the number of Slovenian DCR in the world is quite small, which contributes to providing equal access and possibility for every voter abroad to be able to vote.

1.3 Research questions and methods of research

From the determined subject of research and according to the specified purposes of the research I discern the following research questions:

- Does the legislation of Republic of Macedonia provide equality of voters abroad and domicile voters?
- How is the equality of the domicile voters and voters abroad provided in other ex-Yugoslavian republics that exercise voting abroad?

In order to answer the set research objectives, I apply the following methods of research:

Descriptive method describing the subject of research, supplemented by analysis of the relevant literature: primary and secondary sources by which I explain and set the theoretical framework of the master’s thesis.

Analysis of legal sources: laws and international legal acts: Constitution of Republic of Macedonia, Law on Amending the Electoral Code, Law on Political Parties, etc. which represent the legal framework regulating the electoral process.

A historical method will be applied in order to explain the evolution of the electoral right from its beginnings to the present.

A comparative analysis will show the similarities and differences of the electoral process in the diaspora of Republic of Macedonia and the neighbouring countries whose diaspora participates on the elections.

1.5 Structure of the master thesis

In the first introductory section I define and explain the basic concepts, social justification of the topic, subject, purposes and methods of research as well as the hypotheses drawn.

The following three chapters will contain key information and analysis on the subject of research, and through achieving the purposes of research will lead to establishing a concise conclusion.

In the second chapter, using a literature from relevant authors, I take into consideration the historical evolution of the electoral policy as well as the main actors who create it in Republic of Macedonia from its independency until present day, beginning from the Independence Referendum until the parliamentary elections in 2011 and 2014 when the Macedonian diaspora began to vote. The evolution of the electoral policy is an important part of this thesis because it presents the process of laying the foundations on a new democratic, sovereign and independent state which without properly built electoral system could not survive as such.

The third chapter is focused on the legal regulation of the elections; specifically it provides the legal framework which regulates them. Analysis of the formal legal acts (the Constitution of Republic of Macedonia, Electoral Code, Law on Amending the Electoral Code, Law on Members of Parliament, Law on Political Parties, Law on Citizenship, Law on Declaration of Domicile and Residence of Citizens) and of some international legal acts (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, European Convention on Human Rights, etc.).

The fourth chapter contains analysis of the voting of the Macedonian citizen abroad in order election of their representatives, based on the Constitutional rights and rights according to other laws in accordance with the five democratic principles of suffrage defined by the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters by the Venice Commission, and comparative analysis of experiences in voting abroad of Croatia and Slovenia.

The final fifth chapter is the conclusion of the overall analysis presented in this master’s thesis. The information obtained by using different methods of research and relevant literature and legal regulations are expected to answer the research question and to satisfy the purpose of the research.


The development of the election policy and all democratic processes of independent Macedonia cannot be precisely analysed if we do not look back at their beginnings.

Macedonia prepared the path towards creating its own independent state within the frames of SFRY as its federative unit. The destabilization of the social and economic condition of the Federation and its federative members in the 1980-ties led Socialistic Republic of Macedonia to find its way out in complete independence. The preparations for complete secession and independence of the Macedonian state were performed in the following sequence: firstly, Macedonia changed its political organization, established a Parliament (plural, with only one house, comprised of 120 representatives), and introduced the institutions President and Government. Then the Declaration on Sovereignty of the Socialistic Republic of Macedonia was adopted, in which Article 1 states "the sovereignty of Socialistic Republic of Macedonia is expressed in accordance with the constitutional provisions on independence and territorial integrity as well as the right of the Macedonian people to self-determination,…, and the right to secession" (Gaber 2002, 231). On the basis of the Declaration, the Macedonian Parliament announced the Referendum on Independence, held on the September 8, 1991.

2.1. Referendum on independence

On August 6, 1991 the Parliament of Republic of Macedonia passed the Decision on announcing a referendum which defined the referendum question, date of the referendum and the bodies responsible for implementation of the referendum, enabling the citizens to declare themselves if they are for or against the independence of Macedonia, (Official Gazette of Republic of Macedonia 37/91). The manner and procedure for realization of the referendum are regulated with the Law on Republic Referendum (Official Gazette of SRM No. 29/73), i.e. the Law on Amending the Law on the Republic Referendum (Official Gazette of RM 40/91).

Because the question of independence is extremely important for all citizens, this law regulates the voting in a very flexible manner in which: all citizens of RM vote at determined polling stations in RM;

- persons with disability, ill persons, retired persons, convicted persons, persons serving the military term, or at military exercise and students, because of the well-founded inability to vote at the determined polling stations, they shall vote in suitable facilities such as: military units, hospitals and health institutions, prisons, retirement homes, student homes or other places and in other manner (for example: voting via postal mail or in the diplomatic and consular representative offices of SFRJ) according to legally prescribed rules (Articles 13a, 13b, 13c, Article 7, Article 8 of the Law on Amending the Law on Republic Referendum)
- citizens of RM who because of well-founded reasons are not in the country and cannot exercise their right to vote are given a deadline of five days before it is held to vote on the Referendum (Article 20 of the Law on Amending the Law on Republic Referendum);
- the citizens of RM who are temporary working or residing abroad shall vote in the diplomatic and consular representative offices of Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia or in the polling stations in their last address in RM (Article 13 of the Law on Amending the Law on Republic Referendum).

The Macedonian diaspora exercised its right to vote for the first time at the Referendum on Independence of Republic of Macedonia from the then Socialistic Federative Republic of Yugoslavia held on the September 8, 1991 on the territory of Republic of Macedonia. According to Article 9 of the Law on Amending the Law on the Republic Referendum (Official Gazette of RM, number 40/91), right to vote have all citizens of Republic of Macedonia who at the moment of the referendum are temporary working or residing abroad.

The voting was held at the determined polling stations, i.e. the diplomatic and consular representative offices of SFRJ abroad. In states where the voting of foreign citizens on elections from their mother state was not allowed, such as: Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, the voters voted through written declarations sent to the Republic Commission for Implementation of Referendum.

The vote of the diaspora was important for the success of the referendum and the declaration of independence of RM. According to the results of the State Commission 58.126 citizens of Republic of Macedonia who were temporary working or residing abroad voted at the polling stations abroad, while 4.223 Macedonians who did not have Macedonian citizenship at the moment of voting delivered signatures of support for the referendum (State Election Commission of Republic of Macedonia 1991).

Total of 1.132.981citizens of RM voted at the Referendum or 75.74% of the total voting body, out of which 72.16% of the total voting body voted foр the independence of RM (ibid).

The successful result of the referendum for secession of Republic of Macedonia from SFRY was a big step for the Macedonian nation towards the final creation of independent, sovereign state after the centuries-long aspiration of the Macedonian people for independency.

2.2 Creating the election policy in independent Macedonia

Since the declaration of independence of Republic of Macedonia until today, the members of the Parliament of RM are elected on direct elections.

After the introduction of political pluralism in 1989, in 1990 the first multi-party parliamentary elections for electing 120 members of Parliament of SRM within SFRY took place in the then Socialist Republic of Macedonia. After them in the history of independent Macedonia there were seven more parliamentary elections (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2014), three of which were snap elections (2008, 2011 and 2014).

The election model from the time of forming of the Macedonian state until today remains the same in continuity. The election model of Republic of Macedonia was subjected to several changes, converting from majority through combined model up to purely proportional election model.

Until 1997 the election of members of the Parliament of RM was carried out according to the majority model, which is disputed today as a model according to which the diaspora votes for its representatives in the National Parliament of RM. The majority election model was used in the first two election cycles in independent RM. Because of the noted increase in newly formed parties, the following elections were conducted according to the combined model (majority – proportional), before finally the proportional model was implemented being used even today (Biljali 2011). In the short period of 23 years independency, Macedonia did not use just one election model, so there was no enough time and opportunities for weaknesses and qualities of these election models to be indicated.

Defining the election model and the method of appointment of mandates is of great significance for a democratic state. It is even more significant for a new state which strives toward democracy as Republic of Macedonia does. The election model may provide answers to the following challenges:

- First it can be included in the political system and can relate to it and its function. Every election model does not fit every society and it is hard to compare experiences of other states with completely different constitution in order to select the right election model.
- Second it should allow the expression of will of the citizens through passing their legitimacy on their parliamentary representatives.
- Third to encourage competition between the parties and, to a certain extent, to enable equal opportunities for victory to different political parties and independent candidates in the election campaign (Reynolds et al. 1997, 1-9).

2.2.1 Actors in creating and implementing the election policy

The main actors who create the election policy in Republic of Macedonia are: the Ministry of Justice of RM and the Parliament of RM. The State Election Commission of RM is important for implementation of the election processes and bearer of many responsibilities.

The Ministry of Justice of RM is a state administration authority with the following competencies:

- A role in the development of state policies;
- Preparation and proposal of laws and other legal regulations and control over their implementation.
- Providing legal security and legal protection of the rights and freedoms of the citizens of RM.

In the category obligations and tasks of the Ministry of Justice, among others, is the obligation of building and conducting effective and modern election system in the frames of legal society in which the citizens of RM can realize their rights and freedoms (Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Justice 2008 - 2010).

The Parliament of RM is the bearer of the legislative power in Republic of Macedonia. It is also a representative body comprised of 120 – 140 representatives elected by the citizens of Republic of Macedonia through direct, general and free elections. The Parliament as a legislative house brings, i.e. adopts draft laws and it is responsible for their authentic interpretation. It has the potential to influence the election policy and actively act in the consideration of the election policy instruments as well as the defining of the budget needed for its implementation. In view of the elections, the act of announcing elections which defines the terms and course of the electing activities is brought by the President of the Parliament (Daskalovski and Risteska 2009; Electoral Code; Constitution of RM; Parliament of RM).

Among other competencies defined in Article 68 of the Constitution of RM, the Parliament of RM also adopts and amends the Constitution of RM and announces referendum.

The State Election Commission of RM takes care of the legitimacy of the elections and their implementation (Article 31, paragraph 1 of the Electoral Code 2011) The members of the SEC are elected by the Parliament of RM (Article 26, paragraph 5 of Electoral Code 2011).

According to the Electoral Code (Official Gazette of RM No. 51/2011), SEC of RM has a long list of competencies during the election process, foremost it is competent for providing and control over the legitimacy of the elections and the organization and control of the work of the election authorities in accordance with the Electoral Code, as well as all detailed activities related with the voting lists, registration of voters abroad, appointing electoral boards etc.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RM has important role in terms of implementation of the elections in the diaspora that, through the diplomatic missions abroad, contacts with Macedonian migrants with regard to provide information about the elections, manner of registration and voting etc.

2.3 Macedonian diaspora

The concept and term “diaspora” is defined in the following way by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RM: diaspora is a term which encompasses the Macedonian national minority (MNM) and migrants (persons with former Macedonian citizenship), as well as all citizens of the Republic of Macedonia residing or working abroad irrespective of the length and category of ethnic Macedonians who never had Macedonian citizenship (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of RM).

The Macedonian diaspora is comprised of migrants who left their homeland due to economic, political or various other reasons. The emigration happened in several major waves, which are actually continuous and have not finished even today. The first major waves of emigration happened within the ethnic frames of Macedonia beginning at the end of the XIX and the beginning of the XX century (during the Balkan Wars), then in the period of the two world wars. At the time of Ottoman rule at the Balkans, ethnicity was an unfamiliar concept, so the term Macedonia, i.e. Macedonians refers to a geographical term (Kostov 2010). Macedonia in that period is a geographic region, comprised of Vardar, Aegean and Pirin Macedonia. There are files in the USA about the wave of Macedonian migrants where they declare as Macedonians, listing Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey as their country of origin (Makedonska Nacija 2009).

The second phase of emigrating waves started in 1945 and continues even today, among which the biggest are in the period of 1960s and 1970s as well as 1990s immediately after RM seceded from SFRY in the period of transition (Migracionen profil na RM 2008).

The data on the number and structure of Macedonian migrants are not precise and concrete. The scarcity of data about the emigration of Macedonian citizens is due to the length of the process of emigration of Macedonian citizens. Namely, the emigration lasts for more than a century.

Republic of Macedonia, even within the frames of SFRY and today, maintains an active contact with its migrants. Usually the link between the migrants and their homeland is carried out through the establishment and registration of Macedonian Migrant Associations, which participate in preserving Macedonian tradition, language and culture among the migrants in the accepting states.

With respect to the political activity of the Macedonian diaspora, the enthusiasm for voting at the referendum of independence of RM is obvious.

Even within the frames of SFRY, RM enabled its citizens who reside abroad to practice their right to vote according to the contemporary legal regulations. When we speak about the right to vote, we must separate the category of “ethnic Macedonians who do not have and/or never had Macedonian citizenship” from the voting body, because regardless the ethnic origin the right to vote is granted by having Macedonian citizenship.


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Voting of the Macedonian Diaspora in the Parliamentary Elections in Republic of Macedonia
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voting abroad, external voting, diaspora, Republic of Macedonia, voting rights, enfranchisement.
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Ana Mijovska (Author), 2014, Voting of the Macedonian Diaspora in the Parliamentary Elections in Republic of Macedonia, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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