Gruevski: Electoral register can be revised in days

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski. Image: Screenshot

 

Late in the night and shortly before dawn on December 16, after 12 hours of negotiation over the date of the elections, in his statement from the residence of the European Union in Skopje the resigning Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said:

[Zoran Zaev] knows that the methodology for and the revision of the electoral registry can be done in a matter of days.
[Source: Telma TV, 02:38-02:48 min., Date: 16.01.2016]

 

ARGUMENT

This claim was rendered highly questionable by the President of the State Election Commission (SEC), Aleksandar Chichakovski. Pressed for a statement in the Parliamentary Club, where party work groups continued their attempts to settle differences regarding the electoral registry and media reform the day after the meeting of the four party leaders with Johannes Hahn, Chichakovski said:

If the question is whether elections can be held on April 24, my answer is that, technically, the elections can take place, but we cannot review and revise the electoral registry by then, meaning we cannot provide a registry credible to all parties. The revision of the electoral registry in such a short period of time will be improvised and will not result in a credible registry and credible elections. [Source: Telma TV, Date: 17.01.2016]

Chichakovski added that he informed the party representatives in the negotiations of his position:

I have informed the political party representatives regarding SEC positions. We are proactive, we want to speed the process along as quickly as possible. I will hand out to you my statement and my positions, which I presented during the meetings. [Source: Telma TV, Date: 17.01.2016]

The media concluded than no party negotiation team commented on Chichakovski’s statements. Mediator van Haute confirmed the stance was identical to that presented to Commissioner Hahn.

Van Haute elaborated on his statement for the journalists:

Technically, elections can be organised at any time, this is Commissioner Hahn’s position. What the Assembly must take into consideration is the credibility of the elections. In order to have truly credible elections – not simply elections for elections’ sake –  a revised electoral registry is a must. This is a fundamental issue. Let’s first revise the electoral registry and then hold elections. [Source: Telma TV, Date: 17.01.2016]

Later that day (January 17), certain media provided additional information on the arguments of the SEC president as to why the election registry cannot be revised so as to provide credible elections on April 24:

The SEC [note: including the new members] was formed 20 days after the deadline, while the two methodologies for checking and purging the electoral registry that it submitted still await the approval of the political parties.  The deadline for the adoption of the two methodologies was December 10, 2015.

The SEC cannot estimate the period required to revise the electoral registry as it does not have sufficient information from the various institutions regarding the structure and the state of the databases.

If the elections are scheduled for April 24, 2016, then the dissolution of the Assembly may take place on February 24 and the SEC must make the registry available for public scrutiny by March 5, 2016, ten days after the elections are formally announced. This means the field and operational revision of the register should have happened between December 10, 2015 and March 5, 2016.

The law provides an 85 day period for this operation, nearly three months. This means that as of today, we are 37 days behind schedule. Cross-referencing alone, according to SEC estimates, would take 5 to 7 weeks,” said Chichakovski in a statement for the NovaTV portal. [Source: NovaTV, Date: 17.01.2016]

 

Once the statements and the facts are thus cross-examined, the claim made by the resigning prime minister is revealed to be false.

 

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