“Balkan Barometer 2016”, very serious and big regional research, shows non-confidence and pessimism regarding the functional division of the government, rule of law and dissatisfaction about the way things are developing in the country. However, unlike the other Balkan peoples, one third of the Macedonian respondents still have faith in the institutions and support them, which is the highest result in the Western Balkans
Author: Teofil Blazhevski
The citizens of the Republic of Macedonia have a poor opinion about the institutions, although the opinion itself is neither as bad nor as good as the politicians from the ruling and opposition parties claim. This is presented in the results from the serious regional research, which was presented this week, conducted by the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), intergovernmental body of the member states of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) based in Sarajevo.
The research named “Balkan Barometer”, is being conducted second year in a row and it covers the countries from ex-Yugoslavia, minus Slovenia, plus Albania, although this year’s research includes a special section in the publication dedicated to Moldavia. The seriousness of this research is confirmed by the number of respondents in the poll – 7000 citizens, or 1000 from each country, plus 1400 company representatives, or 200 from each country (these numbers refer to the Western Balkans).
In the section Perceptions on Public Institutions and Services there are questions determining the overall impression, and these four questions are included among others:
- Do you agree that the administrative procedures in public institutions are efficient?;
- Do you agree that the law is applied and enforced effectively?;
- Do you agree that that judicial system is independent from political influence?;
- Do you agree that the law is applied to everyone equally?;
The numbers from the Western Balkans are the following – 56% of the citizens are not satisfied with the administration efficiency, 75% of the citizens believe that the laws are not applied equally and completely, meaning there is no rule of law, 78% believe that the judiciary is dependent on politics, and even 83% of the citizens believe that the laws are not applied equally for everyone, i.e. there are “equal” and a bit “more equal” than others, as George Orwell would say.
THE CITIZENS OF MACEDONIA HAVE BIGGER CONFIDENCE THAN OTHER PEOPLES FROM THE BALKANS
This poll thoroughly represents 2 questions of the aforementioned 4, which are crucially important about the confidence in the institutions and the legal state.
The question “Do you agree that the law is applied to everyone equally?” was answered negatively by 64% of the respondents. More precisely, 34% completely disagree with this statement, whereas 30% lean towards disagreeing, i.e. belong to the category of people who believe that the laws are not applied equally to everyone. However, 27% of the respondents believe that the laws are applied to everyone equally, whereas 7% are completely convinced that the laws are applied to everyone equally, and that is 34% in total, or a bit more than one third. Only 2% from the respondents don’t know or refused to provide an answer.
Having in mind the numbers from the other countries, it turns out that the citizens of Macedonia have the best perception out of all bad perceptions for equal application of laws, compared to the Balkan countries. The citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina have the worst perception, even 87% disagree with the statement that the laws are applied to everyone equally.
The questions “Do you have confidence in courts and the judiciary?”, i.e. that it is independent from political influence, 62% of the citizens disagree, i.e. believe that the judiciary is dependent on political influence. More specifically, 29% are completely convinced, and 33% would agree that the judiciary is dependent on political influence. But, same as in the case with the previous question regarding the laws, 28% of the respondents tend to believe that the situation is not like this, whereas 7% are completely assured that the judiciary is independent, making 35% of the respondents who have confidence in the judiciary’s independence. Same as previously, 2% of the respondents either do not know or refused to provide an answer.
Compared to the average numbers from the Western Balkans, we see that this country’s citizens are less skeptical, because even 78% of the other Balkan peoples believe in the dependence of the judiciary unlike 62% of the respondents in Macedonia.
At first glance, this shows the great division and polarization in this country on party grounds and also the stiffness of the party identification with the country, but of course, we should hear from public opinion experts about this issue, who would explain these findings in the most appropriate manner.
THE LANGUOROUSNESS AND THE PESSIMISM ARE HUGE
The “Balkan Barometer 2016” showcased one more characteristic of Macedonia, which in this case differs a little bit from the other Balkan countries covered by this research.
Almost 80% of the citizens of Macedonia are either dissatisfied or neutral regarding the development of the situations in our society!
On the question about the level of satisfaction regarding the situations in Macedonia, 20% responded that they are completely dissatisfied, 25% generally dissatisfied, 33% neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, whereas 23% are satisfied or very satisfied. On Western Balkans’ level the situation is also bad. More than 60% are pessimists regarding the situations in their countries, 23% are neutral, whereas only 9% are satisfied.
The hopelessness does not lack either. Even 75% of the citizens of Macedonia think that the situation will worsen or will remain the same in the next 12 months, whereas 23% of the citizens have positive expectations.
This research also showcased that the unemployment, the economic situation and corruption are the major problems in Macedonia, and the other countries from the Western Balkans share the same situation.