Macedonia - Government
The Republic of Macedonia is a parliamentary democracy. A popularly elected president is head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. A unicameral parliament exercises legislative authority.
The unicameral assembly (Sobranie) consists of 120 seats. Members are elected by popular vote from party lists, based on the percentage parties gain of the overall vote in each of six election districts of 20 seats each. Members of parliament have a 4-year mandate. No legal threshold is required for a party to enter the parliament. Votes are tabulated using the D'Hondt formula. At least 30 percent of the candidates on each party list must be of different gender. And 3 seats are reserved for the Macedonian diaspora.
The Prime Minister is the head of government and is selected by the party or coalition that gains a majority of seats in parliament. The Prime Minister and other ministers must not be members of parliament.
The President represents Macedonia at home and abroad. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces of Macedonia and heads its Security Council. He also appoints the Chief of the Defense Staff (CHOD), and the head of the Intelligence Agency. The President is elected by general, direct ballot and has a term of 5 years, with the right to one re-election.
Macedonia maintains a parliamentary political system in which the prime minister, as head of government, effectively has more power than the president, as head of state. In the first years of independence, however, the president loomed large as a political force due to the role the office plays regarding national security, as well as high regard in Kiro Gligorov, the first President, was held. The presidential office continued to be valued as a genuine representation of the Macedonian state, bridging all nationalities.
The parliament in December 2005 passed a package of 11 constitutional amendments strengthening the independence and efficiency of the judiciary, which was one of the least-trusted of all Macedonian government institutions. The amendments curtail the role of parliament in selecting judges, who will now be selected and dismissed by an independent State Judicial Council.
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice, although the court system at times was inefficient and subject to political manipulation. The court system consists of a Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and local and appeals courts. The Chief Public Prosecutor and other elements of the judiciary sometimes acted to ensure the impunity of state agents who committed human rights abuses. The court system was three-tiered and was composed of municipal courts, district courts, and a Supreme Court. A Constitutional Court deals with matters of constitutional interpretation. The judiciary was generally weak and was influenced by political pressure and corruption, in part due to low salaries; however, there were no reports of widespread abuse or systemic corruption.
Trials are presided over by judges appointed by the Republican Judicial Council (an independent agency) and confirmed by Parliament. Two community-member consulting jurors assist each judge, although the judge makes the final decision. The Constitution provides for a public attorney to protect the constitutional and legal rights of citizens when violated by bodies of state administration and other agencies with public mandates: the Office of the People's Ombudsman was created and became functional in 1997.
The Framework Agreement states that the judiciary should better reflect the ethnic composition of the population and states that one-third of the judges on the Constitutional Court, the Ombudsman, and three members of the Judicial Council will be chosen by the Parliament, including by a majority of the ethnic minority Members of Parliament to ensure minority representation.
The State Judicial Council monitors the ethical conduct of judges and recommends to parliament the election of judges. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and is responsible for the equal administration of laws by all courts. Its judges are appointed by parliament without time limit. The Constitutional Court is responsible for the protection of constitutional and legal rights and for resolving conflicts of power between the three branches of government. Its 9 judges are appointed by parliament with a mandate of 9 years, without the possibility of re-election. An independent Public Prosecutor is appointed by parliament with a 6-year mandate. Continuation of the reforms in the judiciary system with upgrade of the existing legislation and development of a new legislation in compliance with the European and international standards and norms is the main objective of the reforms in the judiciary system.
The main objectives of the reform of the local self-government system are to build a local self government based on the principles of democracy and decentralization, having the right and capacity to regulate and manage local public services accountably and in the interest of the local population. In other words, to develop an environment in which local authorities, through the democratically elected bodies and the efficient and accountable administration, will bring the local self-government closer to the citizens and supported by their funds will autonomously and efficiently resolve every-day problems of the local self-government.
The main objective of the improvement of the electoral process in Republic of Macedonia is the establishment of a functional electoral process compatible with the set international standards in function of permanent conduct of fair, free and democratic elections. Understanding the reform of the election system as a process which is continuous one, the activities of the responsible institutions in Republic of Macedonia in 2009-2010 were directed mainly to analyzing and finalizing the activities related to: the held local and presidential elections (post electoral activities), improvement of the electoral legislative, reinforcement of the capacities of the State Electoral Committee and other bodies established by the law and implementation of the obligations determined with the last amendments to the Law on elections, in terms of transferring the Electoral list under the authority of the State Electoral Committee and establishing procedures for Diaspora voting.
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