15 September 2002
I was seconded by the U.S. Department of State to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as an election observer for the 2002 Macedonian parliamentary elections. I was deployed to the area of Ohrid in the south. I monitored elections in the city of Ohrid and particularly two polling stations that had been subject to electoral fraud and violence in the 2000 municipal elections.
These were the first elections following the intense ethnic conflict of 2001 and were extremely important not only for Macedonia but also for the stability of the region as a whole. During the 2000 municipal elections, there were numerous violations of the electoral law, violence and unfortunately even deaths. Therefore, the 2002 parliamentary elections were a test for all the Macedonian ethnic groups as well as political parties. The election law that was passed in July 2002 attempted to rectify some of the problems of previous election laws as well as institute a new electoral system. For the 2002 parliamentary elections, Macedonia adopted a system of proportional representation for election to the 120-member parliament. The country was divided into six electoral districts, each with twenty members using a d'Hondt electoral formula.
While there were incidents of intimidation
and some reported violence, the OSCE concluded that these elections "were
conducted largely in accordance with OSCE commitments and international
standards for democratic elections." This bodes very well for the future
because in 2003, Macedonia will be having presidential elections. This
page provides some of the key documents created by the OSCE as well as
the Macedonian State Electoral Commission. The OSCE has numerous information
on this and previous elections.
Here are some photos that I took of Macedonia. As you will see, the country is truly beautiful, and the Macedonian people are extremely friendly and hospitable.
Here are a couple of photos that I took outside of one of the polling stations and a final photo taken the day after the election with my interpreter and driver, Milana and Alexsandar, as we toasted a successful day of election observation.