Democracy and rights
Northern Macedonia is struggling with great
internal contradictions, which has contributed to
undemocratic tendencies. Politics is characterized by
fierce rhetoric, boycotts and pure violence. The
administration is politicized, corruption is widespread
and the media has been heavily crowded by state power.
However, the situation has brightened recently, even
though polarization remains.
The two dominant parties leading the government have
tended to equate their party with the state, as during
the communist era. Important items have gone almost
exclusively to party members. Instead, the party that is
in opposition has often boycotted the work of
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Macedonia, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Elections are held regularly, but they are often
characterized by threats, violence, voting and other
cheating. Leading representatives of political parties
have also been engaged in fierce campaigns against
opponents, which have sometimes become tangible. The
most serious case occurred in April 2017, when members
of the nationalist party VMRO-DPMNE stormed Parliament
and seriously injured several people (see further below
and Current policy).
In political and civil rights rankings, Northern
Macedonia falls in the lower tier of Balkan countries.
The valuation was exacerbated by the eavesdropping
scandal that was revealed in 2015 and was considered to
show how the then nationalist government devoted itself
to advanced electoral fraud, corruption, governance of
the judiciary and surveillance of citizens. In the long
run, this led to new elections and eventually a change
of government (see Current policy). Development has
since improved and the new government is praised for,
among other things, the willingness to compromise.
However, the Economist Intelligence Unit still
classifies Northern Macedonia as a "hybrid regime", the
third of four categories where the fourth is
Corruption is widespread and impunity is widespread
among those in power, both in politics and the economy.
In Transparency International's ranking of 180 countries
based on levels of corruption, Northern Macedonia is in
the 106th place. Together with Albania, Northern
Macedonia thus has a bottom position in the region,
slightly worse than Bosnia and Kosovo (for the full list
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution guarantees freedom of expression and
free access to information, but in fact independent
media have a difficult time operating freely.
Journalists and activists are subject to political
pressure and harassment. Physical accumulation also
occurs, although it has declined in 2018 compared to
previous years. The situation regarding freedom of the
press deteriorated for a number of years, but the trend
has now broken.
In Reporters Without Borders index of freedom of the
press in the countries of the world, Northern Macedonia
fell over a ten-year period, from the "top listing" 34
to 109 (out of 180 countries). The reasons were, for
example, legal harassment, often with bad legislation as
a basis, as well as physical and psychological violence
against journalists. But in 2019 the rating improved
significantly. Northern Macedonia climbed a full 14
steps, passing Montenegro and leaving the bottom rank
among the former Yugoslav republics. In 2020, Northern
Macedonia climbed another three steps, to place 92 (for
the full list see here).
The polarization in politics is largely reflected in
the media. The Macedonian nationalist government of
2006-2007 was strongly supported by several evening
newspapers, of which a few, however, went bankrupt.
Public service was also heavily governed by the national
government, and that bias continued to begin with after
the May 2017 power shift, pending new legislation.
Already in 2011, the journalist union and the OSCE
warned that media freedom in the country was seriously
threatened, after three government-critical newspapers
were forced to close because of alleged tax debts. The
following year, the government introduced new rules
where journalists charged with slander were forced to
apologize or risk very high fines. In 2013, a journalist
was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for
revealing the identity of a witness in a murder trial.
According to critics, the verdict was a revenge for the
reporter revealing police and legal abuse.
At the end of 2013, after an intense debate,
Parliament passed a law on stronger regulation of the
media. This happened despite strong protests from
journalists and an invitation from the OSCE to choose
self-regulation for the press instead.
Ownership concentration is high in the media sector
and self-censorship is widespread. Corrupt links between
authorities and media owners are a problem. In addition,
financial difficulties have also affected press and
etheric media in the form of declining editions, falling
revenues from license fees and bankruptcies.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the Constitution, the courts must be
independent of the political authorities, but this is
not always the case. Although improvements have been
made as Northern Macedonia gradually adjusts its legal
system to EU requirements, much remains to be done.
Among other things, conditions for inmates at various
institutions, including psychiatric care, have been
criticized by the UN.
Nor is there any equality before the law. A voluntary
organization to take advantage of the rights of the
inmates claims that while arrested, high-ranking people
do not have to wait very long to be tried, "ordinary
people" may be imprisoned for up to a year pending
trial, though often is just about petty crime. The
deficiencies in legal security can be partly attributed
to such things as unclear laws, lack of competence and
resources. Low wages in the judiciary also contribute to
In the fall of 2015, a special court, SJO - led by
three women, was established with the task of
investigating crimes among the power holders following
the interception scandal.
The storming of Parliament in 2017 has resulted in 16
people being sentenced to prison for up to 18 years (see
Calendar). Among several high-ranking leaders who are
still under investigation for planning the attack are
Nikola Gruevski, who was Prime Minister from 2006 to
2006. Gruevski has also been sentenced to two years in
prison for corruption, but is in Hungary where he has
moved under spectacular forms and subsequently has been
granted asylum (see Calendar).