North Macedonia is a parliamentary republic. The most recent parliamentary elections took place in 2020 during the global pandemic. This culturally diverse country has a population of around 2 million people. North Macedonia has been an EU candidate since 2005 and became the newest member of NATO in 2019. One of the most recent international milestones was the signing of the Prespa Agreement in 2019 between North Macedonia and Greece, settling a decades long dispute between the two countries. The most recent EU country report on North Macedonia published in 2020 notes the judicial system, fight against corruption and protection of fundamental rights as some of the key political areas where progress is achieved or necessary.
The WFD office in North Macedonia is implementing the Western Balkans Democracy Initiative (WBDI), which works with eight parliaments, public institutions, political parties and civil society organizations across six countries. WBDI in North Macedonia is working to improve representation of youth, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups in political processes and supports democratization of the political parties and improvement of democratic policies and practices.
Effective and efficient spending of public funds is a key focus for WFD in North Macedonia. In 2019 WFD and the Assembly of North Macedonia established the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), as a special organizational unit within the staff service of the Assembly. The need for establishing the office originates from a 2018 a conference in Wilton Park, where MPs from all political parties agreed that it will be beneficial for their work. Today, PBO produces regular financial and economic analyses and its products are used by MPs and Committees in parliamentary proceedings and in public discussions.
WFD also supports the State Audit Office in the country in increasing the visibility and impact of its reports and advancing their communications with the public. In 2021 the SAO, the British Embassy in Skopje and WFD signed a memorandum of understanding to continue the support in the implementation of the SAO communication strategy.
Equal participation in political processes is necessary for a democratic society. WFD in North Macedonia works on empowering marginalized groups and advancing the inclusion of women, persons with disabilities and youth in political processes. Since 2019 the office has worked on support of the political participation of persons with disabilities, by producing research, working with political parties and empowering activists. In 2020 WFD supported the monitoring of parliamentary elections in 2020 by persons with disabilities. The programme led to unanimous adoption of the Declaration for Active Political Participation of Persons with Disabilities by Parliament in 2019.
Looking into the position of youth, WFD began producing an annual study on the socio-political participation of young people and analysed the position of youth in elections. A key partner is this cause the Parliamentary MP Club for Youth Affairs and Policies, which has been supported by WFD in two parliamentary compositions. WFD also works with young people, high-school students and political party youth wings supporting participation and culture of dialogue. Students from across the country created dozens of initiatives, convincing local institutions to make changes improving their lives.
Civil society and media are important partners in working towards open, accountable and inclusive democracies. WFD includes and supports local civil society organisations and journalists in its work towards these goals. Between 2016 and 2018 a dozen organizations were supported in advocacy initiatives to Parliament. Civil society partners are essential in the implementation of the Western Balkans Democracy Initiative. In the last several years, WFD supported investigative journalists, though five different cycles, in looking into and placing public funds and policies in the focus, and several of these stories awards recognizing their significance for the investigative reporting and public interest.
General country data
Population: 2 million (2002 census data)
GDP: $12.13 Billion (USD)
GDI per capita: $5,842 (USD)
Media freedom: 90 place / 180 countries
Democracy index: 66/100 (partly free)
Naum Naumovski – Borce