SCOOP in April this year published and mapped title deeds of all four main political parties in Macedonia. That article with supporting documents can be found here.
VMRO-DPMNE is a leader in Europe according to the square meters it possesses as a political party. It has 93 title deeds for party seats around the country with 33,238 square meters in buildings, agricultural land and pastures. According to the market value, total assets are estimated at about 60 million Euros, and only the new headquarters of the party in the center of Skopje is worth around 40 million Euros.
VMRO-DPMNE, with the largest property in Europe, is followed by the Centre Party of Sweden, whose property is valued at around 53 million Euros.
Angela Merkel’s CDU in Germany owns a property worth 50 million Euros, the Labor Party in the UK has real estate worth 9 million pounds, while the Conservative 11 million.
The steep increase of the VMRO-DPMNE property began in 2006, when it won the elections with Nikola Gruevski.
“The former League of Communists of Macedonia, as the only party, to sum up everything, the system was one-party, it was a party state, there were 168,000 members of the League of Communists of Macedonia, membership was withheld from the salary, specified by regulation, and probably it was not 60 million, premises and property”, Petar Goshev, former leader of the LDP.
In the Agency for Real Estate Cadastre SDSM occurs 14 times, and possesses properties with a total area of 4,120 square meters. Of this area a half is for the party’s headquarters, a former state building swapped in 1993. The party has another bigger property in Bitola.
Unlike them DUI has 4 title deeds of which 3 in Skopje. Most valuable of these properties is the building of the party headquarters with a total area of 1,533 square meters in Cair.
The origin of the money for the purchase of this property is arguable to the speakers who SCOOP Macedonia consulted.
“How was it created, which resources was that property of the party created with? And we know today by title deeds, we know by their material and financial situation that parties are richest institutions in the country”, Academic Abdulmenaf Bedzeti, former leader of the PDP
Judging by the reports, the bank account of the largest ruling party has constantly been increasing for the last three years. They cannot complain even about DUI and DPA because every year the amount of money on their account is greater, which is not the case with SDSM.
Where does party money come from and how is it spent? How realistic are the figures in reports? And why do parties hide financial statements that cannot be seen on their websites?
“If you look at the political parties and only calculate how much they give for a campaign, it is an easily calculable dimension, you will see they go to the elections with a few million Euros in the elections. Now the question is where that funding from? Even more interesting is that, let some money come into the account, but 2/3 of the money does not come to the account and is possibly paid in cash in televisions or through indirect services, and again we come to massive corruption” says Ljubco Gjorgjievski, leader of the VMRO-People’s Party.
TURNOVER IN MILLIONS WITH TWO EMPLOYEES
Luxury cars, apartments, houses, 170,000 members, and only two employees in the party’s list of the largest ruling party with a salary of about 1,500 Euros. Three years ago there was not a single employee in the party, which is odd considering the legislation requiring at least the President of non-profit organizations to be employed. For this topic Peter Vanhoutte, former EU mediator for the crisis showed concern, and expressed doubt about the origin of the money to the party shortly before being declared unwelcome in the country by Gruevski’s party.
“We all know that it is, how to say, a theater about the whole thing and of course, the answer is that it is impossible such major political parties to work with one employee”, says Sasho Ordanoski, fighter against corruption.
“VMRO has developed a scheme of party operations to be carried out by people they have employed in government service. They run the party work more than the civil service”, says Stojan Andov, founder and former leader of the LP
Although in opposition, SDSM with a total of 29 employees on its back, seems to be in power. Their salaries are much lower than their political opponents, but not like those in the camp of the Albanian parties, DUI and DPA, having 4 or 1 employee in the party.
“If you have some people who constantly work there, and have neither formally legal based employment, nor are elsewhere employed, that means they take money in hand. So the indicator itself shows that something is wrong. The former League of Communists of Macedonia, as the only party, to sum up everything, the system was one-party, it was a party state, there were 168,000 members of the League of Communists of Macedonia, membership was withheld from the salary, specified by regulation, and probably it was not 60 million, premises and property, says Petar Goshev, former leader of the LDP.
For connoisseurs of political circumstances, Macedonian political parties are the basis for corruption.
“Corruption somehow springs from here, if springs from political parties that are a platform where staffing decisions are delegated across institutions, you can imagine how that corruption penetrates and multiplies on all grounds in the institutions”, says Abdulmenaf Bedzeti, academic, former leader of the PDP.
“If corruption starts to come from above, usually the beginning is generated from above, then every day it goes deeper and deeper and ends somewhere in the doorman or the ordinary worker performing the simplest job in an institution. Corruption is like cancer. Corruption is like cancer in a body. If it occurs and is not cut early, it spreads every day, metastasizes and eventually eats the body, or the organ it occurred in”, Imer Selmani, former leader of the NDP.
“It is a big corruption scheme, we pretend to be crazy and it has been working for 25 years and is likely to continue”, says Ljubco Georgievski.
SPENDING MORE MONEY THAN INCOME
The great discrepancy between income and expenditure of political parties can be seen in the money spent on the last parliamentary elections in 2014.
The ruling VMRO-DPMNE and DUI spent much more money in comparison with SDSM or DPA. But overall it can be concluded that these parties spent more than they received. And they ended the elections in minus.
The way parties are advertised in the media is symptomatic. State Audit Office has found violations of the electoral law for political advertising in the media.
The cost of service stated in the invoice for political advertising submitted by 1 broadcaster is 50% lower than the price fixed in the price list for political advertising.
“There are elements, quite of corruption, or the media to corrupt politicians, that is political parties or politicians to corrupt the media. Therefore here you have the organs of the state, Special Public Prosecutor is now fashionable, but the Special Public Prosecutor has been established only for one topic of matter, then we have a bunch of state institutions that have to deal with this phenomenon, beginning with the audit reports and it can end very far”, says Imer Selmani.
Even worse is the ratio between the majority in power and opposition in the Albanian block.
For the 2014 election DUI spent about 570,000 Euros which is almost 4 times more than the SDSM and 70 times more than the DPA.
“If all the media are inclined to one side, that option and political party wins when it wants and how it wants. As even the best idea and the best program, if not available through the media to the people, citizens will simply not know about that offer and will not know what it is, today anyone can be demonized with half-truths or no truths and it is to the detriment of democracy, to the detriment of the country’s future, to the detriment of the present citizens of the Republic of Macedonia”, says Selmani.
Elections, although not started yet, have forced the parties to largely spend for campaign activities and Transparency International – Macedonia and the Center for Economic Analysis have alarmed about the origin of the money. Their message is the same as that of the experts – unless competent institutions engage to track down where the funds come from, there will be doubt that it is black money.
(The story has been supported by the National Endowment for democracy project “Raising Awareness About Corruption through Investigative Reporting”)