The relatively well-functioning social protection network that existed during the Yugoslavian era has been eroded due to economic problems and is today completely inadequate.
As long as the former Macedonia was part of the former Yugoslavia, all Macedonians with employment and their families were covered by a relatively well-developed social protection network, including old-age pension, sickness and unemployment insurance, parental benefit and child care. It was partly funded by the wealthier sub-republics. At independence in 1991, the Republic had to take full responsibility for its social security system. This has since been eroded due to financial problems and is now very flawed. Among other things, the high unemployment rate has made it difficult for the state to pay unemployment benefits.
- Countryaah Official Site: Official statistics for population in Macedonia, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
More than a fifth of the population is considered poor, but poverty is unevenly distributed. The hardest hit is the population of some parts of the countryside. The worst is the situation for the Romans but also for many Albanians. Poverty itself has given rise to poor health in many. In 2014, the government introduced tax relief and debt write-offs for the poorest.
The state-funded health care has received less and less resources, which has led to the doctors’ strike in protest against low wages and tougher working conditions. It is common to pay the doctor a little extra (which not everyone can do) to get better and faster care. Nevertheless, there have been some successes in, among other things, child health care with, for example, extensive vaccination programs. Northern Macedonia also has the lowest number of HIV infected in the region. Parts of the healthcare system have been privatized with good care for anyone who can afford to pay.
The retirement age has been gradually increased during the 2000s to 64 years for men and 62 years for women.
Despite the adoption of an Equal Opportunities Act in 2006, few women are in a leading position, even though policy has introduced quota provisions. A restrictive abortion law means that many women are forced into unsafe illegal abortions. Violence against women in the home is relatively common. Trafficking in women occurs, both within, out of and to Northern Macedonia.
The views of LGBTQ people are often prejudiced and those who work for their rights are at risk of violence and harassment, both from the public, politicians and journalists. Through the country, the so-called Balkan route for smuggling drugs from Asia goes to other countries in Europe. Organized crime is extensive and there are many weapons in circulation.
FACTS – SOCIAL CONDITIONS
Proportion of population with access to clean water: 96.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP: 6.1 percent (2015)
After two months of protests, more than 12,000 students embark on a major demonstration against the government’s planned new reform of higher education. According to this, in order to obtain their degree, all students must pass special examinations organized by the state. The government believes that it would increase the quality of education, but the students believe that the reform is contrary to the constitution and threatens the independence of the universities. The government nevertheless adopts the law and the students promise new protests.
New outbreaks of violence
In the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in many years, several thousands of ethnic Albanians clash with police in Skopje in connection with a meeting held in protest of six Albanians, allegedly “extreme Muslims”, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of five Macedonians (see May 2012). The protesters march towards the court and the riot police respond with tear gas and water cannons. Twenty police officers and many protesters are injured; about ten are arrested.
Claws with ethnic signs
In Gjorce Petrov, a suburb of Skopje, two days of ethnic riots erupt after the murder of a young Macedonian man for whom an ethnic Alban is accused. Dozens of people are arrested, several police officers injured, cars and shops set on fire in riots targeting ethnic Albanians. According to human rights groups, the police use force to restore peace and order in the suburb.
The opposition boycott parliament
When the newly elected parliament is assembled, only 88 of the 123 members are present. The opposition parties, with the Social Democratic SDSM at the forefront, boycott the meeting. They believe that the elections in April have not gone right and require a transitional government pending re-election. The OSCE, which monitored the elections, says that even if the elections themselves were conducted without major flaws, the election campaign could be criticized. Among other things, the media were not impartial and the ruling VMRO-DPMNE mixed the activities of the state and the party.
Election victory for incumbent president and government
The incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov wins in the second round with 55 percent of the vote, over Social Democrat Stevo Pendarovski. Ivanov won big already in the first round two weeks earlier, but the turnout was then too low for the result to count. In today’s recent parliamentary elections, a coalition of parties under VMRO-DPMNE gets 61 out of the 123 seats in parliament, while the Social Democrats, SDSM, receive 34 seats. BDI and PDSH receive 19 and 7 seats respectively. The government parties VMRO-DPMNE and BDI are thus strengthened from the election.
New elections are announced
Gruevski announces that parliamentary elections will be held on April 27, at the same time as a possible second round of elections in the presidential election. The decision comes when the smaller government partner BDI does not want to support incumbent President Gjorge Ivanov, who is believed to have fully supported VMRO-DPMNE’s Macedonian-nationalist policy despite being the president over party politics.
Changes in the electoral law
Parliament adopts amendments to the electoral law before the April presidential election. Among other things, restrictions are imposed on how much grants candidates can receive and misuse of public funds in the election campaigns can lead to imprisonment. The list of lists must also be updated four times a year. The amendments, which have been debated in Parliament for several years, are in line with EU standards.