Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Macedonia received an upward trend arrow due to presidential and local elections that were deemed fair and competitive by outside observers and the implementation of reforms recommended after the 2008 parliamentary elections.
The governing center-right party won the 2009 presidential and municipal elections, which observers deemed a significant improvement on the unruly parliamentary elections of 2006 and 2008. Macedonia made some progress on reforms related to its European Union candidacy during the year, but the remaining obstacles included a long-running dispute with Greece over the country’s name, and unresolved questions about the level of autonomy granted to the ethnic Albanian minority.
Macedonia is an electoral democracy. Most elections held since independence have been deemed satisfactory according to international standards, though the 2008 parliamentary polls were marred by a number of irregularities. The political climate surrounding the 2009 presidential and parliamentary elections was much calmer than in 2008, and the electoral boards reverted to a mixed professional-political composition designed to limit the possibility for fraud.
Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, but societal attitudes limit women’s participation in nontraditional roles. Women currently hold 2 out of 22 cabinet positions and 39 out of 120 parliament seats, more than at any time since independence. Every third candidate on a party’s electoral list must be female. In the 2009 municipal elections, however, none of the 84 available mayoral positions was filled by a woman. Domestic violence and trafficking of women remain serious problems. In Albanian Muslim areas, many women are subjected to proxy voting by male relatives and are frequently denied access to education.