The fight against corruption must continue in times of crisis. Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic has shown that reduced anticorruption efforts contribute to even deeper crisis and prevent effective response from the institutions.

Stagnation in the rule of law and fight against corruption has been noted in most reports monitoring the progress of the country. North Macedonia is ranked 78th in the world according to the Democracy Index of The Economist, which is one place lower compared to 2019. On a scale from 0 (authoritarian regimes) to 10 (full democracies), with 5.89 points, the country remains in the group of hybrid regimes which are characterized by weaknesses in the functioning of government, significant challenges in terms of rule of law and widespread corruption.

The country is also classified as a transitional-hybrid regime in last year’s Nations in Transit report by Freedom House, which measures the degree of democratization and progress in implementing reforms. North Macedonia is graded with 3.75 points on a scale from 1 to 7, where 7 means full democratization. Although the report shows little progress on some parameters – the electoral process and media independence, the state of the fight against corruption remains unchanged and largely contributes to the low level of democratization of the country.

The latest Freedom in the World 2021 report by Freedom House shows slight progress in reducing obstructions in the work of Parliament. However, corruption remains a serious problem in society, with serious corruption scandals going unpunished.

Finally, in 2020, North Macedonia was ranked the worst by far according to the Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International. The country ranks 111th on the list, which is five places lower compared to last year. The drop in this ranking indicates stagnation in the fight against corruption as the index points remain unchanged.

The process of democratization, which provides functioning institutions and rule of law, is a necessary precondition for tackling corruption. An effective fight against corruption cannot be implemented without resilient institutions operating in accordance with their competencies. One of the main reasons for such setbacks is the neglect of the checks and balances system while dealing with the crisis. The transfer of legislative competencies to the Government has hardly been subject to oversight by Parliament.

In dealing with the crisis, the measures taken to protect the population were often seen as restrictive and at odds with the democratic values. With this in mind, they must be subject to Parliamentary oversight in order for such restrictions to be controlled, even though they are means of dealing with the crisis. This would ensure that the restrictions of the rights are fully justified. Effective oversight is also necessary in order to ensure the proper allocation of funds to the institutions most involved in dealing with the crisis. This would reduce possibilities for abuse and contribute to more effective crisis management.

The Anti-Corruption Talk in Parliament (ACT in Parliament) project includes research and advocacy activities with primary objective – support of the report process in North Macedonia by strengthening the supervision role of the Parliament in the fight against corruption.

The project is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy – NED of the United States. IDSCS is responsible for the content which does not reflect the positions of the National Endowment for Democracy – NED.