The debate on economic policies between the Minister of Finance, Kiril Minoski and additional Deputy Minister of Finance, Kire Naumov, from September 16 and yesterday (October 6, 2016) between Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski and additional deputy Minister, Oliver Andonov, despite all its weaknesses, it showed there is still a ray of hope after a decade of stalled mutual confrontations between politicians.
It has imposed the dilemma whether it is possible to have a televised debate between the leaders of the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE leaders, Zoran Zaev and Nikola Gruevski.
The SDSM say that they have no problem if their leader was to appear in a televised debate with his political rival.
“Zoran Zaev is always ready to debate with Gruevski. We call upon Gruevski for a debate, at any time and any media outlet. The same applies to any representative of the SDSM who wants to debate a representative of the VMRO-DPMNE”, said SDSM party spokesperson Petre Shilegov.
The VMRO-DPMNE, however, neither confirmed nor denied whether Gruevski is ready for a televised duel with the leader of the opposition.
“We would have to consider it, and it depends on the agenda”, said Ivo Kotevski, the Director of the Centre’s Communications of the ruling party.
The information desk at MTV said that they’re making plans for television debates, but will reveal more when Parliament dissolves.
“Preparations are underway and we will have debates with politicians before the election. Of course we would want a debate between Zaev and Gruevski, who wouldn’t? Said MTV to “Meta”.
Nikola Gruevski has avoided a televised confrontation television from 2006, when came to power.
Journalist Aleksandar Chomovski had the honour, a decade ago, on his show “Chumu” on A1 television to hold the last TV confrontation between Gruevski and Zaev, but on a wider scale. Then, on his show were guests Gruevski who was Prime Minister, with his “mini-cabinet” Zaev, as vice president of the SDSM, with more experts and journalists.
Until then, the public had not seen a direct televised debate between representatives of the major Macedonian parties after overtook the VMRO-DPMNE in 2003.
Radmila Sekerinska received an invitation for a confrontation before early parliamentary elections in 2008, when she was the President of the SDSM. At the time, through a video screen, just before the election, Sekerinska ask Gruevski for a televised debate told him “not to run away from a woman’s skirt”.
Also, in the past, the VMRO-DPMNE leader and the then Prime Minister was invited for a TV debate by the former President of the SDSM, Branko Crvenkovski.
As head of the ruling party and as Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski never accepted any of these offers for a televised debate.
Curiously, Branko Crvenkovski also rejected an invitation for a debate in 2002 sent by the then-Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski.
The last TV duel between party leaders was in 1998, before parliamentary elections, when in the studio, facing each other, sat the leaders of the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, Branko Crvenkovski and Ljubco Georgievski.
The first Macedonian politician to refuse a televised debate was former President Kiro Gligorov, during the presidential election in 1994, he refused to face his opponent, Ljubisa Georgievski.
In 2004, during the presidential elections, the then candidates of the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE Branko Crvenkovski and Sasko Kedev had a televised confrontation.
After a televised debate on MTV between the current head of state, President Gjorge Ivanov and his rival ahead of the presidential elections in 2014, immediately after the debate, “Pavel Shatev” conducted a telephone survey among the viewers regarding public opinion polls in Macedonia. The survey showed that Ivanov was the clear winner in the debate, as confirmed by the election.