IRI North Macedonia Report Shows Unresponsive Mayors and Lack of Civic Participation in Local Government

Skopje, North Macedonia – A recent qualitative study in North Macedonia by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research shows a predominantly poor performance of mayors and a lack of citizen involvement with local government, primarily due to disengaged local government. Additionally, Macedonian citizens support EU accession, but not at the cost of their national identity.  

The study indicates citizens are largely disinterested in participating in local government, citing detached and indifferent mayors as the primary cause. They are often not familiar with the names and work of the municipal councilors as well. While some municipal mayors earn positive reviews, a majority of those evaluated earn mixed or mainly negative reviews. Those who receive positive evaluations tend to actively communicate with citizens, deliver on promises, and appear accessible.  

“Throughout much of North Macedonia, mayors and municipal councilors need to be more responsive to their constituents through improved delivery of basic services and better communication with citizens regarding their local issues and needs,” said Paul McCarthy, IRI’s Regional Director for Europe. “Otherwise, they risk further citizen disengagement or losses in upcoming local elections.”  

The mayors who participants regard as unsatisfactory leaders are cited as not responsive to citizens’ needs and often failing to follow through on campaign promises. In these cases, participants feel their elected officials are inefficient, uninterested, and occasionally unfit.  

Although confidence that North Macedonia will complete the EU accession process is low, support for EU membership remains generally high. Participants believe EU integration would benefit North Macedonia, likely increasing the overall welfare of citizens and decreasing corruption. However, there is skepticism about whether the country will complete the process of becoming an EU member, expressing concern over the ongoing dispute with Bulgaria and other domestic issues.  


The qualitative research was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by BRIMA market research firm and is based on 21 online focus group discussions (FGDs) held in 18 municipalities from March 3 to April 9, 2021. The FGDs were conducted with eligible, undecided voters from various segments of the population. The results do not necessarily represent the opinions of all undecided voters.

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