The competence of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Macedonia is solely defined by the Constitution.
Several laws contain provisions which determine the obligation of certain organs to submit, in certain situations, initiatives before the Court for commencing a procedure in order to arbitrate the constitutionality and legality of certain acts; however, they are not a source of Court’s competence. For instance, if the act being challenged is not a regulation by its content, the Constitutional Court shall not accept the initiative of the organ, although its submission was a result of a legal obligation.
According to the Constitution, the Constitutional Court has the following competences:
Within the framework of this competence, the Constitutional Court decides on the conformity of regulations with the Constitution and laws, as well as the constitutionality of the programs and statutes of political parties and associations of citizens.
The control over the constitutionality and legality of normative acts is an abstract one, a posteriori, and it is applicable only on valid acts. Preventative control is not specified in the Constitution as a possibility, not even for international agreements. The status of the international agreements in the legal system, in reference to the Constitutional Court’s competence is rather vague and in current practice the Court does not regard them as being subject to constitutional/judiciary evaluation. Exception to the rule that the Court only controls valid acts is given in the Rules of Procedure which anticipates the possibility of the Court to decide on the constitutionality and legality of a normative act not in force since the commencement of procedure assessing its constitutionality and legality.
Besides laws, collective agreements and programs and statutes of political parties whose identification is rather simple, different other normative acts regulating certain issues in a general way (books of rules, decrees, decisions, etc. of state organs and local self-government organs or organizations having public mandates) may be challenged before the Court. The Court accepts the competence over an act even when it does not satisfy the form of regulations, but obviously regulates certain issues in a general way.
Within the framework of this competence, the Court may decide on the constitutionality and legality of an act as a whole or in its certain parts and articles, which depends on the indications in the initiative and by its own judgment.
According to the Constitution, the Constitutional Court protects the freedoms and rights of the individual and citizen regarding the freedom of conviction, conscience, thought and public expression, political association and activities, and prohibition of discrimination among citizens on grounds of sex, race, religious, national, social and political affiliation.
Different from abstract normative control, subject to evaluation within this competence are individual acts and activities of the organs of the public authority which the citizens consider to violate some of the declared constitutional rights. Besides the directness of the request (constitutional complaint) for protection of rights violated by an individual act or actions, the second characteristic of this competence is that the subject for challenge may not only be an administrative act, but also a court decision at any instance.
Regardless of the fact that introduction of this competence with the Constitution of 1991 was a significant novelty in the tradition of constitutional judiciary in the Republic of Macedonia, its restrictiveness only to the three already mentioned groups of freedoms and rights becomes a serious obstacle for more serious direct Court protection of other constitutional freedoms and rights of the individual and citizen.
In order to fulfill this classical competence of the constitutional judiciary, the Constitutional Court decides on conflict of competences among the bearers of legislative, executive and judiciary power, as well as on conflict of competences between the organs of the Republic and the units of the local self-government. Focused on protection of the principle of separation of powers and of the local self-government, as fundamental values of the constitutional system of the Republic of Macedonia, this competence may be established equally in the case of positive and/or negative conflict of competences among the organs. In practice, however, rarely are these disputes commenced, but the Court very often decides on this type of conflicts by controlling the constitutionality of normative acts decreeing competences to organs, which, according to the Constitution, do not belong to them.
Upon proposal of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia, the Constitutional Court decides on the accountability of the President of the Republic in case of violation of the Constitution and laws in exercising his/her rights and duties. The Assembly enacts the proposal for commencing the procedure by a two-thirds majority vote of the representatives. Provided that the Constitutional Court by a majority of vote of the judges considers the President accountable, the office of the President is ceased by the force of the Constitution.
The Constitutional Court, by official duty, determines the conditions under which the office of the President of the Republic is ceased. They are: death, resignation, permanent inability to perform his/her duties and termination of the mandate by the force of the Constitution (for instance, expiring of the term he/she has been elected for). This competence is significant not only for creating conditions for election of a new president, but also because the ceased presidential office activates the provision under which the office president of the Republic will be carried out by the President of the Assembly up till the election of a new president.
The Constitutional Court also decides on immunity of the President of the Republic of Macedonia as well as on immunity of the Court judges.