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Croatia

Improvement of Transparency of Election and Referendum Campaigns (HR0015)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Croatia Action Plan 2012-2013

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Administration; State Electoral Commission (editorial note: the Ministry of Administration is the lead institution for activities 6.1., 6.2. (along with the State Electoral Commission as a supporting institution) and 6.3. (with the State Electoral Commission and the Digital Information Documentation Office), while the State Electoral Commission is the lead institution for activity 6.4.)

Support Institution(s): Digital Information Documentation Office

Policy Areas

E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Money in Politics, Records Management

IRM Review

IRM Report: Croatia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Croatia IRM Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: Yes Starred

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Public Accountability , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of election campaigns, Implementation indicators: Proposal of amendments to the Act on Financing Political Activities and Election Campaign on issues that proved to be insufficient during implementation of the Act drafted and adopted at the Government session. Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of referendum campaigns.. Implementation indicators: Proposal of amendments to the Act on Financing Political Activities and Election Campaign which would regulate the transparent financing of referendum campaigns drafted and adopted at the Government session. Improve the manner of collecting and publishing data on financing political activities and election campaigns Implementation indicators: develop an application solution for a single manner of collecting data from participants of election campaigns and from participants of regular financing of political activities, development of permanently accessible and searchable databases of Annual financial reports of political parties, independent representatives and bodies (editorial note: members) of representative bodies of local and regional self-government elected from the voter group ballot, and financial reports on the financing of election campaigns of political parties, independent ballot leaders, or leaders of the voter group ballot and candidates, which enables simple searching on various grounds. Improve the process of election of members of voter committees at elections and referendums, Necessary resources: HRK 2 million Implementation indicators: online available application for conducting education of persons for work in voter committees, upon completion of the executed modules of the application for the education of persons for work in voter committees, the creation of an automatic database with the results of the e-exam and other relevant data on education participants (experience, party affiliations, etc.), priority appointment of the chairperson and deputy of voter committees based on their rank in the database Lead institutions: Ministry of Administration; State Electoral Commission (editorial note: the Ministry of Administration is the lead institution for activities 6.1., 6.2. (along with the State Electoral Commission as a supporting institution) and 6.3 (with the State Electoral Commission and the Digital Information Documentation Office), while the State Electoral Commission is the lead institution for activity 6.4.) Supporting institutions: Digital Information Documentation Office Start date: Not specified, End date: 31 December 2016

IRM End of Term Status Summary

6. Improvement of Transparency of Election and Referendum Campaigns

Commitment Text:

6.1. Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of election campaigns

Implementation indicators: Proposal of amendments to the Act on Financing Political Activities and Election Campaign on issues that proved to be insufficient during implementation of the Act drafted and adopted at the Government session.

Lead institutions: Ministry of Administration

Supporting institutions: State Electoral Commission

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2014

6.2. Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of referendum campaigns

Implementation indicators: Proposal of amendments to the Act on Financing Political Activities and Election Campaign which would regulate the transparent financing of referendum campaigns drafted and adopted at the Government session.

Lead institutions: Ministry of Administration

Supporting institutions: State Electoral Commission

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2014

6.3. Improve the manner of collecting and publishing data on financing political activities and election campaigns

Implementation indicators:

  • develop an application solution for a single manner of collecting data from participants of election campaigns and from participants of regular financing of political activities
  • development of permanently accessible and searchable databases of Annual financial reports of political parties, independent representatives and bodies (editorial note: members) of representative bodies of local and regional self-government elected from the voter group ballot, and financial reports on the financing of election campaigns of political parties, independent ballot leaders, or leaders of the voter group ballot and candidates, which enables simple searching on various grounds.

Lead institutions: Ministry of Administration

Supporting institutions: Digital Information Documentation Office; State Electoral Commission

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2016

6.4. Improve the process of election of members of voter committees at elections and referendums

Necessary resources: HRK 2 million

Implementation indicators:

  • online available application for conducting education of persons for work in voter committees
  • upon completion of the executed modules of the application for the education of persons for work in voter committees, the creation of an automatic database with the results of the e-exam and other relevant data on education participants (experience, party affiliations, etc.)
  • priority appointment of the chairperson and deputy of voter committees based on their rank in the database

Lead institutions: State Electoral Commission

Supporting institutions: None specified

Start date: Not specified   End date: September 2015

 
Commitment Aim:

Continuing the previously achieved progress in the area of transparency of election campaign financing, this action plan envisaged amendments to the current legislation in the areas that have proven to be insufficiently regulated, in cases of elections (milestone 6.1), referenda (milestone 6.2), and campaigns related to them (6.3). The commitment also aimed at improving the selection process for voter committee members (6.4).

Status

Midterm: Substantial

6.1. Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of election campaigns (substantial)

6.2. Regulate the legislative and institutional framework of transparent financing of referendum campaigns (substantial)

Milestones 6.1 and 6.2 are at a substantial level of implementation, according to the goals and deadlines set out in the action plan. More specifically, the interviewed stakeholders and the self-assessment report state that the Croatian government adopted the draft law on financing of political activities, the electoral campaign, and the referendum at its session held on 26 March 2015. The draft law regulates issues that proved insufficiently regulated under provisions of an earlier law. Parliament discussed the law on 13 May 2015 and voted on the law on 17 May 2015, accepting the proposal of the law. Any comments suggestions and opinions expressed in the discussion were sent to the Ministry of Administration for proposal of a final draft[Note 30: The minutes of meeting are available at http://www.sabor.hr/fgs.axd?id=43455, and the details on the Conclusion of the Parliament can be found in Point 38.]. According to the officials at the Ministry of Administration, the final proposal was made and is being harmonized with the opinions of the competent authorities. However, since the Parliament was no longer in session and was dissolved as of 28 September 2015 due to parliamentary elections held in November 2015, there was a risk of postponing the adoption of the amended legislation.

After the first year of action plan implementation, CSO representatives stated that there is not enough political will to push for the proposed amendments, and that the efforts of the Ministry of Administration were only perfunctory. The Ministry of Administration first assessed this milestone as “complete” in the draft midterm self-assessment report. However, after receiving comments from GONG and other stakeholders, the ministry ammended the final version of the midterm self-assessment report, evaluating this milestone as having achieved “limited” completion.

6.3. Improve the manner of collecting and publishing data on financing political activities and election campaigns (limited)

Interviewed representatives of the Digital Information Documentation Office stated that the annual financial reports and the financial reports on financing of electoral promotion are continually published and can be searched on the office’s website.[Note 31: Available at http://www.digured.hr/Politicke-stranke-i-izbori.] However, the legislative amendments demanding publication of annual financial reports on the office’s website, as envisaged by the milestone, were not completed during the first year of implementation.  

6.4. Improve the process of election of members of voter committees at elections and referendums (limited)

The implementation of this milestone was limited and behind schedule. However, evidence indicated that substantial strides had been made in the period after 1 July 2015. According to the government, the start of the planned activities has been delayed due to the fact that amendments to the Register of Voters Act had yet to be finalised, thus negatively affecting implementation. Amendments on the Register of Voters Act were subsequently adopted by the Parliament on 25 September 2015.[Note 32: Available at http://www.zakon.hr/z/558/Zakon-o-registru-bira%C4%8Da.] Additionally, the Constitutional Court was reviewing certain provisions of the Law on Election of Members of the Croatian Parliament, and the provisions were adopted on 24 September 2015.[Note 33: See more at http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/ustavni-sud-o-izmjenama-zakona-o-izborima-zastupnika-nedopustivi-su-komentari-pojedinih-saborskih-zastupnika---410067.html.] Due to this, pending activities concerning implementation had to be postponed until these processes had been finalised. The IRM researcher therefore noted that at the end of the first year of implementation, this issue was at a standstill, resulting in the completion level being evaluated as limited.

End of term: Limited

The IRM researcher changed the assessment regarding completion for milestones 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3, since the protracted legislative procedure had delayed implementation. The delay was in part caused by the dissolution of the newly appointed government in June 2016, in addition to the general ineffectiveness of Parliament while in session. To be more specific, November 2015 marked the end of the six-month deadline for submitting the final draft proposal to the Parliament, meaning that, according to its Rules of Procedure, the legislative process is thus suspended and the draft must be re-proposed. Since this is a step back from where implementation was at the end of the first year, both milestones 6.1 and 6.2 are now marked for limited instead of substantial completion, and milestone 6.3 remains marked as limited.

In regard to the limited level of completion, the then Croatian government adopted its Annual Plan for Normative Activities in April 2016, with the legislation originally scheduled for adoption in the third trimester and later rescheduled for after the 11 September elections. The next steps, as envisaged by the Ministry of Administration in the draft self-assessment report, are conducting online consultations with the interested public, referring the proposed law to be tabled in government proceedings, adopting it in Parliament, and adopting secondary, implementing regulations.

According to the self-assessment report, the e-learning and training programmes were effective for the Croatian parliamentary elections on 8 November 2015, in accordance with the Law on Election of Members of the Croatian Parliament. It was enacted following a decision by the Constitutional Court in late September 2015. Government officials stated that since the goal of the activity was to have it implemented at regular elections and possible referendums from 2015 onwards, the State Election Commission took all necessary measures to implement the activity. The online educational module was published on the commission’s website. The educational material consisted of educational tests and video materials, which covered all aspects of the committees’ work, with a possibility of accessing online tests. Those who solved the tests were ranked in accordance with the results achieved. This milestone is therefore completed.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Marginal

Civic participation: Major

Public accountability: Did not change

In order to increase the integrity of the election and referenda campaigning and voting process, the action plan envisioned measures to regulate elections, referenda, and their respective campaigns; to collect and publish data; and to improve the appointment process of members of voter committees by establishing online education and testing modules. The potential impact of this commitment was transformative; however, since very limited progress was made on the first three milestones, the commitment registered a marginal impact on improving government openess. The interviewed CSO representatives[Note 34: The interviews were conducted in the period from September to October 2015. For more information, see the IRM midterm report.] stated that there was not enough political will to push for the proposed amendments and that the efforts of the Ministry of Administration were only perfunctory. Only milestone 6.4 was completed in the two-year period. Voting committees administer the implementation of an election, making sure that everything runs smoothly, that the rules are upheld and democratic procedures followed, and that the results are tallied after the voting is done. It had a major effect on civic participation, people approached the online training program without any limits, received the necessary training and took the requisite test. The test results gave a possibility to the electoral commissions of constituencies to appoint presidents and deputy presidents of the voting committees among people who achieved better test results.  The simple fact that this is now an online process, which is more transparent and less prone to outside influence or favoritism, makes citizens more apt to apply.

Carried forward?

The next action has not been drafted or released by the government in accordance with the OGP schedule. The IRM researcher suggests including this commitment’s unfinished milestones in the next action plan for full completion.


Commitments

  1. Implementing Right to Information

    HR0026, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0027, 2018, E-Government

  3. Political Finance Transparency

    HR0028, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Commercial Regulations of Companies Owning Local Governments

    HR0029, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  5. Transparency in NGO Project Finance

    HR0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    HR0031, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  7. Parliamentary Transparency

    HR0032, 2018, E-Government

  8. Media Regulations Framework

    HR0033, 2018, Civic Space

  9. Data Opening

    HR0034, 2018, E-Government

  10. Raising Awareness About Open Data

    HR0035, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Central State Portal

    HR0036, 2018, E-Government

  12. Public Consultations

    HR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. Implementation of Anti-Corruption Policies by NGOs

    HR0038, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  14. Local and Regional Open Government

    HR0039, 2018, E-Government

  15. OGP Sustainability

    HR0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  16. Right to Access Information Legislative Framework

    HR0010, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Improving the Implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act

    HR0011, 2014, Capacity Building

  18. Starred commitment Proactive Release of Information and Opening Data

    HR0012, 2014, Capacity Building

  19. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Starred commitment Improvements of Transparency and Efficiency in Public Administration Work

    HR0014, 2014, Capacity Building

  21. Improvement of Transparency of Election and Referendum Campaigns

    HR0015, 2014, E-Government

  22. Transparency in the Area of Youth Policy

    HR0016, 2014, E-Government

  23. Media Transparency

    HR0017, 2014, Civic Space

  24. Improving Transparency of Information on Members of Parliament and Their Work

    HR0018, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  25. Improving Transparency of Data on Assets of Officials

    HR0019, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  26. Starred commitment Improving the Consultation Process with the Interested Public in Legislative Procedures

    HR0020, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Ensuring the Sustainability of Values and Content of the OGP Initiative

    HR0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  28. Starred commitment Participation in Drafting the New Anti-Corruption Strategy

    HR0022, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  29. Regulation of Lobbying

    HR0023, 2014, Capacity Building

  30. Improving Efficiency of the Ministry of Interior's Complaints Commission

    HR0024, 2014, Justice

  31. Promoting Civil Participation in the Work of Civil Society Organizations

    HR0025, 2014, Civic Space

  32. Improving the Content and Transparency of Budgetary Documents: Publish and Update the State Budget Proposal

    HR0001, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Improving Transparency of Business Activity of the Companies of Special State Interest

    HR0002, 2012, Private Sector

  34. Making the Contents of All Budgetary Documents Understandable and Accessible to Citizens

    HR0003, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  35. Improving Accessibility of Local Budget Contents to the Citizens and the Public: Give Recommendations to Local Units to Publish Budget Documents

    HR0004, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  36. Starred commitment Improving the Legislative Framework for Exercising the Right of Access to Information: Amend the Act on the Right of Access to Information

    HR0005, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  37. Starred commitment Improving Access to Information on Expending Public Resources and Contents of Relevant Registers: Implementation of Acts on Political Activity and Campaign Financing

    HR0006, 2012, Civic Space

  38. Ensuring Transparent Work of Public Authority Bodies in the Service of Exercising Citizen Rights: Enhancement of Web Portal with Info on Exercising Rights

    HR0007, 2012, E-Government

  39. Starred commitment Setting up a System of Participatory Drafting and Monitoring of State and Local Budget Implementation: Public Discussions on Budget Allocation

    HR0008, 2012, Participation in Budget Processes

  40. Starred commitment Improving the Practice of Consulting the Interested Public in Procedures of Adopting New Laws: Amend Procedural Rules

    HR0009, 2012, E-Government