Promoting transparency in election campaign financing in Bulgaria

The primary goal of the project was to promote integrity in political financing and to increase the level of integrity of the democratic process in general. By implementing the project objectives TI-Bulgaria aimed to propose a comprehensive approach, including new forms of promoting transparency in political life through the implementation of a new mechanism for monitoring political financing – the Integrity Pact concept. Other specific objectives included the promotion of an effective dialogue between civil society and political actors for the mechanisms and standards of a transparent political financing process.

Promoting transparency in the financing of political parties in Bulgaria I

The aim of the project is to increase the public awareness regarding the transparency of the political parties’ financing in the country through: 1. Realization of educational seminars and workshops; 2. Development of practical guidelines aimed at increasing the transparency in the financing of the political parties in the country; 3. Development and publication of a special TI index on the matter.

Act on Free Access to Information

A law on free access to information that is a powerful tool for corruption control and watchdog activities has been absent in the Czech legal framework for quite a long time; this project contributed to the successful culmination of the efforts to bring it into life. The seminar was widely inclusive, convening the representatives of the civil society, deputies, journalists and civil servants. The printed outcome of the seminar was distributed to the members of Chamber of Deputies before the vote. The advocacy part and media campaign implemented by TIC targeted three main groups – deputies and senators, journalist and young people. The message was simple – allow for free access to information. Tools like free postcards with a motto “Get informed by your deputy or senator when they allow you to access the information” were used. TIC issued around 10.000 postcards and sent them to all legislators and important journalists; the postcards were also distributed freely by a chain of cinemas, cafes and restaurants. The main message of the campaign was modified and extended for each of the target groups (via press releases, letters or info brochures). The campaign managed to get the deputies and senators under pressure and made some of them to make a public commitment to support the law (43 out of the 200 deputies made the public commitment they would vote for the law). An individual approach to each and every deputy and senator proved efficient; it allowed for expression of their personal opinions and for media coverage. There was also an important role of journalist who were not only transmitting the message but took active part in the campaign. TIC supplied media actively with additional info on how the law works in different European countries or delivered the statements of the involved Czech deputies. The law was adopted in spring 1999 and went into effect as of January 2000.

Conflicts of interest

In order to reduce political corruption the project aimed at enactment of an effective law on the conflict of interest. TIC proposed a draft law and managed to build a coalition around it, advocate the draft successfuly and push it through; the law went into effect as of January 1, 2007. Media campaign was part of the project.

Preventing corruption through education, information and consciousness-raising

The project aimed at increasing anti-corruption awareness through education of the youth, dissemination of anti-corruption information, expansion of sociological basis and awareness-raising on the financing of political parties and campaigns, thus contributing to the development of civil society. The project consisted of four independent but thematically-linked components: 1) preparation of the anti-corruption education course for higher schools; 2) carrying out a long-term TV programme on anti-corruption; 3) using public opinion surveys for improving the anti-corruption measures; 4) round-table discussion on the problems related to the financing of political parties and political campaigns. Intended outcomes: 1) Anti-corruption education introduced into higher school curriculum; 2) Anti-corruption information disseminated through TV on a long-term and regular basis; 3) The public opinion surveys carried out; 4) Round-table discussion on topical issues related to the financing of political parties.

Bureau of Public Information in Rural Locals

Public services rendered to the rural population in Uzhgorod region were analyzed and mechanisms to protect the receipt of services were developed. Aimed at overcoming the rural population’s lack of knowledge concerning their own rights and corruption challenges, a handbook of services was prepared, published, and distributed among citizens and local self-governments in the region. A number of awareness-raising measures to introduce transparency principles were held in pilot villages.

Partnership between the citizens and the municipal administration – a guarantee for transparency and accountability

The project aimed at increasing the capacity of the structures of the civil society in four municipalities in the fight against corruption. The capacity building refers to the capabilities of the civil society organizations to implement models and methods for monitoring and control over the public services provided by the municipal administrations . The project main activities included: 1. development of a local civil society partnership network; 2. survey of best practices in Bulgaria with regard to services of general interest provided by the local authorities 3. development of a web site for the partnership network in order to facilitate the communication between the target groups as well as to ease the monitoring process; 4. analyses of the existing deficiencies in the provision of services of general interest in the selected four municipalities and development of action plans for improvement; 5. realization of round tables with representatives from the civil society sector and the administration in order to discuss and improve the action plans; 6. monitoring over the implementation of the provided recommendations in the action plans; 6. analysis of the results of the project and dissemination of the good practices achieved.

Budget monitoring laboratory II

Continuation of the project ‘Budget monitoring laboratory’ implemented in the previous year. The overarching goals again were long-term and difficult to measure their outcome straight after the project. Projects objectives were:
• improving transparency of local government finances and enhancing citizens participation in budgetary process
• increasing the level of civic control over local authority activities
• enhancing information flow between citizens and local governments

Face to face with corruption: institutionalization of the civic defender and public councils to fight corruption at municipal level

The project aimed to shape an adequate public counteraction against all forms of corruption. Advocacy and capacity building for the local Ombudsman institution (Public Mediator) in Banite municipality and multiplication of the experience (best practices) in other municipalities of the Rhodopa region were some of the projects core activities.

The school of watchdog initiatives II

This was a 2008 continuation of the previous year project run by the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups (SLLGO), with similar objectives, i.e. not only enhance citizens’ awareness of their right to public information, but also increase a number of civic watchdog organizations and initiatives at the local level that attempt to improve local governance and attain more transparent public life without corruption and other pathologies. SLLGO’s goal is to create a country-wide watchdog movement, and the Association intended to provide theoretical knowledge, practical know-how and mutual learning opportunities to organizations and individuals willing to develop watchdog initiatives in their regions in order to increase their confidence, efficiency and effectiveness of their activities.

Civil control – a guarantee for transparent and accessible local authority

The project seeks to improve the role of the structures of the civil society in the city of Gabrovo in the formulation of policies and programs at municipal level. Some of the main project activities were: 1. realization of surveys aimed to define the main problems and deficiencies in communication between the local administration and the civil society at large; 2. monitoring activities regarding the work of the administration and development of precise recommendations for improvement; 3. organization and realization of round tables with representatives from the civil society and experts from the municipal administration aimed to encourage the dialogue and partnership between the two target groups; 4. realization of educational seminars regarding the civil control over the work of the administration; 5. realization of a regional information campaign “Civil society organizations – factor for increasing the transparency and accountability of the municipal administration””.; 6. development of precise recommendations for the public administration on how to incorporate good practices and procedures, which will ease the access to information for the citizens and the business and engage the civil society into the decision making process regarding the provision of services of general public interest.”

Say NO to Corruption

The project developed a guide is intended to help young people with a batch of information about corruption and serious consequences of this fact.

The publication is divided into two chapters.

The first chapter contains general information about what is corruption, what is not corruption, influence traffic, serious consequences of this fact, methods to prevent it, national and international anti-corruption documents etc.

The second chapter contains results, ideas and opinions of young people resulted from developing various activities in the project “Youth against Corruption”, local and final debates on ethics in education and public administration, the findings of a research study on the effects of corruption in education and the results of a survey on the perception of young people about corruption.

This guide has been published in the project “Youth against Corruption”, coordinated by the Pro Democracy Association in partnership with the Romanian Association for Debate, Oratory and Rhetoric, funded by the European Union, through the Transition Facility 2007/19343.01.11 – Strengthening support of civil society in the fight against corruption.

Positive motivation (Open Politics)

As part of the project, politicians were encouraged to publish their assets on a website (access with own password, accuracy of information cannot be verified but the public can check). Politicians could constantly update the information. The campaign targeted individual politicians, not parties, because voters can vote for individual candidates on the party lists (personalized vote).