In 2007 47 local governments from the 3 previous project stages were invited to take further their experiences with “Transparent Poland”” (PP) program. This project lasted from March to November 2007. The invited communities were one of the most active and advanced bodies in introducing previous stages of the program. The PP-Forum offered an opportunity to bring together the governments and allow information sharing and exchange of interesting practices. Moreover, strengths and weaknesses of the hitherto approach were pinpointed. The main goal of this engagement supported by external experts was to work out an internal audit scheme for both effectiveness appraisal and evaluation of local governance enhancing mechanisms enacted during the previous stages of the program. Monitoring and assessment of the at-that-time utilized procedures was carried out and policy recommendations were spell out to fine tune the effectiveness of the local governments’ actions.
Another objective of this stage was to create a set of solutions and recommendations that could be later on shared with other self-governments, which did not participate in this project phase. The final goal was to establish a benchmarking group of advanced in implementation of the program activities local governments, which in further years could be utilized as a reference point for other self-governments, which would like to take on some of the program recommendations. This benchmarking group could also share their experiences with and offer advice to other local governments.
At this stage the program enlarged its geographical scope and pilot projects began in other countries of the region (Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia). The project continued in 2008.”
2005-2006: Batory Foundation and the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP) initiated in 2005 a project named ‘Monitoring of electoral campaign financing’ and its name is self explanatory. During initial 2005-2006 period the project encompassed monitoring of both presidential and local government electoral campaigns.
2006-2008: Those observations pushed both organizations to take steps in order to amend the current inefficiencies. In 2008 they came up with proposals of amending the electoral law, especially in terms of presidential campaign financing and presented it before the parliamentary legislative committee.
Local government 2006: The monitoring of finances of local government electoral campaign was ignited in June 2006. The Batory Foundation trained 15 local NGOs and associations across Poland in the project area. These organizations were to impartially monitor and publish data about campaign financing sources, with a special stress put on the issue if the public money is used to finance incumbent majors/presidents’ campaigns. Additionally, resources utilized for media campaign, public events as well as donations were analyzed. This action was to show that the society not only care about electoral campaign finances, but also can control them.
2009: The third edition of this still ongoing project took place in 2009 during the electoral campaign to the European Parliament (EP). Again close attention was paid to campaign expenditures, financing sources and engagement of public funds by public officials for their or their colleagues campaigns. Monitoring was carried out at both national and local levels and observed irregularities were reported and disclosed in the intermediary report.
This initiative (monitoring of electoral campaign promises) has been running since 2001 in order to present anti-corruption-oriented proposals of political parties in an unbiased and unpartisan fashion. For this purpose a single-issue coalition of Polish NGOs, called AKOP, was brought to life. AKOP or Antykorupcyjna Koalicja Organizacji Pozarzadowych (Anti-corruption Coalition of Non-governmental Organizations) composes of major domestic NGOs, i.e. Batory Foundation, The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, The Foundation for Social Communication, Center for Citizenship Education, The Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups. The latter two joined AKOP in 2005.
It began with monitoring of the parliamentary electoral campaign in 2001 in order to hold politicians accountable to their electoral promises pertaining to fight against corruption. Since then on before every parliamentary election (2005, 2007) AKOP has been asking political parties about their position on issues related to anti-corruption and substantial measures that a party would take during the new term. Then those promises have been published on the organization website and the coalition has been elaborating annual reports on fulfilling promised targets and actions.
Additionally to the electoral promises monitoring, AKOP also keep tracking the developments in the law-making arena. It submits its remarks on legislative projects that are important for the anti-corruption sphere. The coalition also issues statements on government’s (non-)implementation of anti-corruption strategies/plans. By and large, the AKOP is a watch dog of activities and declaration aimed against corruption that happens at the political level.
This new pilot project within Transparent Poland framework was introduced in 2008. An appraisal of the district and municipality self-governments’ actions was carried out by external bodies. During this initiative 16 districts were examined and all but one were granted with a renewable certificate of ‘Przejrzysta Polska’ (the logo of the program is a blue diamond, which by now should be very well recognizable) for the period 2008-2010. Additionally, among 32 local governments from the PP-Forum phase a contest was organized for the friendliest Public Information Bulletin, which is an official web site that is required by the law, where all public information on a given community should be published.
This project, ‘Law-making process monitoring’, was initiated in 2006 by the Stefan Batory Foundation and Institute of Public Affairs (01.2006-12.2007). Thanks to the newly enacted in 2005 law on lobbing the NGOs and other organizations obtained an opportunity to monitor, follow more closely and also participate in legislative law-making processes. The engaged organizations monitored law projects with a significant impact on the anti-corruption sphere. The goal of this undertaking was twofold. On the one hand it intended to empirically appraise the possibility and effectiveness of the NGO participation in the legislative process. On the other hand, assessing the law making process transparency was envisaged.
In the textbooks on democratic transition, Central and Eastern Europe provides the model of success. Yet in Brussels concern over the politics of the new EU members has been mounting. The day after accession, when conditionality has faded, the influence of the EU vanished like a short-term anesthetic. Political parties needed to behave during accession in order to reach this highly popular objective, but once freed from these constraints, they returned to their usual ways. Now we see Central and Eastern Europe as it really is—a region that has come far but still has a way to go.