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Electoral activities of UG Zašto ne

Alisa Karović

It was very busy September and October in Bosnia
During the last election campaign in Bosnia and Herzegovina UG „Zašto ne“ conducted a series of activities that in some way completed and summarized different projects of the organization over the last 4 years. In addition to the publication of the final results of monitoring of the fulfillment of election promises of the parties that were in power in the country in the term of 2010 – 2014, the organization launched three online platforms dealing from different perspectives with elections and the electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Glasometar, Izborni monitor (Election Monitoring) and Čiste liste (Clean Lists).

Istinomjer in the electoral attire
Istinomjer website, after announcing final results of monitoring, was totally devoted to the election campaign, publishing content such as analysis debates broadcasted in public TV stations, rating the truthfulness of statements of the candidates during election rallies, analyzing statements of parties’ officials in the media, but also presenting satirical point of view in the “Election circus” column.
Three public broadcasters in BiH (BHRT, FTV and RTRS) organized debates of candidates for parliaments in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as the debate of candidates for members of the BiH Presidency and the President and Vice-President of Republika Srpska. Istinomjer published analysis of the debates on weekly basis, and examined the statements of the candidates of the parties which were in power in the past 4 years. Moreover they also examined the debates of candidates for the Presidency.
In the last week of the election campaign Istinomjer has released several video clips analyzing statements of top officials in both entities, like the RS Prime Minister Željka Cvijanović, the FBiH Prime Minister Nermina Nikšić, the Bosniak member of the BiH Presidency Bakir Izetbegovic and others.

Election Calculator for voters
Before the last elections in 2010, UG „Zašto ne“ created online application Glasometar – a calculator for elections. This application enabled citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina to compare their views on key political issues with the attitudes and policies represented by political parties in the campaign for the term 2010 – 2014.
This year’s application was carried out in collaboration with the Slovak organization Kohovolit and was based on a technical solution that has been developed and used for the purposes of general and local elections in Slovakia and other EU countries within Votematch initiative that combines the “electoral calculators” from 14 countries in Europe.

Through the preparation of this year’s application, 32 issues were singled out from over 60 originally defined questions which touched the most important themes dominating political life in the last term. Parties’ answers in the application were in fact an estimate of their position on all issues, and were formed by combining official statements, programs, public documents and their voting records as well as their responses to the questionnaire sent to them during the research phase.

Until the day of the election Glasometar application had 15,000 visitors and the questionnaire was filled in by people from almost all of BiH municipalities, mostly from the cities and larger centers. Ethnic structure was also diverse, 60% of users declared themselves as Bosniaks, 11% as Serbs, 7% as Croats and about 16% didn’t identified themselves as member of any of the three constituent peoples, while 6% of users didn’t answer this question.
Regarding the issues raised by Glasometar, the greatest number of users (90%) agreed that it was necessary to abolish the constitutional provision that prevented the reduction of salaries of MPs during the term. In response to several other questions more than 80% of users agreed also that the differentiated VAT rate should be introduced, that everyone should have access to treatment and health care across the whole country, that illegally acquired assets should be confiscated, that the EU integration should be priority in any case, and that strengthening of the position of the court and the prosecutor’s office is at high importance.

Civic monitoring of the electoral process
On the online platform for election monitoring – Izborni monitor – in addition to finding basic information about the electoral process in Bosnia and news related to the general elections of 2014, users were given the opportunity to report irregularities during the election campaign and on the election day. Thanks to the interactive map based on the Ushahidi platform, users were able to easily report and locate issues, so that it was visible to other users of the site. It provided the opportunity to report issues by e-mail, as well as through calls and by sending text messages to numbers of all three telecom operators in BiH. This way, citizens themselves were able to participate in monitoring of the electoral process in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Along with launching the website, the organization’s activists prepared a street campaign in 10 cities in order to talk to people face to face on the streets, present this website and other projects like Glasometr and to present the results of monitoring the fulfillment of campaign promises done by the Istinomjer team.
The first platform to see the candidates’ lists.

Čiste liste (Clean Lists)

Another useful online platform complemented activities of „Zašto ne“ in the election period, and it was a website Čiste liste (Clean Lists) aiming at educating voters about the political offer of the candidates’ lists. This web project was conducted in cooperation with Transparency International BiH, created as a research product on various aspects of work of authorities’ representatives in the previous term, and included also other relevant data from research of other civil society organizations (in particular data obtained from CCI and the Center for Investigative Reporting), and data received directly from institutions. This created a page where voters could find information about all candidates, especially about candidates who had already held public functions in the previous term.
By visiting the website, users could find information on how the ballots at their pooling stations would look like, who were the candidates on the lists for all levels of government along with the information about the work of the political parties which nominated them. This platform was unique, because no other online platform in BiH hadn’t offer the possibility of easy and comprehensive review of individual candidates.
In addition, voters could obtained more specific information about candidates who in the previous mandate hold public functions. In this case, the platform provided information about their biographies, about their work in public institutions, and about the fulfillment of the promises of the party they represented, if they held executive functions in the previous term.