Civil Society for Better Public Policies

“Civil Society for Better Public Policies” is a collection of eight texts on the public policy cycle and public administration reform whose authors are experts in this field from the country and the region. This publication was prepared within the project “Participatory, Informative, Open Public Administration – #PIO” implemented by the Politikon Network (PIN) in partnership with the Open Dialogue Network (MOD) with the support of the Ministry of Public Administration.



Perception of Public Administration – Public Opinion Survey 2020 

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 14.26.54Citizens in Montenegro are not satisfied with the public administration performance, but they are not active enough to influence the public policies’ improvement that directly affect their rights, according to public opinion poll conducted for the Politikon Network.

Respondents believe that the Government, the parliament, the judiciary and local self-governments are not free from political influence: 69.8% of respondents believe that the law is not equally applied to all. In their opinion, the biggest problem in the work of state administration and local self-government is clientelism – employment “through the connections”, 33.8% opted for this answer for the state and 39.1% for the local level. Corruption, outdated procedures, and lack of capacity are problems that citizens also cite. Citizens most often turn to public administration for the personal documents’ issuance. When it comes to initiatives and public debates, the percentage of citizens/respondents who actively participate in them is at a worryingly low level. During the last year, only 9.1% of them participated in the initiative to solve a problem in their municipality, while 4.7% were active during the public debate related to some municipal regulations. 20.3% of respondents are informed about the mechanisms enabling citizens to participate in the decision-making, while they usually refer to public debates and petitions as mechanisms they know about. One-fifth of respondents claim to be fully aware of the available mechanisms to report corruption, one-third have heard of certain mechanisms but are not aware of how they are applied, while two-fifths claim to have almost no information in this area.

As many as 88.1% of respondents have never requested data based on a request for free access to information. When it comes to the causes of inactivity, citizens most often state insufficient information about the mechanisms of participation – this option was chosen by almost a quarter of respondents. Other reasons include distrust and the awareness that their opinion would not be taken into account. The largest number of respondents, 28.4%, believe that campaigns and increased involvement of the public administration are the key to increasing civic participation. Almost a quarter believe that the emphasis should be on the citizens’ activity, and that increasing the number of their initiatives is a way to ensure their greater participation.

The public opinion survey was conducted during February and March 2020 within the project “Participatory, Informative, Open Public Administration – #PIO” conducted by the Politikon Network in partnership with the Open Dialogue Network (MOD) with the support of the Ministry of Public Administration. The research was conducted in cooperation with New Page and the agency DeFacto Consultancy. 

Human Resource Management in Montenegrin Municipalities –

Between Needs and Party

Screen Shot 2020-02-21 at 14.27.11Employment in Montenegrin municipalities is a frequent subject of criticism. Recruitment which is not based on real needs and overstaffing affect the financial sustainability of municipalities and are also often linked to elections and highlighted as an instrument for exerting pressure on citizens, thereby undermining merit-based employment. Therefore, with this analysis, we wanted to test the extent to which the recruitment procedures have been improved and the organization and number of employees have changed since the last parliamentary election in 2016, as well as the adoption of the new 2018 Public Administration Optimization Plan. (available only in Montenegrin)

This analysis was prepared within the (Anti) Corruption Action project implemented by Politikon Network in cooperation with Open Dialogue Network and Institute for Business and Financial Literacy. The project was supported through the program “Let’s Put Corruption in the Museum”, run by the Center for Civic Education (CCE), in cooperation with NGO CEMI, NGO Bonum, NGO UL info, NGO Za druga, funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration.

Audit Findings in Montenegrin Municipalities

Screen Shot 2020-02-21 at 15.08.19The aim of this analysis is to point out problems in the work of municipalities in Montenegro based on the State Audit Institution’s findings in the 2012 – 2019 period. The role of the SAI is timely disclosure of the unlawful practices in public spendings, deviations from accepted standards and non – compliance with law. The main function of the SAI is to independently report on programs, functions and activities of public funds users, in order to provide reliable security and assessment of the functioning of the public sector. (available only in Montenegrin).

This analysis was prepared within the (Anti) Corruption Action project implemented by Politikon Network in cooperation with Open Dialogue Network and Institute for Business and Financial Literacy. The project was supported through the program “Let’s Put Corruption in the Museum”, run by the Center for Civic Education (CCE), in cooperation with NGO CEMI, NGO Bonum, NGO UL info, NGO Za druga, funded by the European Union and the Ministry of Public Administration.

What can the EU do about the rule of law in the Western Balkans? 

– Elements for a new enlargement methodology

Screen Shot 2020-01-07 at 16.46.51The on-going debate at the European Union (EU) and Member State (MS) levels on the new enlargement methodology indicates there is a different understanding across Europe on how to renew the accession process. The French veto over the start of EU accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania, despite the European Commission’s recommendation, and a non-paper coming from the same address, have divided stakeholder views in the Western Balkans and the EU. Actors are split between those who find the necessary impetus to revitalize the process in the French document, and those who see it only as a new attempt to keep the Western Balkan countries at a distance, with aggravating steps for candidate countries that will not necessarily lead to an acceleration of the democratization process. Another recent proposal by nine EU Member States, which was a direct response to the French document, suggests revision of the process on alternative grounds and with additional instruments. In this policy brief, we focus on lessons learned from the use of EU instruments to strengthen the rule of law so far. By looking at new proposals made from recently published documents, we also propose elements for a new methodology for the enlargement process which relates specifically to rule of law reform in the Western Balkans. This brief was developed within the framework of the ‘Rule of law in the Western Balkans: Reinventing the rules of the game’ project, which Politikon Network implements together with CRTA from Serbia and Tim Institute from North Macedonia with the support of the European Fund for the Balkans (EFB) through the Think and Link Regional Policy Programme 2019.

Elections in Montenegro: Stuck in an Envelope

Cover_Elections in MNEThe ‘envelope affair’ broke on 11 January, 2019, after the release of a video clip showing the President of the ‘Atlas Group’, Duško Knežević, handing an envelope to the former Mayor of Podgorica, Slavoljub Stijepović, which contained 97,500 euros for the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and was intended to be used for the 2016 parliamentary election campaign. Knežević claims that he acted in agreement with the DPS President, Milo Đukanović. The DPS leader has confirmed the donation, adding that many ‘helped’ the DPS in this manner, not only Knežević. To the uninformed viewer observing the character of the Montenegrin political system, it would seem logical that the affair would prompt swift resignations and a quick reaction from the competent institutions. On the contrary, what ensued was a virtual stalemate, with the main actor in the affair still maintaining his position as General Secretary of the President and his membership in the DPS Presidency. Illegal donations for the purposes of election campaigning are an ingrained part of the Montenegrin reality, even now that there is concrete evidence to prove it. However, the conduct of Montenegro’s institutions hasn’t changed much since the ‘envelope affair’. Therefore, this study aims to chronologically describe the (non)engagement of institutions, as well as work patterns which influence the perception of their politicisation. Through an analysis of undertaken steps and the institutional response to an affair that cast a shadow over the Montenegrin political scene for many months, this case study offers a prism through which the lack of responsibility and transparency in the country’s institutional system can be viewed.

Media in (Trap of) Election Campaigns: the Case of Serbia

This paper aims to shed more light on the role of the media in electoral campaigning in Serbia, with a particular focus on the roots of most pressing vulnerabilities, problems Cover_Media in Trap of Election Campaigns in Serbiaand obstacles that are hampering media ethics and equal media representation. In order to grasp the extent and consequences of the problem of media performance in the elections, the paper provides an overview of the state of play of the media scene in Serbia. The focus is placed on the electronic media, as it has the largest influence in comparison to other media formats and consumes the largest amount of money that political actors in Serbia spend on election campaigning, with particular emphasis on strategies and patterns for establishing political and economic influence on media in Serbia. Another key component influencing the electoral conditions in Serbia that is related to the media is the citizens’ right to information, which has not been institutionally protected during the past elections in Serbia. This lack steams both from incomplete legal and institutional framework as well as from the lack of readiness to implement the existing legislation, which is illustrated through the analysis of the work of the Regulatory Body for the Electronic Media during 2016, 2017 and 2018 election cycles at national and local level. Voters’ right is to be informed about the electoral offer as a prerequisite for making informed decisions for whom to vote. It is hence necessary to guarantee equal representation of all electoral lists and candidates in the electronic media. Along these lines, the paper offers concrete recommendations for overcoming key challenges hampering the performance of the media in the framework of election campaigning.

Transparency and Accountability of Institutions Responsible for the Oversight of Campaign Financing in North Macedonia

Campaign financing, in its most broad and universal meaning, is often defined as the “raising and spending of money intended to influence a political vote, such as the election of a candidate, or a referendum”. Regardless of whether it occurs in developPIN_Elections_Covered western democracies or countries going through a democratic transition, this part of the electoral process is almost always located in the “grey zone”. In the Republic of North Macedonia, campaign financing has an important role in the electoral process. All of the relevant rules and regulations are located in the country’s Electoral Code (EC), which allocates several distinct sections to detailed aspects of campaign financing. As amendments to the EC are adopted frequently, very often on the eve of elections, campaign financing rules tend to change and develop rapidly. Three institutions are pivotal to the system of campaign financing: The State Election Commission (SEC), the State Commission for Prevention of Corruption (SCPC) and the State Audit Office (SAO). All three play a specific role in the different phases of campaign financing oversight and reporting.