Ian Schuler (New Rights Group, SAD) moderated the session titled Measuring Truth and Accountability of Government which involved representatives of projects which focus of monitoring of parties in power, in Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania and Egypt.
Vukosava Crnjanski (Crta, Serbia) talked about the success of the project Istinomer, (Truth-o-meter) in the region. Truth-o-meter in Serbia was the first project of such type in the region, and it follows the truthfulness of the statements given by the MPs and the fulfillment of the promises which the MPs give to the electorate in the pre-election period or their political programs. All the results of this monitoring are available online, but they also cooperate with the “offline” media. Vukosava announced that the idea for the project was inspired by the desire to show that not all political parties are the same, and that there is a need to objectively face both with the positive and the negative practices, and to act on strengthening the accountability culture in politics. The website Istinomer stated working 3 years ago, and since then it had 2 million visits.
Tijana Cvjetićanin (Zašto ne, BiH) talked about the methodology of monitoring the statements and the promises, stating that very frequently the politicians and the government official give statements which are unfounded, and which are hard to assess and measure. She also mentioned that there are additional factors in BiH which additionally weaken the accountability culture, such as the complicated administrative system in BiH, the inconsistent behavior of the political parties which constantly enter into different coalitions, and at the same time change their positions and politics.
Aldo Merkoci (Mjaft, Albanija) said that the biggest value that Istinomjer (which Mjaft founded) brought in Albania is the fact that it encourages the political parties to give realistic and specific promises. He spoke about the way in which they assess the promises, and that very frequently they use media and public data as information source. He underlined the importance of objective monitoring of promises fulfillment, which led to a certain type of cooperation with the public institutions and the political structures in receiving proper information.
Milica Kovačevič (Centar za demokratsku tranziciju, Montenegro) talked about the beginning of their monitoring of the authorities, which focused mainly on the election period in Montenegro, and the bad quality of programs offered by the political parties. She mentioned that one positive outcome for which the Montenegrin Istinomjer can take the credit is the changes of the programs of the political parties which were made more specific and closer to the citizen, following the published analysis from Istinomjer. Milica said that Istinomjer contributed to strengthening of the consciousness for political accountability and the accountability of public speaking, which increased when there is the awareness that somebody is monitoring and documents their statements and activities.
Elena Ignatova (Metamorfozis, Macedonia) underlined what is specific for the Macedonia Vistinomer is that the content is published both in Macedonian and in Albanian language, because the ruling parties consist of parties coming from the Macedonian and the Albanian block, which do not publish their programs in the language of ‘the other’ group, which of course makes it impossible for the members of the other parties to have insight in the programs of all the parties. Due to this reason, Vistinomer decided to publish the analysis on both languages. Another specificity of the Macedonian Vistinomer, is that if you compare it with the rest of the truth-o-meters in the region, the Macedonian parties have best results in regard to the implementation of their programs. Elena said that this is due to the fact that they give very simple and not too ambitious promises.
Abbas Adel (Morsimeter, Egypt) talked about the problems in following the fulfillment of the electoral promises of the current President Mohammed Morsi, due to the diverse attacks and threats. Still, as he mentioned, the constant work with the political parties and the media contributed that Morsimeter overcame the initial distrust, and they managed to establish cooperation, and contributed to development of consciousness that having this monitoring is important. Abbas underlined that the situation in which Morsimeter took place is quite specific and very different than those of the different Istinomjers, since these elections were actually first democratic elections ever, and projects of such kind are of great importance.
The speakers announced future joint activities, where through joint work, they would establish monitoring system of accountability on regional level and a platform through which they will be able to assess and compare the results of the authorities in all countries in the region. In this way, the encouragement of “competition” in government accountability and success in fulfilling the pre-election promises among the authorities from different countries, could potentially contribute to founding additional mechanism that will encourage accountability and founded work of authorities in all these countries.