On-Site Technical Assistance Program in Slovakia Final Report, December 1999
From May 1998 to September 1999, the International Foundation for Elections Systems (IFES) conducted an On-Site Technical Assistance Program (OSTA) in the Slovak Republic to address needs related to the conduct of democratic parliamentary and municipal elections in 1998 and long-term election-related needs identified by the Ministry of Interior of the Slovak Republic, the National Council of the Slovak Republic, the United States Agency for International Development Mission to Slovakia and IFES. These needs included the following: improved overall election administration; better trained pollworkers; increased citizens' knowledge of and confidence in the electoral system; greater transparency of the electoral system; and increased citizen participation in political decision making. This report discusses the activities undertaken to achieve these goals and their impact, problems encountered and lessons learned, and recommendations for future progress toward a solidified democracy.
IFES set out to work closely with the Elections Department of the Ministry of Interior (Mon, the Central Election Commission (CEC), and various Slovak nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Due to the difficult political circumstances surrounding the 1998 parliamentary elections IFES was not allowed to work as closely with the Mol Elections Department as originally anticipated. However, the department did utilize IFES as an impartial, non-partisan resource in the production of its own materials. IFES also forged strong partnerships with local NGOs to achieve the mutual goals of increasing citizens' knowledge of the electoral system and their participation in political decision making. IFES and its partners established an election information resource center and Web Site, created and produced radio public services announcements, designed and produced informational materials and seminars, conducted candidate forums and produced impartial analyses and reviews of Slovak election laws.
Great progress was achieved in establishing democratic institutions in Slovakia by its citizens and their international partners over the past two years. IFES congratulates Slovakia on its success and encourages it to solidify this progress in order to ensure continued democratic success. The current government has set electoral reform as one of its priorities. IFES recommends that the government proceed forward, working closely with the NGO community, to create a body of election law in keeping with the Slovak Constitution and international, democratic standards, establish an independent election management body and standardize the voter registration process. These improvements will serve to improve transparency and the public's confidence in the system thereby encouraging citizens' participation in the political decision making process and improving the effectiveness, responsiveness and accountability of local government.