NGO Campaign for free and fair elections OK ’98

NGO Campaign for free and fair elections OK ’98

The general elections in 1998 meant new experience for Slovakia. The involvement of nonpartisan subjects in informing and motivating citizens to vote and supervise the correctness of elections represents this new experience. The activities of non-governmental organizations associated in the OK ’98 – a Civic Campaign stirred the calm surface of a civic activism. People were given an opportunity to fully realize their place in social activities. The OK ‘98 Campaign excited social discussion, often controversial reactions from the politicians, in the media and in public.

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The Elections ’98 saw an unexpected, high turnout – 84%, which is a unique turnout both in the Slovak and Central European context. According to the research (Bútora M., Bútorova Z., Mesežnikov G., 1999), OK ‘98 attracted attention of a majority of citizens and, moreover, 70% of respondents were positive about the OK ’98 Campaign. The Campaign was considered as futile or harmful by 11% of respondents. The Campaign influenced 19% of first-time voters to cast their votes and at least 9% out of the total number of voters were encouraged to vote by the NGO Campaign.

The gained experience, helps to move the direct democracy in Slovakia from theory to practice. To achieve that, we need to evaluate and self-reflect the contribution of the third sector to this development. We need to analyze what happened and generalize the experience for our future needs. The analysis can be helpful for everyone who find themselves in a situation similar to the situation of Slovak citizens at the end of 1998. The aim of this paper is to summarize the knowledge obtained by the third sector in OK ‘98.

The study analyses mainly:

  • the structure of the Campaign,
  • questions of management and a conflict management in the Campaign,
  • how non-partisanship was reached,
  • and the Campaign communication with the media.

All topics we focused our attention on, were selected based on the experience of the Campaign participants, and are aimed to generalize and provide as much experience from the Campaign as possible for the future.

We would like to offer this paper as encouragement mostly to participants and leaders  from the third sector in those countries, which still expect their campaign of OK ‘98 kind. It would be great, if they somehow manage to avoid the same mistakes we made and if they manage, under their circumstances, to apply the effectivity factors of the campaign at least to the extent Slovakia did. We would be very pleased by their success.

The specific orientation of the paper is also determined by the effort to enrich a mosaic of already published views on the OK ‘98 Campaign, by presenting a rather unusual perspective; from the management point of view on the Campaign, and from the perspective of those who welcome the opportunity to be inspired and enriched by the gained experience.

There is no point in repeating what has been already written. In some passages we only refer to what has already been published. The issue of OK ‘98 was elaborated upon in many evaluation papers and publications, some are just being prepared. However, this paper might not be the last one. It presents a retrospective view on the Campaign trying to grasp it from many different angles. It has no aspiration of being exclusive, but its authors have tried to present the most objective view possible, which would equally present the views and experience of the interviewed, written documents and media products reporting variously about the Campaign.

How to quote us

Berecká, Oľga - Kušnieriková, Natália - Ondrušek, Dušan. 1999. NGO Campaign for free and fair elections OK ’98. Bratislava: PDCS, 1999. 57 p.

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