"Civil campaign OK'98"

"Civil campaign OK'98"

The campaign for participation in the 1998 elections in Slovakia

The "Civil Campaign OK'98", was an open, non-partisan initiative designed to help ensure free and fair elections in Slovakia. Headed by an eleven-member coordination council, the initiative's mission was to:

  • improve voter awareness and information about parliamentary and municipal elections in 1998
  • increase voter turnout
  • strengthen the influence of citizens over the preparation of election laws
  • ensure citizens' supervision over the fairness of elections

This paper documents the rise of civil society in Slovakia, culminating in the organisation of the campaign. The author notes the names and activities of some of the civil society organisations that took a prominant role in the campaign. Contributory features of the campaign are described, which account for its success. For example, discussion forums were introduced at which citizens discussed various issues with candidates running for the posts of mayors and deputies of self-governments.

The conclusions of the paper highlight CSOs as contributing to greater participation of citizens in the elections and to higher returns in favour of democratic political forces. Positive features of the campaign and its impacts impacts are summarised as:

  • the ability of self-determination as the course of the elections was a result of civil mobilization which arose as a reaction to fear of manipulating the polls
  • the eventual success of civil mobilization was to a great extent possible thanks to successful alliances
  • public opinion characterised as having a "greater" insight than before, resulting in public pressure that had both direct and indirect impact on politics
  • CSOs' capacity to determine the topics of public debate
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