MOST is Macedonia’s leading authority on the conduct of free and fair elections.
Through the recruitment, training and deployment of 30,000 citizens, it has monitored eightnationalelections, four local elections and threereferenda.
MOST is been a member the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) and serves as Secretariat. Nearly two-hundred MOST domestic observes have participated in more than twenty international observation missions organized by ENEMO and OSCE/ODIHR respectively.
Having helped to foster greater dialogue between decision makers, citizens and civil society, MOST turned its attention in 2009 to building the lobbying and advocacy capacity of CSOs. Today, MOST’s Advocacy Center and Advocacy Manual serve as a learning and capacity development resource for CSOs throughout the country.
MOST has seized numerous opportunities to advocate for political reform. In 2004, following national elections, MOST issued a set of recommendations for reform of the electoral code. The result was adoption in 2006 of a consolidated electoral code encompassing parliamentary, presidential and local elections as well as referenda. Since 2008, MOST has played an active role in a number of government-sponsored working groups formed to improve the election system. It serves along with experts, policy makers and representatives of the OSCE and is the only Macedonian civil society representative.
In 2010, MOST began work on formulating recommendations for adoption of an “open list” system by bringing together different stakeholders to exchange views and by conducting comparative research. The work is ongoing.
As a tool for keeping members of parliament accountable to citizens, MOST evaluated each MP and published a “MP Performance Card” in national newspapers. The cards rated MPs according to attendance, legislative actions and visits and meetings in constituent offices. With most MPs receiving a poor rating, the citizens responded in shock calling on MPs to be more responsive. MOST’s innovation is now an annual, permanent and official practice of parliament.
MOST played a leadership role in improving institutional mechanisms for citizen participation. Through meetings and public discussions, it brought CSOs and officials to deliberate and exchange views. Important actions were taken which have made it easier for CSOs to participate in public and oversight hearings and gain MPs greater access to CSO expertise.
At the local level, MOST created “ART of Local Self Government”, to engage local CSOs in monitoring the performance of local government officials and procurement activities. Twelve reports on work of councils were issued. This was followed by a series of forums in which local officials and citizens together developed a “White List of Priorities”. In total sixty-five priorities were identified of which twenty were addressed through budget allocations in six municipalities.
Initially lacking parliamentary constituent offices, citizens and members of parliament had little opportunity to engage directly. Through its “Mobile Parliament” program, established in 2003, MOST successfully brought three-thousand citizens together with more than two-hundred members of parliament and forty-eight representatives of local government in ninety-three public forums held in local communities across the country. This innovation and the value of regular citizen engagement it demonstrated, led parliament to establish permanent constituent offices in 2007.
In 2004 MOST took the intiative to improve contact between civil society organizations and parliament, by entering into an official agreement to establish and run a NGO Contact Office in Parliament. From 2004 to 2010, more than three hundred meetings were organized at the request of one-hundred and seventy-three CSOs, eighty-two citizens, sixteen members of parliament and nine departments of parliament. As a result of the office’s work, six resolutions and amendments were introduced and deliberated and numerous public hearings and forums were organized on a range of topics including “Participation of the citizens and civil organizations in the policy and decision making processes” “Parliament lobbying and policy creating on the HIV/ AIDS” and “Law on Association and Foundations”.
In 9 years’ time MOST has mobilized more than 90,000 citizens to take part in a wide range of activities aimed at increasing transparency, accountability and responsiveness of government.
Its www.pravo.org.mk web portal provides citizens easy access to information on Macedonian laws and regulations and has 48,396 registered users and an average of 2,189 visitors and 7,430 downloads per day. The portal, which was launched with international donor support, is today self-sustaining.
MOST’s program to educate first time voters launched in 2004 reached twenty-three thousand new graduates of high schools throughout Macedonia through the organization of nearly nine hundred workshops. The program’s success provided incentive to the Ministry of Education to incorporate voter education into the national curriculum. In addition to workshops, MOST published a “First Time Voters’ Guide” and “Election Dictionary”.