PASOS poll: Citizens of six Balkan countries identify political parties as least trusted institutions

February 14, 2014

Click the map to view an interactive presentation on trust in institutions in the Western Balkans

News Source: PASOS Secretariat, Czech Republic

Citizens of six Balkan countries say that political parties are the least trusted institutions in their respective countries, according to the results of surveys conducted for a PASOS project.

The polling was conducted in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia by six members of the PASOS network of think tanks working on “Advocacy for Open Government: Civil society agenda-setting and monitoring of country action plan,” an EU-funded project to encourage governments in those countries to become more transparent.

“In addition to an evident lack of transparency and accountability of political parties, citizens do not think that a political party may work for the benefit of all, but only for the benefit of its sympathizers and members,” said Marija Vuksanovic, an analyst with the Center for Democracy and Human Rights, a think-tank that conducted polls for the project in Montenegro. “This is why people seek other ways to assemble, and why the number of political abstainers and street protesters is rising.”

While the poll respondents were in agreement about their mistrust of political parties, their answers differed widely when asked to identify the institution they trust most.

In Serbia, and Macedonia, for example, the armed forces were named the most trustworthy, while in Bosnia and Herzegovina, television is the most respected institution. Kosovars said they most trust the media, Albanians named NATO, and Montenegrins identified the education system as the most trustworthy.

“Identifying the most and least trustworthy institutions in a given country is of key importance to those working to reform such institutions,” said Jeff Lovitt, executive director of PASOS. “It provides positive examples, while at the same time helping to prioritize what institutions are in most need of reform.”

Here is how people in the six countries ranked the trustworthiness of institutions, by country:

 

When people in the six countries were asked what they considered the institution that had the greatest ability to influence government policy, they provided another distinct list, as follows:

Albania: Members of Parliament

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Leaders of political parties in power

Kosovo: International organizations

Macedonia: Multinational corporations

Montenegro: Parliamentary committees

Serbia: Parliamentary committees

The polling also addressed official accountability and public participation in the political process. Poll participants were asked whether they agreed with a series of statements, as follows:

 

 The six PASOS members who conducted the polling are: Institute for Democracy and Mediation (Albania), Analitika Center for Social Research (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Riinvest Institute for Development Research (Kosovo), Center for Research and Policy Making (Macedonia), Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Montenegro), The Monitoring Center CEMI (Montenegro), and Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (Serbia).

The project participants are monitoring the impact of governmental actions being undertaken as part of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) Initiative. The project also draws on experience from new EU members, critiques commitments, and is creating advocacy plans for open government.

OGP is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. To become a member of the OGP, participating countries must embrace a high level Open Government Declaration; deliver a country Action Plan developed with public consultation; and commit to independent reporting on their progress.

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