How was GONG formed?
GONG's birthday is April 13th because the first local elections GONG tried to monitor, despite having been strictly prohibited by the Electoral Commission, took place that very day in 1997. During the 90's, independent and non-partisan monitoring of the electoral process wasn't an option, but thanks to the incentive of the Coordination of 13 organizations for the protection and promotion of human rights an initiative of NGO's and citizens „Građani Organizirano Nadgledaju Glasanje“ – GONG (Citizens Supervising Voting in an organized manner) was formed. After its campaign and the Constitutional Court's decision to permit non-partisan election monitoring, in 1999, the „orange amendment“ was passed, giving the right to monitor the elections to indigenous, non-partisan organizations.
While allowing citizens to take part in the electoral process as non-partisans, their role has yielded an increase of credibility and integrity in the political system. More than 21,000 GONGs observers have monitored a total of 15 elections as well as one national referendum, numerous local elections and the electoral process in other countries in transition. While educating tens of thousands of high-school seniors on electoral law, how to advocate and exercise their rights, GONG has also contributed to the professionalization of the State Election Commission, exposed the 2005 voters' list manipulations, and has repeatedly shed light on the flaws in the legal framework and the oversight of the financing of parties and campaigns.
Among GONG's numerous achievements, we are proud to highlight:
- Citizens have a right to know - Freedom of Information has become a constitutional category in 2010, thanks to GONG's research of the enforcement of the Act on Freedom of Information and the timely warnings of its deficiency
- Disclosure of Government closed sessions agendas – though GONG has been tackling this issue since 2007, with the governments giving away millions in closed sessions without further explanation, their disclosure has begun on March 15 2012
- Gazette to the people – publication of the content of the Official Gazette that had, in 2001, tried to be charged
- The 22% less diligent in 2004 initiative – the Ministry of Finance has not yet revoked overseas donation VAT payment, while the Church is relieved of the above mentioned. Ensuing the public reaction, minister Šuker „bribed“ GONG, Friends of the Earth Croatia, B.a.B.e as well as the Croatian Helsinki Committee for human rights, which the listed declined arguing the Golden Rule.
- LOTUS research – the first systematic transparency research conducted on Regional Self-government units in Croatia, in all cities and communities, in order to analyze and resolve their transparency issues, enhance the cooperation with civil society organizations and local self-government. Thanks to GONG's LOTUS project, the Ministry of Justice has, of fall 2012, launched its own version.
- Platform 112 and „Shadow monitoring“ – an initiative of about 60 CSO that have, for the past few years, focused on the protection of human rights, democratization, peace building, fighting corruption and public resource protection. 112 demands suggested priorities and specific measures in paving the way to a Croatia where the rule of law would be fundamental to activities of individuals, institutions and politicians. Platform 112 performed „shadow monitoring“, thus fulfilling its obligations from Chapter 23 as well as drafting reports used by the EU to establish the Croatian Progress Report.
- Open Parliament – upon GONG's initiative, the Parliament instituted an open-door policy for citizens, while adding external members to most of its committees so as to ease the cooperation with CSO and other experts. Also new is the 2001. Internship program in both Parliament, and the government, where law and political science studies students can gain necessary skills working with their representatives, something that, today, the Parliament is independently conducting.