How was GONG formed?
GONG’s birthday is April 13th, 1997, when GONG first monitored local elections despite being strictly prohibited from doing so by the Electoral Commission. During the 90s, independent and non-partisan monitoring of the electoral process wasn't an option, but 13 organizations had the incentive to start an initiative for the protection and promotion of human rights for NGOs and citizens. Its name became “Građani Organizirano Nadgledaju Glasanje,” (translation: Citizens Supervising Voting in an organized manner) which became the name for GONG.
In addition to allowing citizens to take part in the electoral process as non-partisans, GONG’s role has increased the credibility and integrity in the political system. More than 21,000 GONG observers have monitored a total of 15 elections, one national referendum, and numerous local elections and electoral processes in other transition countries. Besides educating tens of thousands of high school seniors on electoral laws and how to 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 oversight of party and campaign financing.
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 - with governments giving away millions in closed sessions without public explanation, GONG began tackling this issue starting in 2007. Thanks to GONG, disclosure of government closed sessions began on March 15h, 2012.
- Gazette to the people – publication of the content of the Official Gazette that had, in 2001, tried to be charged
- The Worth 22% less initiative in 2004 – the Ministry of Finance had not yet revoked overseas donation VAT payment, except for the Church. After a public reaction, then-Finance Minister Šuker had attempted to “bribe” GONG, Friends of the Earth Croatia, B.a.B.e, and the Croatian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, all of which 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.