IRI Supports Parties in North Macedonia to Embrace Financial Transparency

  • Ilina Mangova

The International Republican Institute (IRI) has supported increased transparency in North Macedonia since 2018, when it developed the Open Finance portal for the Ministry of Finance, which released state treasury data, making all spending of state and local institutions public. A couple of years later, following legislative changes which increased transparency requirements by political parties, IRI stepped in to assist parties with compliance and making their finances public. In its public opinion research conducted in December 2021, IRI found that only 21% of citizens believe that parties are transparent about how they spend their money. 

Through an extensive program with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), IRI and the Agency for Protection of Free Access to Public Information (ASPI) trained parties on compliance, processing requests for public information, and increasing active transparency. IRI also helped parties draft standard operating procedures (SOPs) for handling requests for public information and coached the parties on how to process them. These efforts significantly increased parties’ knowledge and awareness about their legal obligations. Out of 23 parties that took part in IRI’s training, 13 implemented updates to their websites with required financial data and points of contact for public information. 

IRI Training for parties on access to public information and active transparency.

Further, IRI provided targeted assistance to four of the biggest players on the political scene – the governing Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), and opposition VMRO-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and Alliance for Albanian (AfA) – which jointly won a combined 91% of the vote in the last elections and receive the largest cut of the state budget. Through one-on-one coaching and technical assistance, IRI helped these parties transform their websites. 

When IRI started this programming, only SDSM was releasing some of the obligatory information on its website, and even that did not satisfy the minimal standards for open data format. The largest opposition party, VMRO-DPMNE, had a limited amount of public information on their website, which was hard to find. The situation was similar for the government coalition partner, DUI, with most required information missing. No financial information was visible, searchable, or findable. Finally, the website of the smaller opposition party AfA was temporarily disabled. 

IRI’s program team, Marija Sazdevski and Ana Velkovska, engaged in one-on-one work with a team of party financial, public information, and IT officers. The focus was to revamp the websites of the parties to include detailed and extensive public information sections. Each of the parties populated tabs with all relevant information including List of Public Information, Forms for Requesting Public Information, Financial Reports, Annual Reports, Financial Reports on Election Spendings, Party Documents, Public Information Officer, and Electoral Platforms. Ethnic Albanian party AfA used this opportunity to launch an entirely new website and, for the first time, provide a Macedonian version of it.  

The changes in the websites have opened a new chapter in active party and financial transparency in North Macedonia. Moreover, three of the parties published their financial information in an open data format, enabling the public to do in-depth analysis of the parties’ financial operations. The updates on their websites provide citizens with first-hand access to both general and financial party information that they did not have before IRI’s assistance. 

The upgraded financial transparency sections of websites of North Macedonia four largest parties SDSM, VMRO-DPMNE, DUI and AfA supported by IRI disclosing budget income, election spending, registers of donations, etc.
Up ArrowTop