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Complaint to GONG about Office of President and IPSOS market research

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As a followup to my blog post yesterday, today I submitted a complaint to GONG about the research carried out by the Office of the President and the office's refusal to provide me with the information I requested about the research. The complaint is bellow.



GONG: Complaint regarding the Office of the President and the presidential election

To: gong@gong.hr
cc: glasnogovornica@hdz.hr, milan.kujundzic@hrvatska-zora.hr

Hello to GONG,

I want to submit a complaint regarding an information request that I submitted to the Office of the President, under the Right of Access to Information Act (Official Gazette NN No. 25/13). My questions were not answered and as a result of this I believe that the Office of the President of Croatia may be misusing public funds for the private election campaign of Ivo Josipovic.

My question was in regards to research done by the Office of the President.
http://predsjednik.hr/blog/2014/10/1...olju-hrvatsku/

Please see attached copy of the email conversation.


Ivo Josipovic's office (Office of the President) ran market research. This research, paid for by the Croatian people belongs to the Croatian people and the people should have access to all aspects of the research and report.

On October 26, I made a request to the Office of the President to provide me with;
(1) cost of the research and
(2) all the raw data of the research.

Danja Silovic Karic email: Danja.Silovic.Karic@predsjednik.hr, sent me one response on October 27, one month ago, where she provided me with a link to the data that is publicly available but she did not answer my specific questions. I have sent a number of reminder requests but my requests are being ignored. (Who is Danja Silovic Karic? article 1 - article 2 - article 3)


The issue:

Market research, such as that carried out by IPSOS for the Office of the President, is critical to understanding the mood of the voters and is vital to developing a campaign strategy. Ivo Josipovic is not only the president but also a candidate in the presidential elections.


My requests. Can you please:

1. Investigate the research in question to see if it complies with election funding guidelines. Was there any misuse of public funds for campaign purposes?
2. Provide ALL raw data of the IPSOS research to all campaign candidates.
3. Make public the contract, scope documents and invoice for the IPSOS research.

4. If the data can't be provided to candidates then the presidential election should be postponed by at least one month so that all candidates can have a fair foundation for the election campaign.
5. If there was a misuse of public funds (corruption) for the campaign then I request that Ivo Jospovic be put under criminal investigation and prevented from running as a candidate in the election.


The Croatian government must restore trust and this can be only done via transparency and accountability - which I believe were some of the findings in the IPSOS research.

If Mr Josipovic has used funds from the Office of the President to develop research and campaign strategies using public funds then there is a severe conflict of interest and abuse of public funds for campaign purposes. If this has happened, then Mr Josipovic has an unfair advantage in this election campaign.

Note: I live in Canada but I was born in Croatia.
I am a Croatian citizen and a voter.
This election is of significant importance to me.

I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Zeljko Zidaric
Croatian in Canada

Updated 28th-November-2014 at 07:13 PM by Željko Zidarić

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Comments

  1. Željko Zidarić avatar
    Request a receipt request
    date: Friday November 26, 2014
    to: gong@gong.hr

    Hello GONG,

    Can you please confirm that you have received my complaint, submitted yesterday pertaining to the IPSOS research commissioned by the Office of the President.

    What are your timelines for investigating complaints such as these.

    Since the election is in three weeks, my assumption would be that this is a time-sensitive matter that should be investigated immediately.

    Sincerely,

    Zeljko Zidaric
    Croat in Canada
  2. Željko Zidarić avatar
    Response from GONG

    On Fri, Nov 28, 2014 at 12:15 PM, Natalia Mirković wrote:
    Dear Mr. Zidarić,

    Thank you for informing us.

    Regarding your wish to submit a complaint regarding an information request, it seems that you can send the complaint to the Information Commissioner due to the so-called „administration silence“.

    Namely, the institution responsible for complaints and monitoring of the Access to Information Act implementation by the public bodies is the Information Commissioner: http://www.pristupinfo.hr/en/. On her website you can find her contacts as well as forms for the complaint http://www.pristupinfo.hr/wp-content...rmacijama.docx

    GONG is a non-governmental organization that has no authority in such cases. We are a think-do tank and can help you by giving advice on such matters only. Therefore, we are also offering our website for forms (in Croatian only) regarding access to information complaints: http://gong.hr/hr/dobra-vladavina/pr...informacijama/

    Kind regards,
    Natalia Mirković, GONG
  3. Željko Zidarić avatar
    My response to Natalia at GONG

    Ms Mirkovic,

    Thank you for your response. I was under the impression that GONG's raison d'etre was to ensure electoral transparency as is indicated here:
    http://gong.hr/en/about-gong/what-does-gong-do/

    "Within this program, GONG tends to ameliorate the Croatian electoral system to ensure transparency and political participation."

    [INDENT]Ameliorate:
    • make (something bad or unsatisfactory) better.
    • to make (something, such as a problem) better, less painful,
    • to make or become better, more bearable, or more satisfactory; improve; meliorate.[

    /INDENT]

    My complaint is not primarily about the fact that my question was not answered. My complaint is primarily about whether or not public funds were used by the Office of the President for the election campaign of Ivo Josipovic, the incumbent president.

    The key issue is misuse of public funds.
    Do you work on election issues such as these?

    If this is not the interest of your organization, who is responsible for electoral integrity in Croatia?

    Sincerely,

    Zeljko Zidaric
    Croat in Canada
  4. Željko Zidarić avatar
    .
    Complaint sent to the Information Commissioner of Croatia
    on the recommendation of Natalia at GONG

    IC of RH: Complaint regarding the Office of the President and the presidential election

    to: ppi@pristupinfo.hr

    Hello to the Information Commissioner of the Republic of Croatia,

    I submitted this complaint, related to the ongoing presidential election campaign to GONG, but they told me that this issue is outside their mandate and they told me to contact your office.


    I want to submit a complaint regarding an information request that I submitted to the Office of the President, under the Right of Access to Information Act (Official Gazette NN No. 25/13).

    My questions were not answered.

    My question was in regards to research done by the Office of the President.
    http://predsjednik.hr/blog/2014/10/1...olju-hrvatsku/

    Please see attached copy of the email conversation.

    Ivo Josipovic's office (Office of the President) ran market research. This research, paid for by the Croatian people belongs to the Croatian people and the people should have access to all aspects of the research and report.

    On October 26, I made a request to the Office of the President to provide me with;
    (1) cost of the research and
    (2) all the raw data of the research.

    Danja Silovic Karic email: Danja.Silovic.Karic@predsjednik.hr, sent me one response on October 27, one month ago, where she provided me with a link to the data that is publicly available but she did not answer my specific questions. I have sent a number of reminder requests but my requests are being ignored.


    The issue:

    Market research, such as that carried out by IPSOS for the Office of the President, is critical to understanding the mood of the voters and is vital to developing a campaign strategy. Ivo Josipovic is not only the president but also a candidate in the presidential elections.


    My requests. Can you please:

    1. Investigate why my information request under under the Right of Access to Information Act (Official Gazette NN No. 25/13)
    2. Provide ALL raw data of the IPSOS research to all campaign candidates.
    3. Make public the contract, scope documents and invoice for the IPSOS research.

    4. If the data can't be provided to candidates then the presidential election should be postponed by at least one month so that all candidates can have a fair foundation for the election campaign.

    My questions were not answered and as a result of this I believe that the Office of the President of Croatia may be hiding something, potentially the misuse of public funds for the private election campaign of Ivo Josipovic.

    The Croatian government must restore trust and this can be only done via transparency and accountability - which I believe were some of the findings in the IPSOS research.


    Note: I live in Canada but I was born in Croatia.
    I am a Croatian citizen and a voter.
    This election is of significant importance to me.

    I look forward to your response.

    Sincerely,

    Zeljko Zidaric
    Croatian in Canada