Diana Javorčíková, Matúš Vallo and Ondrej Lunter are candidates who have scored the best results in the transparency test of campaigns related to the upcoming local and regional elections.
Transparency International Slovakia (TIS) has worked out a transparency evaluation of campaigns running in regional capitals and self-governing regions in preparation for the elections that are to be held in autumn. Our survey has shown poor performance of competing politicians when it comes to their level of transparency. Only 11 out of 98 evaluated candidates have been rated as having a “Transparent campaign”. As many as one third of campaigns are non-transparent and one half of them show reservations. These unfavourable results arise in spite of the quite positive fact that this is already the second time in Slovakia when it is compulsory for candidates in the municipal and regional elections to have a transparent account – this is in fact not the case in many countries (e.g. in Czechia, our nearest neighbour).
Our evaluation has focused on the quality of financial reporting of campaigns via their compulsory transparent accounts, the method of their financing, their compliance with the basic legal requirements, as well as whether minimal information for voters about the candidate in question and his/her campaign is ensured. To ease the presentation of results, we have used a simple “traffic light” system to divide the local and regional politicians under evaluation into three groups: green for transparent campaigns; orange for campaigns with reservations and red for non-transparent campaigns.
The independent candidate for the mayor of Banská Bystrica Diana Javorčíková is currently leading the whole ranking. She is the only candidate who has managed to get the highest possible score, as she has succeeded in all three assessed areas and 16 specific indicators. Her account presents in detail and in full her campaign’s expenditures amounting to €30,000, with records dating back to October 2021. The campaign is financed by means of fund-raising where 105 single donors have contributed an average amount of €100. Upon our request, the candidate has provided us with information on her financial plan and her electoral website also includes members of her campaign team.
A similar level of quality can be seen in campaigns of the mayor of Bratislava Matúš Vallo (89.3%) and the vice-president of Banská Bystrica self-governing region Ondrej Luntner (83.3%). The green label of a transparent campaign have also been granted to the mayor of Trnava Peter Bročka (81.6%), the candidate for the president of Nitra region Branislav Becík (75.4%), the candidate for the mayor of Prešov Zuzana Bednárová (75%), the president of Bratislava region Juraj Droba (74.1%), the mayor of Nitra Marek Hattas (74.1%), the mayor of Žilina Peter Fiabáne (70.8%), the candidate for the mayor of Nitra Igor Kršiak (70.8%) and the president of Trenčín region Jaroslav Baška (70%).
As for the most significant self-governing regions, the opposite end of the ranking includes the president of Prešov region Milan Majerský (25.9%), the president of Nitra region Milan Belica (38.6%) and the president of Žilina region Erika Jurinová (39.3%), whose campaigns have been evaluated as the least transparent. The campaigns of Majerský and Jurinová are not visible because they have no transparent account of their own and their expenditures are not marked out on the accounts of their parent parties. In addition, both Majerský’s party KDH (Christian Democratic Movement) and Jurinová’s party OĽaNO (Ordinary People and Independent Personalities) have clouded the campaigns by aggregate payments to media agencies. On his account, Belica conceals what he has ordered and whom he has paid for his orders.
The summary of the transparent accounts shows that candidates have so far spent at least 6.5 million euros on their electoral campaigns, which is, by way of illustration, one third of total expenditures of political parties in the 2020 parliamentary elections. The evaluation has covered a total of 98 candidates competing for the leading positions in 16 largest self-governing regions (the selection criterion was having expenses amounting to at least €3,000 on their accounts) and out of these 98 candidates as many as 23 have failed to comply with the basic legal requirement and have not notified the Ministry of Interior of their transparent account.
More than one third of candidates we have graded do not properly mark out who the recipients of payments related to their campaign are. The same number of campaigners have at least partly shifted their campaigns to the non-transparent environment of media agencies and more than a third have failed to label their expenses with necessary descriptions of the purpose of the payments. Almost one fifth of the campaigns is paid by means of large donations, which might raise questions about their funding. We have also tested the candidates by addressing them with a simple question on how their campaign is financed. A half of them have replied, a third of them were willing to provide requested information.
We will continue monitoring the campaigns in the remaining time and will point out to improvements and deteriorations in individual cases, if any. The results of campaign transparency evaluation form a part of outputs from the monitoring carried out by TIS before the joint elections.
The project ‘Aktívnym občianstvom ku kvalitnejšej samospráve (With Active Citizenship for a Better Self-government)’ is supported from the ACF – Slovakia programme, which is funded from the EEA Financial Mechanism 2014-2021. The programme is managed by Ekopolis Foundation in partnership with Open Society Foundation Bratislava and Carpathian Foundation.