Citizens in Montenegro are not satisfied with the public administration performance, but they are not active enough to influence the public policies’ improvement that directly affect their rights, according to public opinion poll conducted for the Politikon Network and Open dialogue network
Respondents believe that the Government, the parliament, the judiciary and local self-governments are not free from political influence while 69.8% of respondents believe that the law is not equally applied to all. In their opinion, the biggest problem in the work of state administration and local self-government is clientelism – employment “through the connections”, 33.8% opted for this answer for the state and 39.1% for the local level. Corruption, outdated procedures, and lack of capacity are problems that citizens also cite. Citizens most often turn to public administration for the personal documents’ issuance. When it comes to initiatives and public debates, the percentage of citizens/respondents who actively participate in them is at a worryingly low level. During the last year, only 9.1% of them participated in the initiative to solve a problem in their municipality, while 4.7% were active during the public debate related to some municipal regulations. 20.3% of respondents are informed about the mechanisms enabling citizens to participate in the decision-making, while they usually refer to public debates and petitions as mechanisms they know about. One-fifth of respondents claim to be fully aware of the available mechanisms to report corruption, one-third have heard of certain mechanisms but are not aware of how they are applied, while two-fifths claim to have almost no information in this area.
As many as 88.1% of respondents have never requested data based on a request for free access to information. When it comes to the causes of inactivity, citizens most often state insufficient information about the mechanisms of participation – this option was chosen by almost a quarter of respondents. Other reasons include distrust and the awareness that their opinion would not be taken into account. The largest number of respondents, 28.4%, believe that campaigns and increased involvement of the public administration are the key to increasing civic participation. Almost a quarter believe that the emphasis should be on the citizens’ activity, and that increasing the number of their initiatives is a way to ensure their greater participation.
The public opinion survey was conducted during February and March 2020 within the project “Participatory, Informative, Open Public Administration – #PIO” conducted by the Politikon Network in partnership with the Open Dialogue Network (MOD) with the support of the Ministry of Public Administration. The research was conducted in cooperation with New Page and the agency DeFacto Consultancy.