Bitola recently played host to an engaging set of panel discussions organised by IFES as part of the Support to Electoral Reforms project, supported by the Swiss Government. Participants in the event comprised Communty Mobilisers, representatives of grantee CSOs as well as local self-governments from across the Pelagonia Region, as well as media representatives.
The first panel discussion revolved around experiences from the monitoring process, exploring the challenges and triumphs faced by civil society organizations and local governments. In it, Youth Official for Prilep Goce Bumbaroski and Marija Tashkoska of the Youth Council (Mladinski sovet) Prilep CSO discussed their collaboration as related to opening a Youth Center in the municipality. Since the conclusion of the CSO’s innovative initiative, a Youth Council has been established and steps have been made towards identifying the ideal space for youth in Prilep. Further, Zlatko Talevski of the Youth Cultural Centre (MKC) Bitola and Zlate Boshevski, advisor on local economic development, shared their positive experiences as regards the implementation of key infrastructure/sustainable street lighting for citizen’s safety.
The second discussion pivoted towards the lessons learned and potential avenues to enhance the effectiveness of monitoring electoral promises both at the national and local level, opening with Community Mobiliser Masar Zhaku’s reflections on activities related to the central government’s open electoral lists promise. Journalist Stevo Bashurovski shared his attitudes on the importance of television as an information source for local communities, as well as the efforts to inform truthfully, meaningfully and impartially. Further, Viktor Iliev of YMCA (IMKA) Bitola and Maja Petancheska of LET Station (Stanica PET) Prilep discussed their CSOs’ persistence in mobilising their communities on the promises for cycling lanes and kindergarten accommodation facilities.
At the event’s close, Elena Ognenovska of TIM Institute shed light on the research on Civic and Voter Education, revealing key findings that could guide future initiatives.
The workshop served as a platform for stakeholders from diverse backgrounds to come together, share experiences, and work collaboratively towards enhancing electoral transparency and accountability.