European Parliament Elections Transparency under Attack

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ZAGREB, February 7, 2019 – People are increasingly losing their trust in political processes and it is necessary to ensure that the internet and social media become more transparent so that people can make political decisions on their own, the GONG election monitoring NGO said in Zagreb on Thursday at a conference on possible threats to democracy during this year’s European Parliament elections.

“We hope that before campaigning for the European Parliament elections officially starts, we can warn of and prevent the risks of new technologies and previous negative experience in Croatia being repeated,” GONG director Jelena Berković said.

“We have to keep in mind that we are living in a country where campaigning on social networks during the second to last parliamentary election is now included in an indictment for money laundering which in fact was committed by a digital team who ran that election campaign,” Berković said.

On the occasion of Global Elections Day, and ahead of May’s election for the European Parliament, GONG organised a conference about online threats to democracy, with experts discussing cyber security and personal data protection as well as hate speech and preventing fake news in political campaigns.

The conference was organised with the support of the British Embassy, and Ambassador Andrew Dalgleish said it was necessary to arouse interest and inform people in an effort to motivate them to participate in political processes.

Many democratic countries have that problem – disillusionment and distance from political processes. They consider that to be someone else’s problem. The media are one of the ways to once again include people in political processes, Dalgleish said in his welcome speech.

Elizabeth Carolan, the founder of the Transparent Referendum Initiative in Ireland – a civic initiative that was established to advocate for increased transparency of digital advertising during electoral campaigns in Ireland, presented the results of a survey on social networks which identified a large number of advertisements targeted at directly influencing voters’ decisions.

The head of the European Parliament Liaison Office in Zagreb, Violeta Simeonova Staničić, spoke about the campaign slogan “This Time I’m Voting” as a positive example of informing citizens of key events and policies related to the EU and European Parliament.

More news on the European Parliament elections in Croatia can be found in the Politics section.


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