Clientelist abuse of public power and public fund grab can happen within local governments as easily as on the national level, and in state-owned enterprises. Corruption thrives where citizens are not concerned.
The Municipality project was conceived as an educative programme to teach not only the young that participation in local politics is not only the right but in a way also duty of every citizen, and that this is what many of them actually do without even realizing it. The goal is to alert people to discussion, attending local government meetings and defending their vested interests—in other words, to help them beat lethargy and resignation. This could help gradually to rehabilitate the reputation of and interest in the national politics through increased public participation in it and ultimately also lead to the occupation of public space by political rather than purely opportunist forces.
Workshop of 3rd Municipalita student competition
On 2-4 November 2015, Brno played host to a workshop of the Municipalita student education project, and the Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK) was around! Anyway, the NFPK has supported the students’ project from its founding day. The hands-on workshop introduced the contest finalists to the methods of investigating serious corruption cases, the use of certain public instruments, and the mission and work done by the NFPK. The workshop turned into an endless discussion. The competition was organized by the Mladí občané association.
The high-school students wishing to take part in the competition were required to write an essay on one of the following subjects:
- “Picture yourself as a member of local government. How would you persuade people to take a more active part in community life and win them over to active participation in civic affairs?”
- “Picture yourself as a member of local government, whose task is to bring life into public space. How will you go about your mission?”
The authors of the best essays were invited to the workshop and debates with experts on various walks of public life. They took part in as townhall meeting in the fictitious town of Chmelov in the Brno City Hall. Young though they were, the students used the NFPK-anchored workshop for a lively discussion on the ways to use the Company Register, the Freedom of Information Act, and ways to curb corruption and investigate suspect cases.
The Municipalita project has taken miscellaneous attractive forms and a promotional video is available below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrKv4zmC6ok
Winners announced of this year’s finals of Municipalita Project
Twenty runners-up from all over the Czech Republic took part on 2-4 February in a training seminar and simulated proceedings of the Prague City Hall, held under the auspices of Ing. Mgr. Irena Ropková, Prague City Councillor on welfare and educational affairs. The quality of the final round of the competition was duly appreciated by the attendants as well as the project partners, who delivered lectures during the instruction seminar.
Presentations and speeches highlighted support for whistleblowing, the position of Czech municipalities in Europe, the Healthy Cities programme, and many other areas of endeavour. The action-packed agenda included a simulation of proceedings of the imaginary Chmelov Town Hall, whose participants were encouraged to demonstrate their advanced negotiating and persuasion skills. All finalists proved their significant qualities, but only the best six runners up received prestigious awards. They were rewarded by internships in the Parliament of the Czech Republic, while the best three finalists can look forward to a fact-finding mission to the European Parliament. The winners are: Pavel Linzer, Markéta Malá, Václav Malina, Jakub Huňka, Karolína Weissová and Lukáš Winkler.
January 15, 2014 saw the start of a second part of the project, Municipality II, aiming to encourage high school students to take part in public affairs especially at the level of local government. It takes the form of competition the first assignment in which is to formulate a strategic plan of municipal development. The best three entries will be awarded with prizes, cooperation proposals and a chance to present a selected strategic plan to a selected municipality with expert support. The Anticorruption Endowment is a partner to this project, similarly to Municipality I, a successful project from last year.
The competition is open to three-member teams, whose initial setup should not be underestimated. It will be essential for each team to act in concert and equitably divide tasks between them. In formulating their strategic plan, students shall employ three main working methods, namely: guided interviews, analysis of open sources, and select investigative proceedings. All details including methodology are available on the Municipality project website: http://municipalita.cz/instrukce.html. Project particulars have been communicated to high school principals, but we will appreciate if you “spread the gospel”, so to say. Remember that the closing date for applications is 15 March 2014!
The first round of the project, held in various high schools, chiefly entailed the formulation of test questions and writing an essay on an assigned topic. Twenty-one authors of best entries were invited to the second round, a seminar held on 21 and 22 November in Prague. This round comprised of teambuilding activities, and workshops devoted to individual topics: in general, local administration and its study, corruption, and local development with the use of subsidies. A simulated meeting of local government officials tackled specific issues. The best participants were rewarded with traditionally valuable gifts and an invitation for internship in the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic. All second-round participants were offered internship with the Czech Republic Regional Development Centre.
The winners were:: Dominik Macek (Gymnázium Havířov-Podlesí), Zdenka Šunková (Gymnázium Moravská Třebová), Denisa Linhartová (Gymnázium Budějovická – Prague 4), Tatiana Podstolnaya (Gymnázium Budějovická – Praha 4), Iryna Deket (Gymnázium Jateční – Ústí nad Labem), and Aleš Kubíček (Gymnázium Lovosice).
Please find attached a photo from the final round of Municipality I, which persuaded the organizers and competitors abut the need to carry on with the project that yields tangible results.