The latest public opinion surveys in Croatia reveal the decline of trust of Croatian citizens in intentions and capabilities of any political option to deal with numerous problems successfully. In parallel, citizens’ support for direct democracy movements has been on the rise, not simply as a correction but rather an alternative to parliamentary democracy. Therefore, the intention of The Index of Good Governance in Croatia 2012 research is to identify good practices, but also omissions of the governmental bodies, with the aim to encourage them to enhance the quality of governance, especially in regard to openness and accountability thus contributing to the decline of distrust between the government and the citizens.
The average scores achieved in this research indicate that the quality of governance in state government bodies is far from satisfactory, with large discrepancies between different dimensions, as well as within individual institutions. This raises a serious concern and indicates a necessity of systematic and focused enhancements.
On average, all bodies achieved 49% in eight researched dimensions, which is also the scope of average results for the Government and the Ministries, whereas Government Offices lag behind considerably, with an average of 41%. Only the Croatian Parliament achieved the result somewhat above average with 56%.
The highest result of 67% was achieved in the Ministry of Administration and the lowest of 18% in the Government Office for Internal Audit. Among the ministries, the lowest ranked is the Ministry of Regional Development and EU Funds, with 40%, while the result of the Government itself is on average 49%, thus, not satisfactory. The highest ranked Government Office is the Office for Cooperation with NGO’s with the score of 64%. The difference of only 3% between the highest ranked Ministry of Administration and the second in line, the Government’s Office for Cooperation with NGO’s indicates that the quality of governance does not depend on the type of the body, but on the commitment to the principles of good governance.
The range of the achieved score between the worst and the best dimension varies between 9% in the Fiscal accountability and transparency dimension and 84% in the Readiness for regulatory impact assessment dimension. Apart from regulatory impact assessment, dimensions relating to openness – Informing the public and ensuring access to information and Parliamentary openness reach a satisfactory level with two thirds of achieved points. These are followed by Public participation in political decision making with a score of 44%, leading to conclusion that the best results were achieved in the area of readiness of institutions to provide information and communicate with the public. Therefore, we can conclude that in the 2012 Index, the principle in focus of the Government was openness – transparency of policies and public participation in the process of their development.
Dimensions that fell far behind the satisfactory level were Managing conflict of interest (score of 26%), Monitoring and reporting on policy implementation (score of 29%) and finally, almost completely lacking Fiscal transparency and accountability (score of 9% points).Those dimensions, in fact, represent the sore points of the Croatian public administration system, rooted in the administrative culture, which has not yet systematically embraced strategic management tools either at the level of fiscal planning or at the level of policy planning and implementation monitoring. The poor results of the Croatian parliament in the Parliamentary oversight dimension can be explained by the same reasons. As for managing conflict of interest, on one hand the results are a reflection of the political culture of a society characterized by clientelism, and on the other hand, a result of the lack of understanding of the term itself, which consequently leads to confusion when it comes to the modalities of efficient control.