Mam Prawo Wiedzieć

Quick Look

Mam Prawo Wiedzieć helps Polish citizens access information about their elected representatives in an easy, user-friendly way.

Beginning Date: 
January 1, 2008
Project Scale: 
Types of Tools: 


Mam Prawo Wiedzieć is a website created to help Polish citizens access information about their elected representatives in an easy, user-friendly way. The project collects information from candidates’ campaign websites, flyers, politicians’ blogs, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and various other online and traditional media sources.

The site then pairs profiles of each candidate or MP with their voting record, where applicable, so that citizens can learn more about their politicians while also tracking their behavior.

Before Poland’s 2007 parliamentary elections and the 2009 European Union elections, Mam Prawo Wiedzieć distributed a “Questionnaire of Experience and Opinions” to all candidates. The answers were then made available online so voters could match their political beliefs to those of the candidates.


Tell me a little about your project.: 

My name is Anna Czyżewska and I work for Stowarzyszenie 61, which manages the platform This website was created to give Poles user-friendly access to information about their representatives. The name of the association, 61, refers to the 61st article of our Constitution, stating that each citizen has the right to access information about the activities of public services as well as people working for those services. Polish citizens have access to the website of our parliament and government, but those websites are not always intuitive or easy to use. So we decided to do something different. We post biographies of our parliament members, information about their voting sessions, information about work of the Seym Committee (Committee of the Chamber of Deputies), information about our members in the EU parliament. Since 2007, we have also posted information about candidates to elections. We post information provided by the candidates themselves in response to our requests.

The association was established in 2005 as a result of discussions about the state of access to public information and to the work of Seym. More than 10 people from various Warsaw-based NGOs decided to establish an association aiming to work on the Mam Prawo Wiedzieć website.

What's your vision for the project?: 

In the long run, we want to focus the attention of Polish citizens on two apexes. First, thinking about whom they are voting for, why, and what motivates them to make those choices. We would like to make them think about their reasons for choosing particular candidates. We want them to stop voting for a party, group or specific person in relation to another one, and start to think wisely whom they are voting for. Currently we are preparing for local elections, and we want people to start making choices based not on their favorite party, but on candidates who see their local village or town through the same eyes as their supporters. We want the voters to make a conscious choice.

Second, we would like to raise the interest of supporters in the actual work of their representatives. Not only on famous, more visible issues widely discussed in Poland nowadays, like in vitro fertilization or abortion, but on things they do on a daily basis: what is their work, what do they do, what do they plan to do and what is the input supporters can have on their representatives. We would like to change the image of the authorities’ top-to-down approach to choosing people whom we, voters, give the privilege to represent us.

So we are talking about two aspects here: being interested in who is going to represent us, and being actively interested in what the representatives are actually doing and who they are.

How does your work currently turn into offline change? : 

We are fully aware of the fact that not everyone will go to our website, that we will not reach everyone and that we will not convince everyone. But this summer we took to Slot Art Festival, in Lubiąż, to promote the idea of aware citizenship and our service too. Once we started to talk to people we heard them saying: “Yes, we heard of you, we know you, we have seen your website.” This was a terribly nice feeling. I felt that what we do is already bringing effects, is already making a difference. At the same time we talked to people who were saying they do not go to vote because Polish political life is too political, that politicians do not represent us. That was the point when we thought, “You know, what we do is exactly what you need!” And by showing them the website we could convince them to a certain extent too.

What are the biggest obstacles to your success?: 

For past elections, we have prepared a so-called Questionnaire of Experience and Opinions and encouraged candidates to fill it out. It consisted of 100 questions related to their experience and opinions, so we had the opportunity to compare those candidates. This year we were supposed to prepare a similar project for presidential elections. Sadly, due to the Smolensk Plane Crash and the fast-tracked presidential elections, we had to change our approach. Preparation of the questionnaire takes a lot of time. The [crash on the] 10th of April surprised everyone; the elections took place two months later. We need two months just to prepare the questionnaire itself. Then it has to be delivered to all candidates, filled out and placed on the site, so we had no time for that. So this year we needed to change the approach. We prepared more than 10 issues related to the president’s work and started analyzing all publicly available information given by all 10 candidates to place them on our site.

What is your civic role?: 

Let me use the example of candidates to the EU Parliament. It was a voluntary project in which the candidates — providing they wanted to — could disclose information about themselves. 1,300 candidates took part in elections. We managed to get in touch with 800 of them, because it is usually us trying to get in touch with them on the phone or by email, to follow up by email with the questionnaire they are to fill out and which automatically is filled up on our site. Out of 800 candidates who received it, 200 filled it out for us. So we had 25% interest there. About 20 of them actually got elected.

Has your work been replicated?: 

I think our success is visible when local organizations decide to follow what we do and do something similar. It is then that we realize the interest and need for those activities. There are few competing websites and the fact they exist proves that there is a strong need for those solutions. There are similar portals trying to judge the politicians based on the information we are providing — this is something we are trying to avoid. We do not judge politicians; we leave that up to the users. We are encouraging citizens to make their own judgment while going to elections and casting their vote. But we do see new websites appearing, which only proves the need for it, that there are people and groups increasingly interested in the topic. Some examples are,, — websites developed in last two to three years, responding to the growing need for information.

What transparency/accountability organizations do you work with?: 

We work together with Masz głos, mass wybór (“You Have a Vote, You Have a Choice”), whose aim is to help in local elections. This year, due to the local elections, first of all we gave them access to our system and design, so they can embed the banner linking to our sub-site hosting information about the candidates of that particular area with filled out questionnaires, so they can promote the project among the citizens and representatives of that area. In terms of methodology, we provide them with the questionnaire, which then they can use during the pre-election debates. And of course we stay in touch in case they have any questions or need support.

We also work with Moja Polis, managed by the Klon-Jawor Association — it’s a database of information about all councils in Poland, containing statistical information like levels of unemployment, access to education or health care, and hospitals. We also cooperate with the Centre for Citizenship Education, who manage Młodzi Głosują (“Teenagers Vote”) with the Association of Leaders of Local Civic Groups, educating Poles on access to public information.

Outside of Poland, we work with the British mySociety. Tony Bowden visited us last year and hosted a seminar for us and few other organizations on using various IT tools to increase transparency. I think he is our most inspiring partner from outside Poland.

Further Questions

You mentioned you collect publicly available information — how do you do that? What sources do you use?

We looked at candidates’ websites and their official election assets, like flyers, as we wanted to gain access to longer speeches, not only their slogans. We have also used their social networking profiles — things they posted on Facebook, Nasza-Klasa, Twitter,, their blogs, YouTube — providing they were actually linking to those profiles from their official website. We would not use unofficial, private sites.

Does Poland have a right-to-information law?

Yes, it is the 61st article of the Constitution. We have the right to take part in parliament meetings as well as meetings of local authorities. Based on free applications, we can also speak up on those. We have the ability to record those meetings. We have the right to access the documentation. We have the Biuletyn Informacji Publicznej (Bulletin of Public Information) in Poland — a paper in which various authorities are obligated to communicate with the public facts about their work, including financial issues. Most of the governmental web site editors do not necessarily understand the needs of the audience. They do not know what exactly the content should be and how it should be presented; what is the information that really is or should be of public interest. As a result those sites are very often incomplete. But each office of public administration does have its own website.

How is your project funded?

We are funded by the Fund of Civic Initiatives and so called Norway Grants, as well as the Open Society institute. We also gain funds for each future project separately. We will continue to be funded by OSI, so we hope that in 2011 our citizens will still be able to use our services.


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