This profile was prepared when Ladislav Briestensk was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Ladislav Briestenský, a former city government official who was quickly frustrated by its bureaucracy, is convinced that if democracy is to succeed in Slovakia, independent local governments must develop new and creative ways of involving citizens. From his own experience in local government, Ladislav knows that the new generation of Slovak officials are well-meaning and often creative, but that they also frequently lack both the experience to implement new ideas and the communicative channels through which to encourage the public's involvement. As Ladislav has witnessed, this disconnect has stunted the growth of local governments throughout Slovakia and limited the political participation of citizens.In response, Ladislav has founded a training and consulting service for local officials which introduces them to innovative, democratic solutions to the problems they face. To complement the training services, Ladislav has developed a literature that he circulates to local governments throughout Slovakia and a media campaign that he directs at citizens to encourage their involvement in political processes. Together, these efforts help align the interests of local citizens and their governments, and open wide channels of communication that will help them tackle future problems.As there are currently no other programs of this sort in Slovakia, Ladislav feels that he must popularize his ideas aggressively, and to that end he has also begun forging connections with NGO leaders throughout the country and plans to expand his staff.