Merida, July 7th 2011 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – This week Venezuela’s Social Investigation Group XXI (GIS) released new comparative data on electoral fairness in the country compiled by the Canada-based Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) which found Venezuela’s elections to be “exceptionally fair, and thereby highly democratic.”
After a thorough review of Venezuela’s electoral laws and regulations on political news coverage as it relates to elections, equality of campaign financing, equality of candidate and party influence, as well as equality of voter influence, the FDA gave the country a score of 85% in overall “electoral fairness.” In comparison, the United States and Canada scored 30% and 26%, respectively.
The FDA’s Findings
In their report, 2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela, the FDA evaluated Venezuela in four main areas of electoral legislation, with a total of 10 points possible in each area: 1. Political content of media (Result: 9/10); 2. Equality of political candidate and party influence (Result: 9/10); 3. Equality of electoral finance (Result: 8/10); and 4. Equality of voter say (Result: 8/10). In total, Venezuela scored 34/40, or 85%.
According to the report’s authors, the principal source of the country’s electoral fairness is the Venezuelan Constitution, “which emphasizes the rights of citizens and a cooperative, pluralistic, and respectful society.”
Some of the specific aspects of Venezuela’s electoral legislation that positively influenced the results of the FDA’s report include:
In political content of the media and electoral fairness, “TV and Radio networks are not allowed to give their opinion about a specific party; the distribution of advertising time in TV and Radio networks is not regulated or controlled by the National Electoral Council, just the fairness of its use; neither is the cost of propaganda or length of the ads, just the content; political content cannot be offensive to other parties or candidates, encourage violent demonstrations etc.”
In equality of political candidate and party influence, “political propaganda is not permitted in public buildings, schools, hospitals, churches, retirement homes, trees or playgrounds; all propaganda must be destroyed within 30 days after an election; public debates among presidential candidates before elections are not regulated or even mentioned by the laws (open to all registered parties, as is the case in Colombia).”
In equality of electoral finance, “political parties are forbidden from obtaining donations from Venezuelan Foundations or Corporations, Foreign nationals and/or corporations, and anonymous individuals; all funds obtained from donations and every expense made during the campaign must be documented.”
And in equality of voter say, there are “no spending limit on third parties themselves; corporations and unions may spend as much as they want on an election as long as there are no donations to political parties; and the National Electoral Council has the power to ensure a fair diffusion of electoral propaganda.”
According to their website, the Canada-based Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) conducts electoral fairness audits to examine “electoral laws and regulations for equality of political content, equality of candidate and party influence including media exposure and coverage, equality of campaign finance, and equality of voter say.”
To measure electoral fairness in a wide range of countries, from Canada to Egypt, Venezuela to Finland, the FDA evaluates existing laws and regulations in these countries since said laws “provide the foundation for democracy, framework for the electoral system, and an indication of electoral fairness.”
The FDA does also recognize that “electoral laws and regulations may not necessarily correspond to the implementation of those laws and regulations or the public’s response to them” and that “a further study which tracks the actions of mainstream media and the enforcement or non-enforcement of electoral laws and regulation, for example, would provide a more reliable overall determination of electoral fairness.”
Electoral Fairness in a Global Context
On Wednesday Venezuela’s Social Investigation Group XXI (GIS), considered sympathetic to the Chavez government, compiled data from a series of FDA electoral fairness reports and put Venezuela’s results into a global context. The following tables were taken from the GIS website.
Table 1. Comparison of Laws and Regulations for Overall Compliance with Electoral Rules [in which Venezuela scored 85%, followed by Finland (41%), Denmark (35%), the United States (30%), Canada (26%), etc.]
Table 2. Comparison of Laws and Regulations for Equality in Media Content Before and After Elections [in which Venezuela scored 90%, followed again by Finland (40%), Denmark (40%), the United States (25%), Canada (23%), etc.]
Table 3. Comparison of Laws and Regulations for Equality in Voter Protection [in which Venezuela scored 80%, followed by Mexico (70%), Argentina (70%), the United States (60%), Finland (60%), etc.]
Table 4. Comparison of Laws and Regulations for Equality for Political Candidates Before and After Elections [in which Venezuela scored 90%, following the United States (30%), Finland (20%), Denmark (20%), etc.