Officials ponder campaign financing legislation

DFP Leader Judith Pestaina (left) and Chief of OAS Electoral Observer Mission Steve Grinner (right)

In the wake of the 2009 general elections, the issue of campaign financing has been placed on the front burner by key players in the process.

Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Judith Pestaina has come out in support of such legislation, suggesting in a recently released statement that the victory of the Skerrit-led Dominica Labour Party (DLP) at the polls underscored the need for campaign finance laws.

“That will ensure the fairness and integrity of elections in the country as well as the need for disclosure of sources for campaign financing, if our country is not to be martyred on the altar of expediency,” she noted.

“The playing field on which the elections was won was not level especially with the exclusion of opposition parties to access to the media, inducement of voters by the Labour Party to vote in violation of section 59 and 56 of the House of Assembly Elections Act, and distribution of money by ministers of Government to influence outcome of elections,” Pestaina alleged.

Accusations of chartered flights bringing in voters en masse emerged during the 2009 campaign. The ruling DLP has been accused by opposition partied of spending money to attract both voters and candidates.

Pestaina said an extremely low voter turnout at the December 18 poll demonstrated that a vast number of Dominicans are “completely disillusioned” with the status quo and opted not to vote.

OAS Chief of the Election Observer Mission Steve Griner, on hand to witness the 2009 elections, also referred to the benefits of campaign finance legislation.

However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has pointed to the effect such legislation would have on the treasury.

“The question is are we as Dominicans ready to fund political parties’ Campaigns? When you talk about campaign financing in America, the treasury of the United States provide funding to political parties. You can opt, as Mr. Obama did, not to accept. So there’s no limit in how much you can raise and you can spend. But if you decide you want to use the resources from the United States treasury there’s a limit on how you can raise beyond that … if the state is going to speak of campaign financing and putting the legislation in place, I would want to think that the state would have, to some degree, fund political parties and I have to ask the people of Dominica whether that is something they would want, because sometimes we ask for things and when we get it we have a problem with it. So, we have to be
careful what we ask for,” he noted.

“I have done some research, some limited research, and anywhere there is campaign financing or something to do with that the treasury has a part to play in financing the political parties It’s a matter for us to put on political debate … I am sure if the treasury is going to fund the campaign of any political party based on whatever formula they use, well, I’m sure those being charged for raising funding for my party would be certainly relieved,” Skerrit added.

The issue of campaign financing legislation is not new to this region. In 2007, Secretary General of the Organisation of American States (OAS) Jose Miguel Insulza recommended the implementation of campaign financing legislation in Jamaica. He held discussions with then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other government officials on the matter.

That year, in an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner, Insulza said the OAS was prepared to assist its members financially and otherwise, to enact legislation in several members  of the 34-country organisation.

In February of this year, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Professor Errol Miller announced that they are in the final stages of drafting a report on the issue of campaign funding for political parties.

The draft report had been undertaken following a series of town meetings and consultations held islandwide.

Miller said the report would be presented to Parliament on completion.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit

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22 Comments

  1. JewlerAZonq
    February 27, 2011

    Though I am far from the topic, but still I liked it

  2. May 31, 2010

    a little more and I will join you

  3. May 19, 2010

    Support the author, all right.

  4. May 2, 2010

    right now I will come in the picture and join you.

  5. May 2, 2010

    totally agree with you, all right.

  6. April 13, 2010

    We made good, I’ll use it.

  7. s.j
    December 22, 2009

    no one obey the law of d/a not even the pm

  8. December 22, 2009

    If there were no political parties these problems would not arise. The British Westminster system of government, imposed on small island economies like Dominica, is the root cause. Read my argument at – http://non-partypolitalsystem.blogspot.com/2008/04/intransigence-of-small-island-politics.html.

  9. HopeSpringsEternal
    December 22, 2009

    http://2010.newsweek.com/top-10/world-predictions/china-will-crash.html

    It’s become conventional wisdom that China is the key winner of the global financial crisis. After all, it’s growing 8 percent a year, politically stable, and flush with cash—the Chinese didn’t even feel the credit crunch thanks to a trillion dollars in new bank lending over the last year. But all that easy money has inflated stock and housing markets, leading many high-level investors to worry about a bubble. Indeed, a number of hedge funds have grown bearish on China, and even Chinese officials warn that a fair bit of the country’s new lending and investment has ended up as hot money in the market.

    Still, Beijing continues to ramp up production of the steel, cement, and chemicals needed to build huge, government-funded public works and manufacturing projects, even as there is plenty of spare capacity in the system. Green technology has become the latest fad (one third of the $600 billion stimulus program is dedicated to it), but a recent report from the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China cautioned that the Middle Kingdom is making far more wind power than anyone will be willing to buy. The result is that the China stock and real-estate bubble will collapse, leading to a destabilizing bout of global deflation. If this occurs in tandem with a banking crisis, a trade war, or a slowdown in Chinese growth, it could be a pop heard round the world.

  10. HopeSpringsEternal
    December 22, 2009

    This is for us simpletons who have not yet realized the gravity of our actions:

    http://2010.newsweek.com/top-10/world-predictions/chavez-faces-another-coup.html

    The bullish global economy and skyrocketing demand for crude oil until late this decade played into the hands of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez. But the recession took the wind out of Hurricane Hugo, and now Chávez’s quest to convert Latin America to “21st-century socialism” is falling apart. A carnival of government spending and a disastrous price freeze promise to stoke inflation. Prices, up 30 percent in 2009, will head even higher in 2010; inflation falls hardest on wage earners and the poor, Chávez’s choice constituency, and decimates public investment in roads and electricity. As rolling blackouts, mounting government debt, and the Cold War with Colombia—Venezuela’s biggest trade partner after the U.S.—grow worse, the problems will paralyze the economy, hobbling factories and emptying supermarkets. Fresh milk, beef, and floor fans become luxury items. Chávez declares war on the daily bath, “a bourgeois indulgence.” Even with oil prices rebounding, Venezuelan GDP tumbles for the second year running, shrinking 2 percent in 2010 as the rest of the world pulls out of recession. Privation stokes despair and crime; the murder rate in Caracas, already the hemisphere’s most violent city, goes off the charts. The Bolivarian leader’s vaunted popularity tumbles. The mood among the humblest Venezuelans, who put Comandante Hugo in power in the first place, and the disgruntled middle class, accustomed to Western-style consumerism, turns mean. The military steps in to depose Chávez and restore order, as 21st-century socialism spins toward the familiar 20th-century tableau of scarcity, poverty, and chaos.

  11. WEND
    December 22, 2009

    People Its about Transparency. Get It !

    It is time for us to wake up intellectually as a people, be informed know the F…ing Issues. Its possible and most likely that 3/4 of the electoral who voted on the 18th did not have a full understanding of the issues. No Public Debates Only Pledges…

    True, there are signs of development around the country Yes! BUT how are they being financed? is it grant monies or is it loans at ridiculously high interest rate? that we will have to pay back eventually, if not by us,our children and there children will have that responsibility.

    There are serious issues that needs to be addressed immediately.

    One last comment, Let’s pretend that all the allegations made by the opposition about corruption is false but how do you explain Mr. Amberrose the Roseau South Rep… being qualified to part take in the elections and being elected ?

    PLEASE PRINT

  12. andy
    December 22, 2009

    i understand the medler’s point; however, i think that by having the citizens (Treasury) fund campaigns this will allow a greater range of candidates. If the only people who can run for office are just the people who are super rich, have the backing of the super rich, or just a puppet for the people of this world who have agendas that are contrary to that of the citizens, then the citizens are not being fairly represented.

    Like Mike said, in the States, the law says that the candidate has to disclose the source of funding, and donors are restricted to the amount that they donate ($2,300 per donor). Siting the Obama campaign, they had to return a lot of the money that they raised simply because they could not give the source or the donor donated in excess of the maximum allowed.

    Having the Treasury fund candidates could end up being very tricky, but this may be the only way to get people who are for the people to run for office. However, if its a budgeted line item then i think it should be easy to track.

  13. BLACKLIST
    December 22, 2009

    Judith Pestaina WHO IN THIER RIGHT MIND WOULD VOTE FOR YOU………………………

    YOU NEVER USE TO BE A DOMINICAN BEFORE NOW YOU SEEM TO CARE SO MUCH………….

    WE NEVER FOREGET THE PEOPLE WHO CARE NEVER……………………………………..

    NUFF SAID

  14. medler
    December 22, 2009

    NO MONEY FROM THE TREASURY TO ASSIST ANY POLITICAL PARTY. WHEN THEY LOSE HOW WILL THEY PAY BACK?
    What they have done in the past, that’s what is being done now and they are vex because they lose so they will have to deal with it. THIS IS NOT THE FIRST ELECTION WHERE WE HAVE PEOPLE COMING FROM OVERSEES TO VOTE AND THE MEANS OF TRANSPORTATION BEING PAID BY A POLITICAL LEADER!

  15. Mike
    December 22, 2009

    Here goes the Prime Minister again trying to … the nation. Campaign finance has to do with more than just finance from the public Treasury. In America, which he refers to, campaign finance also relates to private donations and disclosure of sources of donations, issues Mr. Skerrit wants to evade by giving the (false) impression that campaign finance only has to do with support from the people’s Treasury.

  16. PR
    December 22, 2009

    Electoral reform is paramount and necessary in Dominica. If not the next elections will have all the same issues.

    First off systems need to be set to ascertain who is eligible to vote. The law says if you live out of DA for 5 years straight you cannot vote. So how do we track this? This is first.

    Then we need to clean the list. Take off all who have do not meet the criteria for voting dead or alive.

    Then we need some campaign financing legistlation. Not necesarily what the US has, but we can look at other frameworks around the world and develop one that works for us.

    Then we need some way to continualy update this voters list to ensure that it is always being cleaned and not only when elections around the corner.

    Finally we need some way that the eligible voters in the diaspora can cast their vote, this would eliminate parties bringing in their people to vote to try to sway an election result.

    Just my humble opinions.

    Intelligent, fair minded people should have no issues with these.

  17. Prophet2
    December 22, 2009

    This President is just symbolic and powerless, Skerrit is the all-powerful, just wait and see.

  18. December 22, 2009

    Campaign financing can take many forms and it does not have to be modeled by the American system.

    So to say that the treasury would not be able to finance it is just not a reasonable excuse. First, the PM

    should be willing to look into it then, make a decision when the facts are in. This is an important issue

    and it should be given considerable consideration.

  19. WORKERS
    December 22, 2009

    NOW IS DAVID VERSES GOLIATH THE STONE WILL SOON GO IN THE SLING

  20. Dominican lover
    December 22, 2009

    I think the Presiden should be voted, not elected. He is independent and impartial upholding the laws of the counry.

  21. shelli
    December 22, 2009

    First things first – we have too many god dam political parties that are proving to be a big waste of time for a population of under 100,000.

    The USA has over 300 Million people and they only have two political parties.

    Jamaica has close to 3 Million people and there are just the Jamaica Labour Party and the Peoples National Party.

    But come down the chain of smaller islands and you see old mass!!!!!

    No amount of campaign finance legislation will help the Freedom Party!!!. And that is a fact.

    The State of Dominica must not lend financial support to any political parties.

    In the history of politics in Dominica finance does not guarantee political victory – that was so in 1980 when OJ had all the funds at his disposal with all kinds of political giveaways and lost to the DFP. The Freedom Party lost seats in 1985 when they had a war chest of funds. In 1990 and 1995 Freedom Party had bigger war chest of cash as the incumbent and DFP lost to UWP. In 2000 the UWP HAD THE BIGGEST war chest of cash in the history of political campaigning in Dominica to date and lost to the DLP and DFP coalition.

    From all estimates the DLP did not spend over EC$5 Million.

    Putting campaigning financing legislation in place will only allow all political parties to be a lot more creative in hiding their sources of finance. I will not enlighten any party here.

    And besides there will be no need for another election soon anyway since Dominica and the other Caribbean Islands will be forming a political and economic union by 2013 that will see a group of new political elites controlling us – persons who are not even from Dominica.

    Soon and very soon we will be obeying Mr. Bruce Golding from Jamaica as the first Regional Prime Minister!!!!!!!

    Too bad Ron, Edison, Judith and Para will not have a seat at the highest regional parliament of the Caribbean.

  22. Dominican lover
    December 22, 2009

    Skerro all they talking about will just bleed the treasury.
    1. We dont need ID because Dominicans already have ID, the social security number. What we need is to update the electoral roll.
    2.Political parties should get there own funds. Not from the treasury.
    3. PM must keep informing the people of his missions and the decisions he has taken.
    4. Laws have to be enforced in Dominica.

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