Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
DESCRIBING PROPOSALS by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to implement various financing systems to regulate the conduct of elections as unfounded, Senator Lambert Brown said the body should instead focus on ensuring the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) works.
In making his contribution to the debate on a report on campaign-finance reform in the Senate yesterday, Brown said there was no evidence that money had been the determining factor in the result of any election since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.
"This view of campaign financing affecting the fairness of the outcome of our elections has its foundation more in fear rather than rooted in the experience and prudence of the Jamaican voter," Brown said.
The government senator said the ECJ failed to provide the Parliament with evidence that big money has contributed to the outcome of elections.
"This view about the role of campaign financing as a determinant of fairness in the outcome of elections belittles the wisdom and prudence of our people, of the voters, of the choices they have made over and over," Brown said.
He said candidates have used their political organisations and campaigns to secure electoral success.
According to Brown, the fact that incumbent parties and government ministers, who would have access to more resources, have lost elections time and again was testimony to the fact that money was not the grand determinant in electoral outcomes.In its report to Parliament, the ECJ said the unregulated flow of money into campaigns oftentimes has negative consequences.
The report said there was the risk that those who donate funds would control the elected representatives they finance. It also said that there was a risk that dirty money would corrupt the system and undermine the rule of law.
The ECJ also raised concern that persons without money or access to money were prevented from running for office or getting meaningful representation. It further argued that large sums of money in election campaigns could give undue advantage to some candidates and constrain competition.
The ROPA allows
for a candidate to spend up to $3 million in promoting his candidature.
The ECJ is proposing that the limit be increased to $15