Tuesday, April 30, 2013

FDA Talking Points Series: 60-day Rule

The 97-day campaign period in Venezuela shows no signs of causing electorate disinterest. This finding is supported by recent Venezuelan voter turnout in the 80 percent range (Venezuelan presidential election, 2012). (Photo source: facebook.com)
The Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) takes the position that in multi-party electoral systems comprised of large, small, and new parties that a 60-day campaign period is sufficient time for all parties to inform the electorate of their platforms and backgrounds, and the public to process the information. The FDA acknowledges that a balance must be established between too long a campaign period and too short of campaign period. An overly long campaign period may cause excessive campaign expense on political parties and public weariness and disinterest. A very short campaign period may prevent small and new parties from informing the public and the public from adequately processing campaign information. The FDA assumes that 60-days is a reasonable balance the two extremes: 40 days to inform the public and 20 days for the public to process the information. The reasonable length of the campaign period may vary based on the number of registered parties and the nature of the parties.

Comparative Campaign Periods

UNITED STATES

The U.S. federal campaign period for electioneering communication is 60-days. In addition, the U.S. informal campaign period for presidential candidates can be as long as 2 years.

Legislative Research

The FDA could find no legal limit on the length of presidential campaigns. Regarding limitation of awards during Presidential election year, the Presidential election period is defined as June 1 to January 20 in an election year (U.S. Code, Title 5, Section 4508).

Electioneering communications in television and radio format are distributed within 60 days prior to a general election or 30 days prior to a primary, nominating convention or caucus (Code of Federal Regulations, Article 100.29).

The U.S. federal campaign period meets the FDA standard for reasonable and fair length of campaign period. However, it should be noted that a reasonable and fair campaign period is only one component of an electoral system, and can be negated for example by unfair electoral finance processes. In the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, there were 14 presidential candidates (Whiteout Press, 2013).

CANADA

The Canadian federal campaign period is 36-days. This period is 24-days short of the FDA standard of 60-days.

Legislative Research

An election must be held a minimum of 36 days after a proclamation by the Governor in Council for a general election to be held. Parliament must sit at least once every 12 months (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Article 5; Elections Act, Article 57).

Analysis

The short Canadian campaign period favours large, established parties over small and new parties, because small and new parties do not have reasonable time to inform the public of their platforms and backgrounds, while the large, established parties are already known by the public. Also, the electorate does not have adequate time to process the information on the small and new parties. In 2011, as an example, there were 17 registered Canadian federal parties, in which 12 of them were small and/or new parties. Moreover, the short campaign period when combined with other variables, such as public subsidies and media election laws which favour large parties, will likely have a significant negative impact on electoral competitiveness of small and new parties. Furthermore, Canadian constitutional laws have inadequate checks and balances on the powers of the Canadian Prime Minister, so the short campaign period may exacerbate this inadequacy by potentially allowing a party majority control of the Canadian Parliament without facing the public having adequate time to scrutinize the party's policies and members (Garvey, 2013).

VENEZUELA

The Venezuelan federal campaign period is 97-days. This period is 37-days in excess of the FDA standard of 60-days.

Legislative Research 

The National Election Council determines for each election the electoral campaign period (Election Law, Article 71).

The 2012 Venezuelan Presidential Election period is from July 1st to October 5th (Elecciones presidenciales de Venezuela de 2012, 2012).

Analysis

Venezuela's 97-day campaign period gives adequate time for all registered parties to inform the public and the public to process the information. However, due the long length of the campaign period, smaller and new parties will be at a disadvantage to large, established parties from the financial demands of a long campaign period. In addition, the public may become disinterested in the campaigns, which in turn will favour large, established parties because they are already known by the public. Though the polarized nature of Venezuelan politics appears to offset the lengthy campaign period and any grounds for disinterest. This evidenced by recent Venezuelan voter turnout in the 80 percent range (Venezuelan presidential election, 2012).

References

2012 Presidential Candidates. (2013). Whiteout Press. Retrieved from http://www.whiteoutpress.com/timeless/complete-list-of-2012-presidential-candidates/

Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (1982, April 17). Retrieved from the Department of Justice http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-15.html#h-38

Code of Federal Regulations. (2009, January 1). Federal Registry. Retrieved from http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/cfr_2009.pdf

Elecciones presidenciales de Venezuela de 2012. (2012). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from September 18, 2012, from http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elecciones_presidenciales_de_Venezuela_de_2012

Election Law. (2012). National Electoral Council. Retrieved from http://www.cne.gov.ve/web/normativa_electoral/ley_organica_procesos_electorales/indice.php

Elections Act. (2000, May 31). Elections Canada. Retrieved from http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=loi/fel/cea&document=part00&lang=e

Garvey, S. (2013). FDA Talking Points Series: Checks and Balances. Foundation for Democratic Advancement. Retrieved from http://foundationfordemocraticadvancement.blogspot.ca/2013/04/fda-talking-points-series-checks-and.html

U.S. Code. (2012). Cornell University Law School. Retrieved from http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text

Venezuelan presidential election. (2012). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from April 30, 2013, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venezuelan_presidential_election,_2012








Mr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement





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