Monitoring Campaign Finance in the 2010 Wolesi Jirga Elections
The 2010 Afghan Parliamentary Elections to elect members of the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) took place on September 18th. This election is the fourth attempt to regulate campaign finance in an Afghan election. The Joint Election Management Body (JEMB) was established for the 2004 Presidential election and the 2005 Wolesi Jirga election; where after the Independent Election Commission was established to administer the 2009 and 2010elections. The IEC, and the JEMB before it, is entrusted to administer and regulate the electoral campaign period. Specifically, Article 38 of the Electoral Act of 2005 bestows regulation of campaign finance and to mandate rules and regulation on the electoral campaign period. As such, the IEC has established its “Regulation on Campaign Finance Disclosure by Wolesi Jirga Candidates” which sets conditions on campaign contributions (Article 3) and requires candidates’ disclose on campaign contributions and expenses (Article 4). However, to date, there have been no substantive efforts by an independent monitoring organization to specifically monitor the campaign finances of an Afghan election. Given Afghanistan’s limited experience with campaign finance regulation, disclosure, and enforcement, the 2010 election presents an ideal opportunity to examine and explore the effects, constraints, and challenges related to campaign finance and transparency in Afghanistan. FEFA is a national, independent and impartial institution focused on elections, working to ensure that all democratic processes are implemented transparently through networking, citizen participation, and good governance. Through its many activities, FEFA advocates for better electoral laws, monitors election activities, and fosters a public dialogue on elections related issues to promote better transparency and accountability of the government in the electoral process. This project allows FEFA to build upon its current capacity as an election monitoring organization, to monitor and evaluate campaign finance in Afghanistan elections. The “Campaign Finance Monitoring of the 2010 Wolesi Jirga Elections” is the first campaign finance monitoring project implemented in Afghanistan. As a pilot project, it focused on 16 districts of Kabul Province, including the district of Bagrami, and can be considered a first step towards advancing campaign finance monitoring all over the country for future elections.
The monitoring efforts of this project were intended to study behavior, especially with regards to the abuse of state resources, vote buying, media campaigning and other advertisements. By focusing on behavior around campaign spending, and documenting the level of campaign expenditures and focusing on the different kinds of illicit campaign spending, FEFA is able to make recommendations which may inform electoral reform. This is to say, FEFA’s research under this project does not set out to evaluate the efficacy of certain campaign regulations – but rather, by evaluating the expenditures of the selected candidates we can examine if those expenditures comply with current regulations. By knowing how the money is spent, we examine the laws and regulations on campaign finance regulations. FEFA has focused on specific areas which help to illustrate how money is spent in electoral campaigns – Compliance with IEC reporting requirements, abuse of states resources, and vote buying. The following section on methodology illustrates the process for collecting this information. Please note, for the purposes of this report, FEFA has not released the names of selected candidates nor any of the names of government officials interviewed or documented through field monitoring.
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