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Political Finance Reform

Crinis Project

The Center partnered with Transparency International to establish the Crinis project, which aims to increase public trust in democracy and political parties by promoting transparency and accountability in political financing.

A Crinis study released in May 2007 found deep flaws in the standards and practices governing transparency and accountability in party and campaign financing systems in eight Latin American countries. The main problems are a lack of oversight for private donations, scarce accountability by candidates, and unreliable data delivered by  parties along with the fact that information about political financing is not made public in most of the countries studied.

Crinis, which means ray of light in Latin, evaluates and compares levels of transparency and accountability in party and campaign financing systems in: Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru. Using nearly 150 indicators, it detects weaknesses and strengths in key areas.

Read President Carter's statement to the Organization of American States (OAS).
Read the press release announcing Crinis project results.
Read the Spanish version of the Crinis recommendations (PDF).

Mapping the Media

Reforming the way political parties and elections are financed is vital to strengthening democracy in the Western Hemisphere. Campaign finance scandals have deeply damaged governments in this region, and many voters are concerned that governments make policies with repayment of campaign donors in mind, rather than to serve the public good. A number of nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions have examined the role opaque political financing plays in broader corruption, but few have established methods and practices that countries can apply to achieve reform.

The Carter Center, with a network of international partner organizations, launched the Political Finance Initiative to provide the tools and methods to address and overcome the challenges that weak disclosure laws and uneven media access pose to political finance reform. In addition, the Center has incorporated assessment of campaign finance in its election observation missions, verifying that countries have complied with their own laws and recommending to new leaders steps to improve their country's practices.

A key program of the Center's Political Finance Initiative – in partnership with the University of Calgary and the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) – is Mapping the Media in the Americas, which electronically maps media access and ownership in Latin America. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) state-of-the-art technology, the map digitally "layers" collected data on existing television, radio, and newspaper ownership structure, their broadcast/circulation range, viewership/readership, news sources, and political affiliations over a territorial map of each country. The map shows exactly which news and political advertising sources reach voters in each country's electoral districts. Accessible on the Internet, the map has begun to stimulate public discussion about the relationship between the media and elections, and will inform reforms of laws and regulations to make candidate access to the media more equitable.

(Read more at Mapping the Media: Political Finance in the Americas (PDF), also in Spanish at El Mapeo de los Medios de Comunicacion: Financiamento Politico en las Americas (PDF).

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