BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, on Thursday opened the second day of the regional forum “Strengthening Regulation of Political Parties and Political Financing Systems in the Caribbean,” with a call for greater equity and transparency in the systems of political financing in the region.
Political financing reform is necessary, said the secretary general, “not only for the consolidation of free and fair elections, but for the strengthening of democracy.”
“This is not only our duty, but our obligation so that the peoples of the Americas may realize their aspiration for a fair, democratic system, and benefit from the certainty of liberty and equality, which are intrinsic to democracy and indispensable for greater freedom and justice,” said the OAS leader.
“Political funding should not be stigmatized,” said Insulza, “as it is a necessary part of a healthy and normal democratic life. However, it is undeniable that money can introduce important distortions to the democratic process.”
Addressing those distortions is crucial, he added, as “the perception of legitimacy lies at the core of this discussion.”
Insulza stated that, in most countries of the Caribbean where the OAS has deployed electoral observation missions, there is a need for greater regulation of political parties and political financing systems. Nonetheless, he noted as positive the tendency in the region to “seek a balance in the influence of money in politics, and to strengthen the mechanisms for transparency and accountability.”
This regional meeting, taking place in Barbados with the participation of 42 delegates from 14 member states, aims to discuss the underlying complex relationship between money and democracy. The forum builds upon a 2010 regional consultation on model campaign finance legislation organized by the OAS in Kingston, Jamaica, and aims to engage high-level stakeholders in the development of laws and regulations on political financing in order to ensure transparent and equitable electoral processes in the region.