2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit of theBolivarian Republic of Venezuela‘s FederalElectoral SystemElectoral Fairnes...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 2 of 70Prepa...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 3 of 70To en...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 4 of 70Table...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 5 of 70Intro...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 6 of 70The F...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 7 of 70How t...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 8 of 70Elect...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 9 of 70Media...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 10 of 70fina...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 11 of 70Chap...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 12 of 70Legi...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 13 of 70shou...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 14 of 70The ...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 15 of 70Each...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 16 of 70Each...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 17 of 70The ...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 18 of 70elec...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 19 of 70Anal...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 20 of 703) T...
Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 21 of 70Chap...
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Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 23 of 70Medi...
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Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 26 of 702012...
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Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)
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Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)

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Revised as of April 15, 2013 (Revision #1)

Executive Summary

The Venezuelan federal electoral system is very satisfactory as determined by the overall audit score of 78.83 percent (out of 100 percent). The FDA auditors measured

1) one unsatisfactory passing score for legislation pertaining to electoral finance (52.5 percent);
2) one very satisfactory score for legislation pertaining to candidates and parties (77.9%);
3) two exceptional scores for legislation pertaining to media election coverage
(100 percent) and voters (84.9 percent).

The FDA audit focused on 52 variables, and it utilized matrices, financial analysis, and scoring scales. The most notable areas of the system are Venezuela’s commitment to complete and balanced election coverage, thereby supporting a fair playing field for candidates and parties, and a commitment to people’s right to vote and the act of voting through various innovative and progressive measures. However, electoral finances of candidates and parties are only transparent to the state, and there are no direct caps on campaign contributions and no direct limits on expenditures. The lack of public financial transparency creates the potential for pro-government parties to pursue corrupt financial practices and leave anti-government parties subject to unjust assessments of their finances including targeting their contributors. The lack of caps and limits on electoral finances may create an unfair playing field in the realms of billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, because these media are not covered by the complete and balanced coverage requirement. The FDA has no evidence of electoral financial wrongdoing, as does no one else, because only the Venezuelan State through the National Electoral Council is privy to party finances. The FDA recommends reforms that will bring about public electoral finance transparency, caps on campaign contributions and limits on campaign expenditures. If implemented these reforms would make the Venezuelan electoral system a model for the rest of the world. As it stands, these limitations have the potential to allow for corrupt financial practices and create unfair playing fields for candidates and parties.

Overall the FDA recommends that the public get continuously and actively involved with the government legislative process and implementation if they want to protect and advance their democratic voice, and create a society of their choosing.


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Venezuela--2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit Report (Revised April 15, 2013)

  1. 1. 2012 FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit of theBolivarian Republic of Venezuela‘s FederalElectoral SystemElectoral Fairness Audit Completed October 1, 2012Revised as of April 15, 2013Executive SummaryThe Venezuelan federal electoral system is very satisfactory as determined by the overallaudit score of 78.83 percent (out of 100 percent). The FDA auditors measured1) one unsatisfactory passing score for legislation pertaining to electoral finance(52.5 percent);2) one very satisfactory score for legislation pertaining to candidates and parties(77.9 percent);3) two exceptional scores for legislation pertaining to media election coverage(100 percent) and voters (84.9 percent).The FDA audit focused on 52 variables, and it utilized matrices, financial analysis, andscoring scales. The most notable areas of the system are Venezuela‘s commitment tocomplete and balanced election coverage, thereby supporting a fair playing field forcandidates and parties, and a commitment to people‘s right to vote and the act of votingthrough various innovative and progressive measures. However, electoral finances ofcandidates and parties are only transparent to the state, and there are no direct caps oncampaign contributions and no direct limits on expenditures. The lack of public financialtransparency creates the potential for pro-government parties to pursue corrupt financialpractices and leave anti-government parties subject to unjust assessments of their financesincluding targeting their contributors. The lack of caps and limits on electoral finances maycreate an unfair playing field in the realms of billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, because these media are not covered by the complete and balanced coveragerequirement. The FDA has no evidence of electoral financial wrongdoing, as does no oneelse, because only the Venezuelan State through the National Electoral Council is privy toparty finances. The FDA recommends reforms that will bring about public electoral financetransparency, caps on campaign contributions and limits on campaign expenditures. Ifimplemented these reforms would make the Venezuelan electoral system a model for therest of the world. As it stands, these limitations have the potential to allow for corruptfinancial practices and create unfair playing fields for candidates and parties.Overall the FDA recommends that the public get continuously and actively involved withthe government legislative process and implementation if they want to protect and advancetheir democratic voice, and create a society of their choosing.
  2. 2. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 2 of 70Prepared ByMr. Stephen Garvey, Executive Director Foundation for Democratic Advancement, Bachelor ofArts in Political Science, University of British Columbia and Master of Philosophy inEnvironment and Development, University of Cambridge.Purpose of the Venezuelan Electoral Fairness AuditThe purpose of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA)‘s electoral fairness audit(the ―Audit‖) is to determine a comprehensive grade for electoral fairness in Venezuela at theexecutive and assembly levels of government. This Audit is an extension of the FDA‘s globalaudit of electoral fairness involving all countries that hold political elections. The purpose of theglobal audit is to quantify electoral fairness, establish benchmarks for electoral fairness, identifyareas of democratic advancement and progression, and encourage democracy reform whereneeded.The goal of the FDAs Venezuela report is to give the people of Venezuela and otherstakeholders an informed, objective perspective of the Venezuelan federal electoral system andprovide recommendations for reform. Venezuelans may want to use this information as a way tohelp determine their electoral choices. The release of the FDA‘s revised Venezuela report justprior to the 2013 Venezuelan Presidential Election coincides with this initiative.The views in this electoral fairness audit are the views of the FDA only. The FDA‘s members arein no way affiliated with the National Electoral Council or any of the Venezuelan registered/non-registered political parties. The Audit is an independent assessment based on objectivity,transparency and non-partisanship. The FDA assumes no responsibility or liability for any errorsin the measurement and calculation of its audit results or inaccuracies in its research of relevantVenezuelan legislation.About the Foundation for Democratic AdvancementThe Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) is an international independent, non-partisan democracy organization. The FDA‘s mission isto measure, study, and communicate the impact of government processes on a free anddemocratic society.Overall, the FDA works1. to ensure that people become more knowledgeable about the outcomes ofgovernment processes and can then make decisions that are more informed;2. to get people involved in monitoring government processes at all levels ofgovernment and in providing sound, practical, and effective suggestions. (For moreinformation on the FDA visit: www.democracychange.org)
  3. 3. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 3 of 70To ensure its objectivity and independence, the FDA does not conduct privately paid research.However, if you or your organization has an important research idea or are aware of an importantissue on government processes, the FDA is available to listen to your idea or issue and possiblyhelp raise public awareness by initiating and leading change through report research andanalysis. Please contact the FDA at (403) 669-8132 or email us at info@democracychange.orgfor more information.An online version of this report can be found at: www.democracychange.orgFor further information and/or comments on this report please contact Mr. Stephen Garvey atstephen.garvey@democracychange.org
  4. 4. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 4 of 70Table of ContentsIntroduction 5How to Read the Report 7Chapter 1: Electoral Finance Audit Results 11Analysis 19Chapter 2: Media Election Content Audit Results 21Analysis 28Chapter 3: Candidates and Parties Audit Results 30Analysis 42Chapter 4: Voters Audit Results 43Analysis 52Chapter 5: Overall Audit Results 53Chapter 6: Analysis 54Chapter 7: Conclusion and Recommendations 57References 60Appendix: Research Methodology 64FDA Research and Audit Teams and Observers 69
  5. 5. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 5 of 70IntroductionThe FDA based its audit of Venezuela‘s federal electoral legislation on non-partisanship andobjectivity.The audit process entails three major components:1) Research of Venezuelas federal electoral legislation and any related legislation anddocuments.2) Audit of the legislation and research findings based on audit team consensus, and the FDA‘smatrices, financial spreadsheets, and scoring scales.3) Analysis of findings.The FDA based the matrix scoring scales on the fundamental democratic principles of legislativeneutrality, political freedom, and political fairness. In addition, it based the scales on thecomparative impact of variables on democracy. For example, if there is no electoral financetransparency then this result will affect other variables such as caps on contributions. Withoutfinancial transparency, it is near impossible to enforce electoral finance laws, which prevent anduncover electoral finance wrongdoing. Consequently, according to the FDA‘s matrices, zerofinancial transparency will lower the score for caps on contributions.The FDA‘s research component is objective as it is simply a compilation of the legislativeinformation and financial data for the Venezuelan system and any related findings based in factand sound empirical research.The FDA‘s audit component is both objective and subjective. It is objective when determiningyes and no facts, such as does country ―A‖ have caps on electoral contributions—yes or no? It issubjective because of the predetermined scores for each audit section, and the scores determinedfor each section. The FDA acknowledges that there is no absolute scoring system ordetermination of scores.The FDA minimizes subjectivity through non-partisanship and basing each score on facts,research findings, financial calculations, and team audit consensus. It bases the scoring scales foreach section of the audit on consensus of the FDA auditors and survey results of relevantpersons. In addition, the application of core democratic concepts such as electoral legislativeneutrality, political freedom, and political fairness, and the comparative impact of variables ondemocracy inform the scoring scales. Finally, the FDA requires a minimum quorum of fiveexperienced auditors during audit sessions. For further discussion of the FDA methodology,please see the Appendix on page 63.
  6. 6. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 6 of 70The FDA is a registered non-profit corporation, and therefore it cannot issue tax-deductiblereceipts. In addition, the FDA is the sole funder of this report. As a policy to maintain itsindependence and objectivity, the FDA does not conduct privately funded research projects. TheFDA relies on donations. If you value this report, please consider donating to the Foundationfor Democratic Advancement to help cover the costs of producing this report and communicatingits content to the stakeholders, and to continue its work on Venezuela.“Democracy is not a spectator sport.”- Marian Edelman
  7. 7. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 7 of 70How to Read the ReportChapters 1 to 4 focus on the four sections of the FDA‘s audit of the Venezuelan federal electoralsystem. These chapters are formatted in the following manner1) Chapter summary and table of audit results for the section.2) Audit questions, legislative research and audit findings on each audit subsection.3) Analysis of audit measurements and findings for the section.Chapter 6, ‗Overall Analysis‘, pertains to the measurements and findings from all four auditsections.Definition of Key TermsThe Foundation for Democratic Advancement characterized the following definitionsCandidates and parties (audit section three)The opportunity and ability of candidates and parties to campaign in the public domain forelected positions. This opportunity and ability occur before, during, and after an election period.Candidates and parties may involve election content of media, electoral finance, and voters (asdefined below). In the terms of the FDA electoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoralprocess, candidates and parties includes:1) Registrations requirements for candidates and parties.2) Laws on candidates‘ and parties‘ access to media and reasonable opportunity to takeadvantage of the access.3) Regulations on access to major debates.4) Electoral complaints process for candidates and partiesIn the FDA electoral fairness audit, candidates and parties only encompasses laws, regulations,procedures etc. that affect the influence of candidates and parties. For example, candidates andparties does not encompass laws on electoral complaints by voters nor does it encompass laws onvoter assistance at polling booths.Electoral fairnessThe impartiality and equality of election law before, during, and after an election period. In thecontext of the audit, electoral fairness involves concepts relating to election content in the media,candidates and parties, electoral finance, and voters. In particular, this includes evaluatingimpartiality and balance of political content in the media, equitable opportunity and ability forregistered candidates and parties to influence voters and government, equitable electoral financelaws, and equitable opportunity and ability for voters to voice political views and/or influencethe outcome of an election.
  8. 8. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 8 of 70Electoral fairness does not allow bias through, for example, legislation that gives a distinctelectoral advantage to one registered party over another, or laws that allow equitable access tomedia without facilitating equal opportunity to take advantage of this access. In contrast,electoral fairness would include a broad, balanced diffusion of electoral propaganda byregistered political parties during the campaign period, equal campaign finances (beyond equalexpenditure limits) for all registered parties according to the number of candidates endorsed, andthe registration of parties based on reasonable popular support (rather than financial deposit orunreasonable popular support).Electoral fairness in any democratic process must include an equal playing field for registeredparties and candidates, distinguishable by voters according to a clear political platform, and abroad and balanced political discourse in where information about electoral choices are clear andavailable to the voting public.Electoral finance (audit section one)Electoral finance laws applied to registered candidates and parties before, during, and after anelection period. Electoral finance also encompasses campaign finance which is restricted to thecampaign period.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, electoral finance includes:1) Caps on electoral contributions (or the lack of).2) Caps on candidate and party electoral expenditures (or the lack of).3) Procedures for financial disclosure and reporting of candidate and party electoral finance.4) Procedures for the handling of electoral contributions by registered candidates and parties.Electoral finance does not include non-financial laws, regulations, procedures etc. such as thoserelating to candidate and party access to media, civil rights laws such as freedom of speech andassembly, rules on right of reply in the media, laws on the election content of media, and laws onvoter assistance.Special interest-based democracyA system in where either individual or corporate interests dictate government action and factionswith the most economic and political power in society influence policies and legislation. Theelectoral system is set up to allow special and minority interests to impact election outcomesprimarily through electoral finance and media access and exposure.People-based democracyA system where power is invested in the people and the population as a whole influencegovernment policies and legislation. The electoral system is set up in a fair and equitable mannerso that all citizens, within reason, have an opportunity to influence the election outcome to thesame degree.
  9. 9. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 9 of 70Media election coverage (audit section two)The political content of radio and television broadcasters, the printed press, and online newsmedia such as news sites before, during, and after an election period. This content may includenews stories, editorials, articles, programs, and group analysis and discussion. It does not includeelectoral advertisements by candidates, parties, and third parties. Electoral advertisements bycandidates and parties are included in candidates and parties, and electoral advertisements bythird parties are included in voters and electoral finance.In the context of FDA electoral fairness audit, election content of media includes:1) Registration requirements for television and radio broadcast companies and press companies.2) Laws on the ownership concentration of media (or the lack of).3) Laws on the election content of media before, during, and after a campaign period.4) Laws on freedom of the press and broadcasters.The FDA defines ―balance‖ in the media as having equal political content of all registeredpolitical parties presented during the election period. Voters should receive balanced informationon all registered candidates and parties in order for election outcomes to reflect the will of themajority. The FDA does not support the idea that incumbent or previously successful partiesshould be favoured in media coverage in a current election as this could create bias based merelyon past results, and potentially weaken the process of capturing the will of the people in thepresent. In addition, the FDA does not support unlimited freedom of broadcast and press mediaand believes there is a misleading connection between this and democracy. The purpose ofdemocratic elections is to capture as accurately as possible the will of the people from districts.Broad and balanced electoral discourse creates an informed electorate and supports the will ofthe people. The FDA concedes that media ownership concentration laws aimed to producepluralistic ownership could cancel out any imbalance in political content and provide equitablecoverage of all registered political parties.Voters (audit section four)The citizens who are eligible to vote and their opportunity to express that vote and a politicalvoice through articles, letters to editors, blogs, advertisements, spoken word etc. in the publicdomain. Voter influence applies to the period before, during, and after an election.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, which focuses on electoral process, votersinclude:1) Laws and regulations on freedom of speech and assembly.2) Laws on the registration requirements for voters.3) Laws on voter assistance at the polling booth.4) Laws on the inclusion of minorities in the electoral process.In the context of the FDA electoral fairness audit, voters may be impacted by the election contentof media, and candidates and parties and electoral finance law. For example, no cap oncontributions to candidates and parties will affect voters because no cap favors voters with more
  10. 10. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 10 of 70financial wealth, and thereby the lack of cap creates electoral inequity and imbalance amongvoters.
  11. 11. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 11 of 70Chapter One: Electoral FinanceThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan electoral finance laws and the FDAs audit of them in termsof electoral fairness. Based on the political concepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism,the FDA team audits electoral finance laws according to their equity for registered candidates,parties, and voters (see Appendix on page 63 for further explanation). The FDA team audits fromthe standpoint of a peoples representative democracy. Table 1 below shows the FDA‘s auditvariables, their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 1Electoral FinanceSection Variables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsElectoral FinanceTransparency20% 2.0 0.0 0.0%Contributions toCandidates & Parties15% 1.5 1.0 100%Caps on Contributionsto Candidates & Parties20% 2.0 1.25 62.5%Campaign ExpenditureLimits22.5% 2.25 1.0 44.44%Caps on Third-partyExpenditures12.5% 1.25 1.0 80%Legislative Process 10% 1.0 1.0 100%Variables from OtherSectionsn/a n/a n/a n/aTotal 100% 10 5.25 52.5%The FDA chose these subsections because they represent core areas of electoral finance. Theaudit of electoral finance includes examination of Venezuelan electoral finance legislation andthe application of legislative research to the FDA matrices. Matrix scoring is based on an overallscore of 0 to 10 out of 10.What follows are the audit questions, legislative research, and audit findings:Electoral Finance TransparencyAudit Questions1) Are candidate and party finances transparent to the public?2) Are candidate and party finances transparent to candidates and parties only?3) Are candidate and party finances transparent to the government only?
  12. 12. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 12 of 70Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to set guidelines for financing and political-electoral advertising and impose penalties when these guidelines are not followed (ElectionPower Act, Article 33 (20) and Venezuela Constitution, Article 293(3)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to determine and regulate all matters pertainingto the financing of national election campaigns (Election Power Act, Article 33 (23)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to ensure compliance with laws on financing ofelection campaigns of political organizations, constituency, civic groups, or citizens andindependent candidates (Election Power Act, Article 33 (24)).The Committee on Political Participation and Financing has the authority to control, regulate,and investigate funds for political purposes and electoral campaign financing (Election PowerAct, Article 64).Representatives of candidates and the candidates must report in writing to the National ElectoralCouncil the name, identity card or Tax Information Registry of the persons authorized to pay forpropaganda (Election Law, Article 74).The state requires political parties to document and account for their income and investments.Political parties must submit a general ledger or inventory book to the state and must retain thoserecords for five years (Law on Political Parties, Article 25(6).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to register in the Electoral Registration Financial Informationwithin five days before the start of an election campaign (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043,Article 258).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to register through the System Automated information of income,expenses, receivables and accounts payable, within the first five (5) calendar days to the end ofeach month, and be activated 5 days prior to the start of an election campaign (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 259).The Commission of Political Participation and Finance may conduct financial research, analysisof accounting, and financial audits to ensure compliance financial regulations (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 260).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to maintain a system of accounting that records transactions, andpreparation of economic and financial statements that conform to accepted accounting principles(Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 265).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to use up to two designated bank accounts, and these accounts
  13. 13. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 13 of 70should be consistent with the accounting books and information transmitted through automatedaccountability (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 269).The state requires political organizations, voter groups, indigenous communities andorganizations, and candidates to perform monthly updates to the automated system ofaccountability accounts within the first 5 days to maturity of each month (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043 Article 272).Within 60 days following an election, the state requires political organizations, voter groups,indigenous communities and organizations, and candidates to submit their final campaignfunding reports through the automated system of accountability accounts (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043, Article 273).The Commission on Political Participation and Financing will conduct random audits oncampaign funds of parties, organizations, or individuals (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043,Article 276).The National Electoral Council may not disclose financial figures on candidates, parties etc.during the campaign, but releases them after the campaign period (Vergara, 2012).The FDA researchers found no legislation that requires the National Electoral Council to releasepublicly financial information on candidates and parties.Audit FindingCandidate and party finances are only transparent to the state.Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAudit Questions1) Are contributions restricted to citizens?2) Are contributions disallowed by foreigners, public institutions, and charities?3) Are anonymous contributions set at a reasonable level?Legislative FindingsThe state disallows anonymous contributions (General Election Regulation, Article 257(1)).The state disallows contributions from public agencies, public foundations receiving funds fromgovernments or foreign agencies, and foreign companies headquartered abroad (ElectionResolution No. 100304-0043, Article 257).The state disallows contributions from foreign donors and companies contracted to providepublic services (Vergara, 2012).
  14. 14. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 14 of 70The state disallows election propaganda to be funded from abroad (Election Law, Article75(14)).The FDA researchers found no laws that restrict contributions to individuals.Audit FindingsVenezuelan citizens and corporations can both make electoral contributions. The state disallowsforeigners, and Venezuelan public institutions and charities from making electoral contributions.The state disallows anonymous contributions, and thereby eliminates the possibility of illegalanonymous contributions.Caps on Contributions to Candidates and PartiesAudit Questions1) Are the caps on candidates and parties contributions reflective of per capita disposableincome level?2) Are the caps on candidates own contributions reflective of per capita disposable incomelevel?ResearchAs of October 2011, there are 18,022,710 Venezuelans on the voters list (GDP per capita(current US$), 2012a). The 2011 estimated GDP per capita income for Venezuela is $12,400(USD) (GDP per capita (current US$), 2012a). The FDA Researchers were unable to find percapita disposable income data on Venezuela.Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found indirect restrictions on contributions through a requirement for―complete and balanced‖ election propaganda and coverage. These restrictions help offset nolegislated cap on contributions and no limit on expenditures.The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or againstparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).
  15. 15. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 15 of 70Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The FDA researchers found no direct restrictions on contribution amounts.The FDA researchers found no direct restrictions on personal contributions by candidates.Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council has the authority to finance in part or in full the diffusion ofelectoral propaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulationsthat require complete and balanced election coverage. In addition, each candidate is limited to ahalf page print ad in national newspapers per day, broadcast ads are limited to 3 minutes per day,and radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day. Therefore, FDA auditors concluded that there arein effect indirect caps on contributions to candidates and parties and allowed the scores to reflectthis. The indirect cap does not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events. The FDAauditors determined that a cap of 3 minutes per day for the 97-day campaign period is notreflective of per capita gross income of $12,400. For example, if a 3-minute ad costs $250,000,then that works out to $24,250,000 (USD) in advertisement expense over the campaign period,and that does not include ads in other media sectors. The FDA auditors determine that theelectoral subsidies through National Electoral Council do not directly create a level playing field,because they do not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, and it is unknownto what extent the National Electoral Council disseminates election propaganda for the distinctpurpose of promoting equality among parties.Campaign Expenditure LimitsAudit Questions1) If there are campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties, are they set high enoughand still reasonably attainable by all registered candidates and parties?2) If there are public subsidies or other financial instruments, do they create an equal level ofcampaign finances for candidates and parties?Legislative ResearchThere are no public subsidies for candidates and political parties (Vergara, 2012).The FDA researchers found indirect restrictions on expenditure limits through a requirement for―complete and balanced‖ election propaganda and coverage. These restrictions help offset nolegislated cap on contributions and no limit on expenditures.The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).
  16. 16. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 16 of 70Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council has the authority to finance in part or in full the diffusion ofelectoral propaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulationsthat require complete and balanced election coverage. In addition, each candidate is limited to ahalf page print ad in national newspapers per day, broadcast ads are limited to 3 minutes per day,and radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day. Therefore, FDA auditors concluded that there arein effect indirect campaign expenditure limits on candidates and parties and allowed the scores toreflect this. The indirect expenditure limits does not include billboards, flyers, posters, andcampaign events. The FDA auditors determined that a cap of 3 minutes per day for the 97-daycampaign period is not reflective of per capita disposable income of $12,400. For example, if a3-minute ad costs $250,000, then that works out to $24,250,000 (USD) in advertisement expenseover the campaign period, and that does not include ads in other media sectors. The FDAauditors determine that the electoral subsidies through National Electoral Council do not directlycreate a level playing field, because they do not include billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, and it is unknown to what extent the National Electoral Council disseminates electionpropaganda for the distinct purpose of promoting equality among parties.Caps on Third-party SpendingAudit Questions1) If there is third party spending, is it restricted to citizens only?2) If there are caps on third party spending, are they high enough and reasonably attainable byall adult citizens?3) Are there public subsidies, or other financial instruments, that create an equitable level ofthird party spending?Legislative ResearchThe state only allows political organizations, candidates, and indigenous groups and voter groupsrepresenting candidates disseminate election propaganda (General Election Law, Article 203).
  17. 17. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 17 of 70The state requires political organizations, voter groups, candidates, indigenous communities andorganizations to register through the System Automated information of income, expenses,receivables and accounts payable, within the first five (5) calendar days to the end of eachmonth, and be activated 5 days prior to the start of an election campaign (Election ResolutionNo. 100304-0043, Article 259).Audit FindingOnly candidates, parties, and indigenous organizations and voter groups representing candidatescan distribute election propaganda.Legislative ProcessAudit Question1) Is there an effective legislative process to enforce electoral finance laws?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to set guidelines for financing and political-electoral advertising and impose penalties when these guidelines are not followed (ElectionPower Act, Article 33 (20); Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 293(3)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to determine and regulate all matters pertainingto the financing of national election campaigns (Election Power Act, Article 33 (23)).The National Electoral Council has the authority to ensure compliance with laws on financing ofelection campaigns of political organizations, constituency, civic groups, or citizens andindependent candidates (Election Power Act, Article 33 (24)).The Committee on Political Participation and Financing has the authority to control, regulate,and investigate funds for political purposes and electoral campaign financing (Election PowerAct, Article 64).The National Bureau of Financing has the authority to investigate election wrongdoing asdirected by the Committee on Political Participation and Financing (Election Power Act, Article69).The state has a system of sanctions for individuals and organizations found guilty of electoralmisconduct (Election Law, Article 227).Punitive measures include: 15 to 50 tax units or equivalent of one day of arrest per tax unit forelection officials who refuse to accept the vote of electors entitled to vote; 20 to 60 tax units toproportional arrest for impeding the election process or election propaganda or promote acandidate who has failed to meet registration requirements; 5000 to 7000 tax units for public orprivate media refusal to broadcast election propaganda, public or private media disseminating
  18. 18. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 18 of 70election propaganda within 48 hours prior to Election Day, or breach the fairness of mediacoverage; 500 to 700 tax units or proportional arrest for other violations of the Election Law asdetermined by a competent authority (Election Law, Articles 231-233).The National Electoral Council is comprised of five persons not related to political organizations,one from faculty of law or political science, one by the Citizen Power, and three nominated bycivil society. The members of the National Electoral Council are approved by a vote of two-thirds of the National Assembly and can be removed by the National Assembly after a ruling bythe Supreme Court (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 295 to 296).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive legislative process to enforce electoral finance laws that includesan automated system of accounting, random audits, and significant punitive measures forfinancial contraventions. The fact that the finances of candidates and parties are not disclosed tothe public or other candidates and parties places limits on this process; however, FDA auditorsdid not deduct marks in this particular section, but rather, in the electoral finance transparencysection. In addition, a lack of transparency does not necessarily result in ineffective enforcementof electoral finance laws. This is generally contingent on misconduct by the National ElectoralCouncil and sub-committees.Total score for electoral fairness relating to electoral finance: 52.5 percent out of 100 percent.
  19. 19. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 19 of 70AnalysisThe FDA auditors measured an unacceptable passing score of 52.5 percent for Venezuelanelectoral finance legislation. The FDA auditors identified an innovative process of indirect capsand limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, a strong legislative process for electoralfinance including automated filing system, random audits, and strong enforcement mechanisms.However, the absence of direct or indirect limit on billboards, flyers, posters, and campaignevents, the expense for mass-media advertisements that are not reflective of per capita disposableincome, and the fact that electoral finances are only transparent to the state might work tocounteract these positive aspects. The potential for financial corruption by pro-governmentparties, an unequal standard of financial audits, targeting of contributors to anti-governmentparties by the state, and an unequal financial playing field for candidates and parties are evident.FDA summaries of the key findings on the Venezuelan electoral finance laws and theirimpact1) Electoral finances are only transparent to the state through the National Electoral Council.ImpactThere is the potential for financial corruption by pro-government parties, because only thestate is privy to electoral finances.The state may apply unequal financial accounting and auditing measures, and thereby favorpro-government parties.The state may target contributors to anti-government parties for discrimination orpunishment.2) No direct caps or limits on campaign contributions and expenditures.ImpactThe state‘s indirect caps and limits on contributions and expenditures apply to mass mediaadvertisement; however, advertisement levels are not reflective of per capita disposableincome and might favor wealthier parties.Media limitations do not apply to billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events, givingwealthier parties an unfair advantage in this realm of advertisement.
  20. 20. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 20 of 703) The state allows corporations to contribute to candidates, parties, voter groups, andindigenous organizations.ImpactElectoral law relating to campaign contributions favors corporations over the electorate.Corporate earnings are clearly higher than per capita disposable income, allowing for agreater impact on the election process and outcome than from the majority.Venezuela requires significant reforms of its electoral finance legislation. As it stands, thereis the potential for electoral finance corruption and an unfair playing field for parties andcandidates. To put Venezuela‘s score of 52.5 percent in context, in an identical audit theUnited States received a failing score of 48.25 percent, a score that takes into account zerocaps on contributions, no limit on expenditures by non-connected third parties (Super PACs),and no expenditure limits for privately funded presidential and congressional candidates(FDA Global Electoral Fairness Report on the United States, 2012).
  21. 21. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 21 of 70Chapter Two: Media Election CoverageThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan‘s media laws and the FDAs audit of them. Based on theconcepts of egalitarianism and political liberalism, the FDA audit team examined media lawsaccording to the standard of broad and balanced political coverage before, during and after acampaign period (see Appendix for further explanation). Table 2 below shows the FDA‘s auditvariables, their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 2Media ElectionCoverage SectionVariables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsBroad and BalancedElection Coverage30% 3.0 3.0 100%Media Ownership 15% 1.5 1.5 100%Survey/Polls 5% 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Media 40% 4.0 4.0 100%Press Code ofPractice/Conduct10% 1.0 1.0 100%Variables from OtherSectionsn/a n/a n/a n/aTotal 100% 10 10 100%Broad and Balanced Political CoverageAudit Questions1) During the campaign period, is the media (private and public) required legally topublish/broadcast broad/balanced coverage of registered candidates and parties?2) Outside of the campaign period, is the media legally required to publish/broadcastpluralistic/balanced coverage of registered parties?3) If the media is legally required to publish/disseminate broad and balanced political coverage,are there reasonable monitoring and penalty mechanisms in place?Legislative ResearchThe Election Law does not prevent the President from conducting his professional duty during anelection, including speeches on all the country‘s TV channels and radio stations (Vergara, 2012).The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).The state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).
  22. 22. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 22 of 70The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the election period. Venezuela lawdefines election propaganda as information that encourages or persuades the electorate to votefor a particular candidate or party, or against a particular candidate or party (Election Law,Article 75(1)).The state requires the promoter of election propaganda to be disclosed (Election Law, Article 75(5)).Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The National Electoral Council may finance in part or in full the diffusion of electoralpropaganda in the media of radio, television, or print in accordance with regulations includingensuring complete and balanced coverage (Election Law, Article 78).Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Publications, radio stations, television stations and other official media may not be used by anypolitical party for their propaganda (Election Law, Article 35).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Audit FindingsVenezuela has comprehensive legislation on broad and balanced election coverage during thecampaign period. Outside of the campaign period, the state does not allow candidates, parties,and third-parties from disseminating election propaganda. In addition, the state disallows publicand private media from disseminating their own election propaganda. Further, the NationalElectoral Council monitors election coverage, and has strong enforcement mechanisms in placeto enforce the laws on election propaganda.
  23. 23. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 23 of 70Media Ownership Concentration LawsAudit Questions1) If there are media concentration laws, are they effective in causing a plurality of politicaldiscourse?2) If there is no legal requirement of media plurality, impartiality, and balanced content ormedia ownership concentration laws, are there any other laws that are effective in causing aplurality of political discourse before and during an election period?Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found effective and comprehensive antitrust legislation relating to mediaownership concentration. The state also requires equal candidate and party access to media,complete and balanced campaign coverage, and impartial media election content. In addition, theNational Electoral Council has the power and authority to enforce these laws, including thefinancial capacity to disseminate election propaganda.Venezuelan antitrust laws do not allow economic concentrations that have anticompetitiveeffects and/or create a dominant position. Economic concentration is the result of mergers oracquisitions (Venezuela Antitrust Legislation, 2012).Venezuela‘s new 2012 antitrust laws prohibit, prevent, correct, eliminate, and punishmonopolistic and oligopolistic behaviors and practices, and in general those practices that hinderparticipation by all produces, suppliers etc., (Venezuelan antitrust bill establishes more ways toexpropriate, 2012).Audit FindingVenezuela has effective measures in place to prevent media ownership concentration through itsantitrust legislation.Surveys/PollsAudit Question1) Are there reasonable public disclosure requirements on surveys and polls in terms of theirmethodology, data, and funder?Legislative ResearchThe state prohibits the disclosure of results of polls or surveys, which aim to present electoralpreferences or voting intentions, seven days prior to Election Day (Election Law, Article 82).Any publication of a political nature must have a corresponding imprint (Election Law, Article34).
  24. 24. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 24 of 70Opinion polls and surveys disseminated in the media must include the names of the personsregistered to perform the polls or surveys, and the technical specifications and methodology ofthe polls or surveys (During the Election Campaign Propaganda, Article 219).Audit FindingVenezuela has comprehensive disclosure requirements on opinion polls and surveys, whichinclude information on date, methodology, and pollster and/or surveyor.Freedom of the MediaAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of the media (including journalists)?Legislative ResearchThe state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote a particular candidate or party or againstparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).The state requires for equal of media access to all registered candidates and parties (ElectionLaw, Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Any political party for its propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, television stationsand other official media (Election Law, Article 35).
  25. 25. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 25 of 70Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The National Electoral Council will monitor election propaganda to ensure compliance withElection Law (Election Law, Article 89).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).In cases of access to information, the confidentiality of journalists and other professionals will beretained as determined by law (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 28).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. Non-anonymity, war propaganda, discriminatory messages orthose promoting religious intolerance will not be tolerated (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),electronic media including internet must not transit content that will ―foment anxiety in thepublic or disturb public order‖, ―incite or promote disobedience of the current legal order‖,―refuse to recognize the legitimately constituted authority‖ or ―incite or promote hatred orintolerance.‖ The government broadcasting authority, CONATEL, has the authority to orderinternet service providers to restrict access to those that violate the Social Responsibility law(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat there are no restrictions on political content and election campaign content.Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),broadcast media that transmit content which violates the prohibitions against ‗fomentinganxiety‖ and ―promot[ing] disobedience‖ face fines of 10 percent of their gross income andsuspension for up to 72 hours (Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society,
  26. 26. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 26 of 702012). The FDA researchers note that there are no restrictions on political content and electioncampaign content.Under the Law for Social Responsibility in Radio, Television and Electronic Media (2010),broadcast media licenses may be revoked for transmitting content which ―advocate, incite orconstitute propaganda for war‖ or ―induce homicide‖ (Venezuela: Legislative Assault on FreeSpeech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers note that there are no restrictions on politicalcontent and election campaign content.Under the Organic Law of Telecommunications (updated December 20, 2010), the state maysuspend or revoke the broadcasting concessions to private outlets if the state thinks it is―convenient for the interests of the nation or if public order and security demands it.‖ In addition,the assets of privately owned stations or channels whose operating license has expired orterminated by the broadcasting authority will ―revert‖ to the state to ensure continuity of service(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat these regulations may affect electoral discourse by limiting the diversity of media voices.However, the revoked licenses are largely based on, for example, inciting hatred and violenceand not on typical political discourse.Under the Law for the Defense of Political Sovereignty and National Self-Determination, thestate disallows Venezuelan non-governmental organizations from receiving international support(Venezuela: Legislative Assault on Free Speech, Civil Society, 2012). The FDA researchers notethat this regulation does not prevent Venezuelan non-governmental organizations from having avoice in election discourse.Under the Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Walser,2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Article 75 states that election propaganda mustrespect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals anddirect obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities of public power,institutions and public officials or public servants.Audit FindingsIn its constitution, Venezuela identifies freedom of expression as a fundamental principle of thecountry. Venezuela‘s Law on Social Responsibility places limits on freedom that encourageviolence and hatred, for example. However, there are no restrictions on the freedom of themedia, within the bounds of providing complete and balanced election coverage and notdisseminating its own election propaganda. The FDA auditors did not find unreasonable limitson freedom of the media.
  27. 27. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 27 of 70Press Code of Practice/ConductAudit Questions1) Does a Code of Practice/Conduct that supports impartial, balanced electoral coverage guidethe press?2) If a Code of Practice/Conduct that supports impartial, balanced electoral coverage guides thepress, is the Code of Practice/Conduct enforceable?Legislative ResearchThe FDA researchers found no private code of conduct to guide broad and balanced presscoverage during election periods.The FDA researchers found no legislated code of conduct to guide press coverage during theelection period. However, Venezuela has other legislation that guides the election coverage ofthe press including:Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).Each candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (National Electoral Council Investigates Campaigns, 2012).Radio ads are limited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive code of conduct for the press‘s election coverage, whichincludes complete and balanced coverage, no dissemination of its own election propaganda, andlimits on daily print ads by candidates.Total score for electoral fairness relating to media content: 100 percent out of 100 percent.
  28. 28. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 28 of 70AnalysisThe FDA auditors found no deficiency in Venezuela‘s media legislation, and therefore itreceived 100 percent, the highest attainable score, in this audit. Venezuela balances mediafreedom with complete and balanced election coverage, and thereby puts the Venezuelanelectorate first. To allow any public or private media company free reign during elections in thename of press freedom is to act contrary to interests of the people. Democratic elections arefundamentally about the electorate, and the media‘s role during elections is to help inform theelectorate objectively so that they can make the most informed decision on Election Day.Venezuela recognizes and enacts this fundamental democratic principle.In contrast, the American media legislation does not mediate electoral discourse. It allowsprivate media to disseminate any election information they choose, ergo such companiesdetermine electoral dialogue and how broad and balanced it is. This approach exposes theAmerican public to biased, subjective, and mis-information, especially considering that theindividual ideology and political agenda of owners and profit motivate the actions and positionof many American companies. Consequently, in the 2012 FDA United States audit, theAmerican media legislation received a failing score of 42.4 percent as compared to Venezuela‘s100 percent score. Further, the FDA media study on the 2012 U.S. Presidential Electionconfirmed the potential for narrow and imbalanced election coverage in the United States (FDAMedia Study of the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election, 2012).Venezuela does not allow public or private media outlets to create election propaganda, andrequires the media to provide ―complete and balanced‖ coverage to the electorate. Media outletscannot refuse to disseminate election propaganda from any candidate or party unless it violatesVenezuelan law. There are no restrictions on media sharing its viewpoint on candidates andparties, as the long as it does not take the form of election propaganda. The Venezuelan statereserves election propaganda for candidates, parties, voter groups, and indigenous communitiesand organizations. Finally, the state does not allow election propaganda outside of the 97-dayelection period. The FDA likens these media regulations to a national media code of conductduring elections. In the FDA‘s opinion, the Venezuelan approach to media is fair and just. It isnot the media‘s role or place in democracy to create election propaganda or employ its facilitiesfor election propaganda.As mentioned in the research on the Venezuela‘s media laws, the Law on Social Responsibilityhas no discernible impact on political expression and campaign coverage. This law pertains tohate speech, speech that promotes and encourages violence, and other forms of malevolentbehavior. In addition, Article 72 from the Election Act prohibits slanderous attacks on candidatesand public officials, and at the same time, allows constructive criticism of candidates and publicofficials. Therefore, in the FDA‘s opinion, Article 72 has little to no impact on political freedomand election discourse.Further, the Law of Telecommunications allows the state to suspend and revoke broadcastingconcessions to private outlets if ―public order and security demands it.‖ Again, this law pertainsto extreme situations where the state may need to assert control. The FDA thinks this law haslittle or no relevant impact on political discourse or election coverage. In a historical context,
  29. 29. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 29 of 70there is evidence that the Venezuelan private media aided the attempted coup in 2002. It wouldfollow that the state would adopt measures to prevent a similar occurrence.
  30. 30. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 30 of 70Chapter Three: Candidates and PartiesThis chapter focuses on Venezuelan laws pertaining to candidates and parties. The FDA auditteam examines election laws according to their equity for registered candidates and parties (seethe Appendix for further explanation). Table 3 below shows the FDA‘s audit variables, theircorresponding audit weights, and results:Table 3Candidates & PartiesSection Variables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAudit Results % ResultsCampaign Period 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Methodology for ElectionWinners2% 0.2 0.03 15%Electoral Boundaries 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Process of Government 10% 1.0 1.0 100%Registration of Candidates 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Registration of Parties 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Freedom of Expressionand Assembly20% 2.0 2.0 100%Electoral Complaints 3% 0.3 0.3 100%Presentation of Ballots 1% 0.1 0.1 100%Scrutineers 1% 0.1 0.1 100%Candidate and PartyCampaign Advertisement6% 0.6 0.5 83.33%Variables from OtherSections49% 4.9 3.19 65.1%Total 100% 10 7.79 77.9%Campaign PeriodAudit Question1) Does the length of the campaign period reasonably and fairly allow all registered candidatesand parties enough time to share their backgrounds and policies with the voting public?Legislative ResearchThe National Election Council determines for each election the electoral campaign period(Election Law, Article 71).The 2012 Venezuelan Presidential Election period is from July 1stto October 5th(Eleccionespresidenciales de Venezuela de 2012, 2012).Audit Findings
  31. 31. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 31 of 70The National Electoral Council determines the campaign period and FDA researchers did notfind an explicit length for the campaign period. However, in the 2012 Presidential Election, theNational Electoral Council has set the campaign period at 97 days. The FDA auditors determinethat 97 days is a reasonable length of time for candidates and parties to share backgrounds,platforms, and policies with the electorate.Methodology for Determining Winners of DistrictsAudit Questions1) Is the determination of election winners based on first-past-the-post?2) Is the determination of election winners based on proportional representation closed list?3) Is the determination of election winners based on proportional representation open list?Legislative ResearchThe Venezuelan Constitution guarantees the principles of personalization of suffrage andproportional representation (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 63).30 percent of the seats in the National Assembly are determined by proportional representation,and the rest are determined by first-past-the-post (Wilpert, 2010).Audit FindingsAlthough the Venezuelan constitution guarantees proportional representation, there are noexplicit directives for this process. Currently, proportional representation closed lists decide 30percent of the seats in the National Assembly, and FDA auditors determined a score of 0.3 (30percent of 0.1) accordingly. First-past-the-post determines 70 percent of the seats in the NationalAssembly, resulting in a 0.0 score because there is no value given to first-past-the-post (due to itslack of proportionality).Electoral BoundariesAudit Question1) Is the process for determining electoral boundaries reasonable and fair for all registeredcandidates and parties?Legislative ResearchVenezuela electoral district boundaries are based on a minimum of three legislators per state.The total number of legislators varies in proportion to the country‘s population. The number oflegislators elected is determined by dividing the total number of residents in any given district by1.1 percent of the national population (Suggett, 2010).
  32. 32. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 32 of 7030 percent of the seats in the National Assembly are determined by proportional representation,and the rest are determined by first-past-the-post (Wilpert, 2010).The National Electoral Council redraws voting district boundaries (Election Power Act, Article33(11); Venezuelan election law approved, 2009). According to the NCE the districts areredrawn using standard legal method designed not to benefit any party. Rural districts have morevoter weight than urban districts (Suggett, 2010). The FDA researchers deem that giving morevoter weight to rural districts is reasonable and fair because urban populations are significantlymore concentrated. Federal rural districts in Canada may have more weight per voter ascompared to urban areas (Electoral Boundaries Readjustment Act, 2012). As of 2012, the Albertafederal electoral districts are within 5 percent of electoral population quota, which mean someelectoral districts could have 10 percent more population than others (Proposed ElectoralDivision Areas, Boundaries, and Names for Alberta, 2010).Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council draws Venezuela electoral boundaries according to a standardlegal method designed to benefit no particular party. The FDA researchers found no evidence tocontradict this decision or process. Although rural districts garner more voter weight than urbandistricts, this imbalance is relatively acceptable due to discrepancy in population density betweenthe two regions.Process of GovernmentAudit Question1) Within the structure of government do political representatives, individually and asgovernment bodies, have reasonable say in the formation of government policy, legislationetc.?Legislative ResearchThe Venezuelan President is in power for six years, and may be re-elected with no term limit(Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, First Amendment, Article 230).Deputies to the National Assembly are elected for five years and may be reappointed or re-elected, depending on position, with no term limit (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, First Amendment, Article 192).The Venezuelan government has four main independent branches of government: NationalExecutive, National Assembly, Judiciary, and Citizen Power (represented by an ombudsmenoffice). The National Executive lead by the President and Vice-President is in charge of runningthe country; the National Assembly is the authority of national legislation; the judiciary led bythe Supreme Court is authority on the Constitution and enforcing law, and the Ombudsman
  33. 33. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 33 of 70Office is in charge of protecting the people‘s interests and rights (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Articles 72-74, 225-283, 347-350).Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if thepeople in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered.Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transferpower to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of thePresident of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members ofthe Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voterregistration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 73).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repealexisting laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of theregistered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to abrogate laws issued by thePresident of the Republic under Article 236 if those in favor of the referendum have the supportof at least 5 percent of the registered electors. The validity of referendum requires at least 40percent support from registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article74).Budget laws including taxation are not subject to referendum nor are laws for protecting,guaranteeing, and developing human rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Article 74).Audit FindingsVenezuela has four main branches of government: National Executive, National Assembly,Judiciary, and Ombudsman Office. These branches create checks and balances that work toprotect the interests of Venezuelans as a whole. In addition, Venezuela allows citizenreferendums. The President has no term limits; however, in order to continue his/her period inoffice s/he must win the election every six years.Registration of CandidatesAudit Question1) Are the registration requirements of federal candidates reasonable and based on reasonablepopular support rather than finances?Legislative ResearchOnly Venezuelans by birth may hold the position of President and Vice-President of Venezuela,and President and Vice-President of the National Assembly (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 41).
  34. 34. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 34 of 70Only Venezuelans by birth or naturalization (15 years of uninterrupted residence in Venezuela)may hold the position of Deputies of the National Assembly (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 41).Citizens can run as candidates of parties or as independents (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 67).Presidential candidates must be more than 30 years of age, layperson, registered with ElectoralRegistry, and not be subject to a disqualification (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article112).Deputy candidates for the National Assembly must be at least 21 years of age at date of theelection, resided for at least four years in a corresponding state, and be registered in the ElectoralRegistry (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 113).Independent candidates must have at least five percent support of the electorate in thecorresponding territorial scope of position (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Article 130).Indigenous candidates must apply through their indigenous communities or organizations. Inaddition, the candidates must meet the following requirements (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 142-145)1) Have exercised by traditional authority in their respective Community.2) Having established record in the social struggle for the recognition of their cultural identity.3) Have taken action on behalf of the people and indigenous communities or organization.4) Belonging to an indigenous organization legally constituted a minimum of three (3) years ofoperation.Audit FindingsVenezuela has reasonable registration requirements for presidential and deputy candidates, inwhich presidential candidates must be at 30 years old, and deputy candidates must be at least 21years old. In addition, the President must be Venezuelan by birth, while Deputies must beVenezuelan by birth or naturalization of 15 years. There are no financial requirements oncandidate registration, and independent candidates must have at least 0.5 percent electoralsupport in their corresponding election area. Indigenous candidates for three regions must havethe support of their communities prior to becoming a candidate.
  35. 35. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 35 of 70Registration of PartiesAudit Question1) Are the registration requirements of parties reasonable and based on reasonable popularsupport rather than finances?Legislative ResearchAll Venezuelans have the right to associate for political purposes (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 67).Political parties are required to adopt a name different from other political parties (Law onPolitical Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Article 7).Regional and national parties must have popular support of not less than 0.5 percent of thepopulation enrolled in the electoral registry of the respective territorial scope of party (Law onPolitical Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 10 and 26).Parties must submit three copies of the party‘s statement, charter, political agenda, and statues,and description and drawing of symbols and emblems of party, and list of party leaders and theirroles to the Supreme Electoral Council (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings andDemonstrations, Article 10).Political parties in their charters are forbidden from being subordinate to the directives fromforeign entities and associations if the subordination threatens the sovereignty or independenceof the nation or bring about change by violence to the national institutions legitimatelyconstituted (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Article 6).Citizen groups who had candidates in the last elections and obtained at least 3 percent of the voteare not subject to fulfilling registration requirements (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetingsand Demonstrations, Article 23).Anyone can object to or appeal decisions regarding party registration (Law on Political Parties,Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 13-15).Renewal of national party registration requires proof of 0.5 percent popular support, or at least 1percent of votes cast in previous election (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings andDemonstrations, Article 26).Audit FindingsTo be registered, political parties need at least 0.5 percent popular support. There are no financialrequirements for registration. The FDA auditors deem these registration requirements reasonableand consider a barrier of entry necessary due to the privileges of entry such as media access andexposure.
  36. 36. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 36 of 70Electoral ComplaintsAudit Questions1) Do candidates and parties have mechanisms in which to file complaints for electoralwrongdoing/fraud?2) Are there reasonable mechanisms to enforce candidate and party electoral complaints?Legislative ResearchThe National Electoral Council has the authority to hear and resolve complaints under theElection Power Act (Election Power Act, Article 33 (31)).Any electorate may make a claim about his or her electoral registration, and complaint will gothrough a legal process to determine its validity (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles28-29; Election Law, Article 21).Any electorate may make claims of electoral wrongdoing. There is specific process in place forelectoral complaints, including a detailed written statement of complaint/allegation,investigation, and opportunity for defense against complaint (Election Resolution No. 100304-0043, Articles 281-288).The state has specific procedures for public complaints regarding election propaganda. Thecomplaints process involves complaint filing, investigation, appeal process, resolution includingremoval of propaganda and punitive measures against violator (Election Power Act, 20-33).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).Audit FindingsVenezuela has a comprehensive electoral complaints process that is open to all citizens. Itinvolves an appeal process and enforcement mechanisms, including immediate removal of illegalelection propaganda.
  37. 37. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 37 of 70Presentation of BallotsAudit Question1) Are electoral lists presented on ballots in a fair, equitable way for all registered candidatesand parties?Legislative ResearchSince the Venezuelan electoral system is almost 100 percent automated, computer screensdisplay the ballots. When a citizen votes, they get a print out of their vote to confirm that theyvoted the way they intended (Electoral technology in Venezuela. 2012, Election Law, Articles121 and 131).The NCE reveals the ballots designed for the upcoming presidential elections with theVenezuelan electorate on August 16, 2012, prior to Election Day. The purpose of sharing thesample ballots is for informational purposes. An image of the candidates, their name, and thename of their parties is on the ballot (Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, 2012).The FDA researches viewed images of the sample ballots.Audit FindingsThe National Electoral Council designs the ballots. FDA researchers did not find legislation ontheir design but viewed a sample design for the 2012 Presidential Election. It had an image ofpresidential candidates, their name, and the name of their party. In addition, the NationalElectoral Council shares its ballot designs with the electorate almost two months prior toElection Day, and allows the electorate to view the ballots prior to Election Day.Poll Watcher and ChallengerAudit Question1) Are candidates and parties allowed poll watchers and challengers at polling stations?Legislative ResearchVenezuelan automated ballot system subject to observation by political representatives (Letter tothe Foundation for Democratic Advancement about the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots,2012).Political representatives are permitted to ink their fingers and test different soluble substances toverify reliability of ink used in elections ((Letter to the Foundation for Democratic Advancementabout the Secrecy of Venezuelan Voting Ballots, 2012).
  38. 38. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 38 of 70At polling stations, the Electoral Board allows the local presence of electors and electoralwitnesses with no limitation other than the local physical capacity and security of the election(Election Law, Article 140).The tally sheet of election results shall be legible and be signed by the electors and witnessespresent (Election Law, Articles 142-143).Political organizations, groups of electors, candidates or the candidates on their own initiativeand indigenous communities and organizations have the right to have witnesses to the electoralbodies‘ subordinates (Election Law, Article 157).Witnesses will not be inhibited in performing their duties by members of the electoral bodies(Election Law, Article 158).The automated electoral system has an electoral audit and verification audit by citizens. Electoralaudit ensures the system is fully functional and reliable. Electors receive voting receipts toconfirm that they voted as they intended (Election Law, Articles 159-162).The Electoral Board uses the same steps as the state in determining citizenship (Election Law,Article 163).Audit FindingsVenezuela has comprehensive legislation on observation by political representatives duringmany stages of the electoral process. In addition, the state permits political representatives toverify key aspects of the electoral process such as finger ink used on Election Day.Candidate and Party AdvertisementAudit Questions1) During the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal access to radio, television,and print media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement?2) During the campaign period, do candidates and parties political advertisements in mediainclude a public subsidy component to ensure an equality of political advertisement in themedia?3) Outside of the campaign period, do candidates and parties have equal to radio, television, andprint media for political advertisement, and equal cost of political advertisement?Legislative ResearchEach candidate is limited to a half page print ad in national newspapers per day, and broadcastads are limited to 3 minutes per day (Venezuelan Embassy Washington, 2012). Radio ads arelimited to 4 minutes per day (Walser, 2012).
  39. 39. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 39 of 70The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).The FDA researchers could not find legislation that requires an equal cost for advertisements forall candidates and parties. The National Electoral Council‘s authority to finance thedissemination of election propaganda, and the state requirement that the media observe arigorous balance of candidate and party advertisement in terms of space and time partly offsetsthis lack of legislation.Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The state does not view candidates and leaders of political organizations, and any political groupor organization participation on talk shows, news radio or television or in social media printed,digital, or other mass media as electioneering communication (During the Election CampaignPropaganda, 2012).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).The FDA researchers found no legislated public subsidy component in the Venezuelan electoralsystem, except indirectly through the NEC, which has the authority to finance the disseminationof election propaganda and ensure equality of political advertisement in the press, radio, andtelevision. The NEC‘s authority does not include billboard, poster, and flyer advertisements. Thepress, radio, and television are mass media outlets (Election Law, Article 78).The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the election period. Venezuela lawdefines election propaganda as information that encourages or persuades the electorate to votefor a particular candidate or party, or against a particular candidate or party (Election Law,Article 75(1)).The state disallows posters, drawings and other propaganda on public buildings and monuments(Election Law, Article 32).Any political party for their propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, televisionstations and other official media (Election Law, Article 35).Audit FindingsAlthough electoral law demands equal access to media for all candidates and parties, there is noprovision that the media charge the same advertisement costs to all candidates and parties.Therefore, the FDA auditors made a 50 percent deduction in its score. During the campaignperiod, the National Electoral Council disseminates election propaganda and works to ensurecomplete and balanced campaign coverage, which acts as an indirect subsidy for candidates andparties. The state does not allow election propaganda outside of the campaign period.
  40. 40. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 40 of 70Freedom of Speech and AssemblyAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of speech and assembly?Legislative ResearchPolitical associations have the right to advertise during the election period by any means ofdissemination whether oral or written within the limits of the law such as no posters on publicbuildings and no use of patriotic symbols and portraits or pictures of the heroes of independence(Election Law, Articles 30 and 32).The state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).The state disallows public and private media from making their own election propaganda aimedat encouraging or persuading the electorate to vote for a particular candidate or party or against aparticular candidate or party (Election Law, Article 79).The state requires equal media access to all registered candidates and parties (Election Law,Principles and Rights, Article 72(10)).Public and private media election coverage will be complete and balanced without distorting thereality of the campaign. The media must observe ―rigorous‖ balance in terms of space and timedevoted to information on candidates and parties (Election Law, Article 81).Any political party for its propaganda may not use publications, radio stations, television stationsand other official media (Election Law, Article 35).Broadcast media must not refuse to broadcast election propaganda unless directed by theNational Electoral Council (Election Law, Article 80).The National Electoral Council will monitor election propaganda to ensure compliance withElection Law (Election Law, Article 89).The National Electoral Council has the authority to order media to withdraw election propagandaif it violates Election Law. Offenders or alleged offenders may object orally or in writing within5 days of notification. In case of dispute, within 5 days a hearing will open and a decision madewithin five working days of the hearing (Election Law, Article 90).
  41. 41. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 41 of 70In cases of access to information, the law maintains the confidentiality of journalists and otherprofessionals (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 28).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. The law does not tolerate non-anonymity, war propaganda,discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).The state permits meetings and demonstrations in public places. Organizers must give 24-hournotice for the meeting or demonstration. An alternative day and time may be established if thereis a simultaneous meeting or demonstration taking place. The state does not regulate privatemeetings (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 36-46).Under Election Law, the state forbids any citizen from insulting public officials (Ray Walser,2012). Article 72 states that citizens are required to respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputations of individuals. Under Article 75, election propaganda shallnot disrespect respect the honor, privacy, intimacy, self-image, confidence and reputation ofindividuals or direct obscenities and derogatory statements against the agencies and entities ofpublic power, institutions and public officials or public servants.Audit FindingsThe Venezuelan Constitution and Election Law establish and guarantee freedom of speech andassembly. The FDA auditors did not identify unreasonable restrictions on freedom of expressionor assembly for candidates, parties, or the public. The Law of Social Responsibility does notapply to political expression and assembly. Article 72 of the Election Law applies, partly, toslanderous, disrespectful, and dishonorable personal attacks on candidates, and not politicalexpression.Total score for electoral fairness relating to candidates and parties: 77.9 percent out of 100percent.
  42. 42. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 42 of 70AnalysisVenezuela‘s legislation pertaining to candidates and parties received a score of 77.9 percent.Without considering variables from other sections, the FDA measured a score of 94.7 percent forthe candidates and parties section. Based on this score, Venezuela has an exceptionally fairplaying field for candidates and parties. The FDA did not identify any deficiencies in legislationdirectly related to candidates and parties. Although Article 62 of the Constitution mentionsproportional representation and this process determines only 30 percent of electoral seats, there isno specific legislative or constitutional requirement on how proportional representationdetermines electoral districts.The legislation on ―complete and balanced‖ election coverage in the media helps to ensure a fairplaying field for candidates, as do the caps on electoral propaganda in the mass media. Inaddition, the registration of candidates and parties through established popular supportencourages candidates and parties who represent the voice of the people to participate in theelection.The main deficiencies in the candidates and parties section stem from the finance section. Mostnotably, there are no caps or limits on campaign contributions and expenditures, and the NationalElectoral Council‘s ability to ensure complete and balanced coverage only partly offsets thisshortcoming. For example, billboards, flyers, posters, and campaign events are not included inthe NEC‘s directive, and therefore a party with higher contributions will have more opportunityto influence the electorate. In addition, there is no legislative requirement for equal cost ofadvertisement, and therefore the media could favor a particular party over others.
  43. 43. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 43 of 70Chapter Four: VotersThis chapter focuses on the Venezuelan electoral laws relating to voters. The FDA audit teamgauges these laws according to their equity for voters. This implies an equal value for each votecast, equitable opportunity for voters prior to and during the campaign period and reasonablemeans to take advantage of these opportunities. The FDA acknowledges that absolute equalopportunity is not likely attainable. For example, it is implausible that either government orsociety can ensure that every citizen have the same education, income, intelligence, leisure timeetc. However, the FDA is interested in the overall equity of Venezuelan legislation relating tovoters. Does the legislation promote equity within reasonable bounds? Are there areas of thelegislation that clearly favour certain voters? Table 4 below shows the FDA‘s audit variables,their corresponding audit weights, and results:Table 4Voters SectionVariables% SubsectionAudit WeightNumericalSubsection AuditWeightAuditResults% ResultsBlackout Period 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Value of a Vote 5% 0.5 0.5 100%Freedom of Speech andAssembly20% 2.0 2.0 100%Voter RegistrationRequirements2% 0.2 0.2 100%Voter ElectoralComplaints Process3% 0.3 0.3 100%Voter Protection 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Voter Assistance 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Citizens Living Abroad 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Inclusion of Minorities 2% 0.2 0.2 100%Variables from OtherSections60% 6.0 3.59 59.83%Total 100% 10 8.49 84.9%Blackout PeriodAudit Question1) Is the length of the campaign blackout period reasonable?Legislative ResearchThe state requires election propaganda to cease within 48 hours of Election Day (Election Law,Article 232(2)).
  44. 44. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 44 of 70The state prohibits disclose results of polls or surveys, which aim to present electoral preferencesor voting intentions, seven days prior to Election Day (Election Law, Article 82).Audit FindingsThe Venezuelan electoral process dictates a 48-hour blackout period for election propaganda,and 7-day blackout period on opinions polls and surveys. Using professional judgment andknowledge of other electoral systems, the FDA auditors determine that the Venezuelan blackoutperiods give the electorate sufficient time and space to formulate a clear decision of who to votefor.Value of a VoteAudit Question1) Is the electoral (numerical) value of votes the same for all eligible voters?Legislative ResearchElectors have the right to one vote per election (Election Law, Article 125).Audit FindingThe state allows Venezuelans one vote per person.Freedom of Speech and AssemblyAudit Question1) Does constitutional or legislative law establish freedom of speech and assembly?Legislative ResearchThe state allows for freedom of political thought and expression (Election Law, Principles andRights, Article 72(2)).The state allows communication and information on elections to be free, diverse, plural,accurate, and timely (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(3)).The state supports respect for different ideas, and promotion of tolerance, transparency, andpeaceful coexistence (Election Law, Principles and Rights, Article 72(8)).Every Venezuelan has to right to freedom of thought and expression by any means ofcommunication and diffusion. The law does not tolerate non-anonymity, war propaganda,
  45. 45. Foundation for Democratic Advancement | 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit of Venezuela April 15, 2013 R1 Page 45 of 70discriminatory messages or those promoting religious intolerance (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 57).Communication is free and plural and comes with rights and responsibilities. Every citizen hasthe right to timely, accurate, and impartial information (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Article 58).The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is irrevocably free and independent, basing its values onfreedom, equality, justice, and international peace (Bolivarian Republic of VenezuelaConstitution, Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Freedom is an inherent right of Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Fundamental Principles, Article 1).Venezuela holds political pluralism, liberty, justice, social responsibility, and democracy as someits superior values (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Fundamental Principles,Article 2).The state permits meetings and demonstrations in public places. Organizers must give 24-hournotice for the meeting or demonstration. An alternative day and time may be established if thereis a simultaneous meeting or demonstration taking place. The state does not regulate privatemeetings (Law on Political Parties, Public Meetings and Demonstrations, Articles 36-46).Every citizen has the right to demonstrate peacefully and unarmed (Bolivarian Republic ofVenezuela Constitution, Article 68).Venezuelan people have the power to submit referendum bills to the National Assembly if thepeople in favor of the bill represent at least twenty-five percent of the electors registered.Treaties, conventions or agreements that could compromise national sovereignty or transferpower to supranational bodies, may be submitted to a referendum on the initiative of thePresident of the Republic in Council of Ministers, by the vote of two-thirds or the members ofthe Assembly, or fifteen percent of the voters registered and entered in the civil and voterregistration (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 73).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to wholly or partially repealexisting laws if the people in favor of the referendum have support from at least 10 percent of theregistered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article 74).Venezuelan people have to power to submit referendum bills to abrogate laws issued by thePresident of the Republic under Article 236 if those in favor of the referendum have the supportof at least 5 percent of the registered electors. The validity of referendum requires at least 40percent support from registered electors (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution, Article74).Budget laws including taxation are not subject to referendum nor are laws for protecting,guaranteeing, and developing human rights (Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela Constitution,Article 74).

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