ECJ Spearheads Public Discourse on Party Financing


The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) in collaboration with the Friederich Ebert Stiftung (FES) has launched a public education campaign, to promote a better understanding of the implications of party financing and legal reforms for a strong democratic system.
The campaign started with a public discussion on Thursday, July 3, in Port Antonio.
This initial public forum headlined ‘Campaign Financing for Jamaican Political Parties’ was held at Port Antonio High School. Acting Director of the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), Orrette Fisher, opened the function.
“It is the view of the EOJ that all political parties should be registered with the (Electoral) Commission to contest elections,” Mr. Fisher told JIS News. “All receipts and expenditures should be revealed in full and there should be a limit on the expenditure by all candidates,” he continued.
He said he welcomed the FES funding for the series of meetings, which will be held at four locations throughout Jamaica. In addition to the event in Port Antonio, other public discussions will be held in Montego Bay on July 10, Kingston only July 17 and Mandeville on July 24.
At each forum, a draft of the views of the ECJ will be presented by independent Commissioner, Dorothy Pine-McLarty, with a view to receiving feedback from the public. At the end of the series of discussions, a final document will be presented to Parliament by the Electoral Commission.
The Jamaican Constitution does not now recognize political parties. These public discussions will help to inform future consultations on this subject, according to FES Director for Jamaica and the Caribbean, Judith Wedderburn.
She told JIS News that the discussions on the proper funding of political parties in Jamaica were necessary to maintain and strengthen the democratic process. The system, which operates in Germany, where FES has its origins, allows for funding of political parties by private individuals, but all such contributions are open to public scrutiny, she explained.
“The names and addresses of all contributors are published, along with the amount of each contribution. All contributors get a receipt, and the political parties are subject to audits to make sure that the contributions are used as intended,” she noted.”We need to get a stable and transparent system of financing which will allow the political parties to strengthen the democratic system,” she added.
The specific objectives of the discussions, which are being funded by the FES include: promoting the understanding of existing legislation in the Representation of the People’s Act (RPA) in relation to the recognition of political parties; and facilitating widespread dissemination and public discussions of amendments to the RPA, which have been recommended in relation to the recognition of political parties.
The dialogue also seeks to: facilitate widespread dissemination and discussion of the recommendations in respect of the legislation for campaign financing of political parties in Jamaica; and promote discussions of the wide range of issues relevant to party financing and legislation in relation to political parties in Jamaica.
The Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES) was founded in 1925 as a political legacy of Germany’s first democratically elected President, Friedrich Ebert, in response to his own experience in political confrontation.
The Foundation (Stiftung) was founded with the aims of furthering political and social education of individuals from all walks of life in the spirit of democracy and pluralism, facilitating access to university education and research for gifted young people by providing scholarships, and contributing to international understanding and co-operation.
At one time FES provided funding for bursaries and scholarships to final year students of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at the University of the West Indies (UWI).

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