Opinion: Campaign reform

POSTED: 09/20/13 11:26 AM

The noise parliamentarians – or rather: one parliamentarian – has been making about campaign reform creates the impression that this time the parliament is ready to act. Don’t hold your breath.

The MP that stirred up the reform nest is Independent Frans Richardson. As these things go in our parliament, at least one MP on the other side of the aisle – in the case Johan Leonard – could not control himself and he went on a rant against Richardson.
“Nobody bought as many votes as he did,” Leonard managed to say and while Richardson went for his microphone, he hastily added – two or three times for good measure – “I did not mention any names.”

Leonard apparently has conveniently forgotten that a couple of police officers sold their vote before the 2010 elections. The buyer in this case was the Leonard’s United People’s party. That the National Detective agency did not bother to investigate this voting fraud does not mean it did not happen. The prosecutor’s office received a report about the case from the police force on a silver platter, but apparently it was too hot to handle.
Dragging the police officers to court over selling their votes is apparently one thing but grabbing the buyer at the same time – that would have been UP-leader Theo Heyliger – is quite something else. So all that did not happen.

Politicians use such information to scream blue murder for one reason only: as long as they scream blue murder everybody forgets that it is indeed about time to do something about these practices.

So let us consider the 2010 vote buying affair old hat and move on towards a better future. In the field of buying votes there is probably no one with an entirely clean record, which has always made us wonder what the point is. If everybody is buying votes, the net result is the same as in a situation whereby nobody buys votes.

To lift the discussion to a more useful level, all political parties would do well to read the national ordinance that regulates their very existence. Political parties have to file financial reports. Has any party ever done that? Has anybody ever seen such a report?
They also have to stick to certain rules as far as accepting gifts is concerned. How this goes down should also become apparent from these financial reports.
The thing with this noise about “reform” is that a lot has already been regulated formally, but if those rules are not put to good use they are not worth the paper they are printed on.

With the elections now less than twelve months away, the discussion will probably get louder and louder, but sound levels have never contributed anything to the value of arguments. It is about time to change that by turning down the volume and by bringing real and sensible arguments to the party.

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