International IDEA and challenges to electoral processes
2012 is an important year for democracy and elections in Latin America and around the world.
Throughout the Arab region, citizens continue to reaffirm that democracy is a universally-held and powerful human aspiration. Their demands for dignity, self-expression and participation in decision-making now need to be translated into sustainable democracy, benefitting all citizens. Many countries in the region are struggling with the need for credible electoral processes, new constitutional arrangements and legitimate political institutions. In Syria, those who demand more participation in decision-making are still met with brutality and the government remains unresponsive to their calls for change.
2012 will be an important year for elections in Latin America and the Caribbean - with Presidential elections in the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Venezuela; legislative elections in El Salvador and Mexico; and municipal elections in Brazil and Chile, among others. In the United States, there is intense focus is on the Presidential and legislative elections scheduled for November 2012. Hand-in-hand with this electoral activity is a picture of discontent and pessimism among citizens of Latin America, in which support for democracy fell 3 points compared to 2010 (Latinobarometro 2011 data). Central America faces particular challenges in relation to exclusion, poverty and inequality combined with weak institutions. Read Complete article
The General Election Planof the Electoral Tribunalof Panama
Eduardo Valdés Escoffery
The actions of the Electoral Tribunal are based on the pursuit of electoral excellence through education, training and ongoing technological innovation in order to provide efficient services to its users towards the improvement and strengthening of democracy, which consolidates it as the institution guarantor of freedom, honesty and efficiency of suffrage in Panama.
Given the great responsibility of TE framed under the rule of law, subject to compliance with the Constitution and the Law, there is the need for an innovative tool for planning, monitoring, control and evaluation of the electoral process in Panama. This instrument is the General Election Plan (PLAGEL) built by a team of collaborators that makes it possible to hold pure and transparent elections as a result of the mystical work nationally and internationally recognized. Read complete article
The Guest Pen / Parallel Constituent
Guillermo Márquez Amado
Once the Forum for Consensus meetings ended, which attempted for more than six months to review, consider, and harmonize texts of proposals prepared by the representations of the most diverse civil society organizations and national political parties to make amendments to the Constitution, and such work was delivered to the President, it is now time to consider in detail amending the Constitution through the procedures established for this purpose.
Such procedures are explicitly provided for in the Constitution in Articles 313 and 314 and, if we discard the initiatives arising within the National Assembly, only two immediate alternatives are left: a) the approval of a constitutional reform by initiative of the Judicial Branch proposed to the Legislative, which is not the case, or b) the approval of a constitutional reform by an initiative proposed by the Executive Branch to the Legislative Branch. Read complete article
Erasmo Pinilla C.
For this fourteenth edition of Electoral World, we are honored to have in the cover Dr. Vidar Helgesen, Secretary General of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), established in 1995 with the mission to support sustainable democracy worldwide. This is the only intergovernmental organization with the sole mandate to support democracy. For this issue, Dr. Helgesen provides a summary of the work done by this organization, showing that proper management of elections is vital for democracy.
We also highlight the cooperation of the director of the Division of Elections and Referendums in the Secretariat of the Venice Commission (Council of Europe), Pierre Garrone, with a summary of the General Records of the Council of Europe in the field of electoral law and national minorities.
Electoral law and national minorities. The work of the council of europe’s venice commission
The issue of national minorities has been central for the Council of Europe since the fall of the Berlin wall. This issue, the importance of which is generally higher in the Eastern than in the Western part of the continent, had been forgotten during the time of “real socialism”, however the issue of the multi-national state was put on the table in a brutal way when the war broke out in Yugoslavia. Fortunately, in most instances, it has been settled in a more peaceful way, even if all conflicts have not been put to an end.
The Council of Europe’s work in this field led in particular to the adoption of two international treaties, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages² and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. ³ Whereas the former, as is clear from its title, focuses on language issues, the latter is much more general. It has been ratified by 39 out of 47 member states, the main exceptions being Belgium, France, Greece and Turkey. Read complete article