Money Joins The Dance: Celebration of Democracy in Timor-Leste

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Fundasaun Mahein, 09 July 2012

Money Joins The Dance: Celebration of Democracy in Timor-Leste

Press Release

Fundasaun Mahein (FM) has conducted an analysis and has produced a report titled ‘Money Come Dancing: The Democratic Party’. The report explores the role of money within Timor-Leste’s democratic political implementation process, its relation with the ‘celebration’ of democracy and how political parties use party funds to ‘influence’ votes.

This report’s main argument is that ‘Money Politics’ causes a negative impact on the democratic political process. Evidence for this critique comes from Timor-Leste’s recently held presidential campaign (April 2012) and the National Parliamentary election campaign (June/July 20112). FM understands ‘Money Politics’ as the use of money through political funds, provided by non party members and interested groups, being used in influencing voters. They have identified and used examples within its report, including parties driving voters to campaign rallies, handing out ‘rice boxes’ and promising large economic subsidy policies if they get into power to highlight where ‘Money Politics’ is being used and suggests that parties are using funds as a form of bribery and influence over votes.

The report suggests that there are two sources for party funds and the ways particular parties are using these funds to finance their political campaigns.

First is the use of party funds between the 2007-2012 period and how this was used to finance government development programs through the referendum package(s) that contain millions of dollars. Evidence has also come to light that certain construction projects do not go through the tender process and that these development funds are flowing to colleagues and employers who have a good relationship with the government party.

Secondly, an external source reveals that certain political parties cooperation with other State parties are accused of discussing party cooperation.

Currently, there is no law regulating the practice of using money from outside individuals or groups in political campaigning. CNE, the election monitoring agency, can request any political party and coalition parties must declare to the CNE on the campaign finance laws 03/STAE/X/2011 number of article 32. Other law enforcement agencies such as the CAC and the PGR investigation should follow if there are certain indications that suspicious.

In conclusion, FM fears that the practice of money politics has very dangerous implications for the democratic process and therefore the strengthening of the nation state. FM presents the idea that through money politics, sovereignty is no longer in the hands of the people but the sovereignty in the hands of “money”. The holder of Timor-Leste’s sovereignty is ‘the owner of the money’, whether domestic or international, sovereignty, no longer the Timorese people. FM’s position is that ‘Money politics’ will eventually weaken the democratic process and the strong influence of money is a threat to democracy in Timor-Leste.

FM would like to make the following recommendations:

1. FM recommends that the National Parliament and the government should make laws regulating the practice of money in politics.

2. FM recommends that PGR and the CAC must conduct further investigation and scour the flow of funds to certain political parties.

3. FM recommends that CNE have authority to request from each political party and coalition a declaration of campaign expenses during the campaign period June 5 to July 4.

4. FM recommends that all political parties and coalitions fully cooperate with law enforcement agencies when allocations are made about violations to the law.

For further information regarding this article please contact
Nélson Belo,
Director of Fundasaun Mahein
Tlp +670 737 4222

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