Friday Sep 14, 201204:56 PM GMT
Report cites US as example of world's failing democracies
Fri Sep 14, 2012 4:51PM
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The Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security headed by Kofi Annan

An international commission led by former UN chief Kofi Annan warns that the world's democracies and the United States specifically, are being corrupted by the increasingly strong role of "uncontrolled, undisclosed, illegal and opaque" financing of political campaigns.

 

The report by the commission, staffed with former world leaders and Nobel prize laureates, stipulated that powerful financial institutions and the surging influence of money in politics was harmful to both emerging and more developed democracies across the globe. "The rise of uncontrolled political finance," warned the report, "threatens to hollow out democracy everywhere and rob democracy of its unique strengths".

 

The Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security is presenting its finding in London.

 

Regarding elections in the U.S., the commission's report, Deepening Democracy: a Strategy for Improving the Integrity of Elections Worldwide, took special issue with the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case.

 

Citizens United has "undermined political equality, weakened transparency of the electoral process and shaken citizen confidence in America's political institutions and elections", the report said.

 

According to the Guardian, the report criticizes individual states "which have sought to introduce voter identification laws and other measures that have the effect of suppressing African American participation in the political process." Common Dreams

 

FACTS & FIGURES

 

A national survey this year by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University law school found a majority of Americans believe nominally independent Super PACs to be a danger to democracy. brennancenter.org

 

Nearly two-thirds of Americans said that they trust government less because big donors have more influence over election officials than average Americans do. brennancenter.org

 

Another big flaw of the democratic process in the U.S. is the Electoral Colleges. The American president is not elected directly by the people but by a group of political elite known as the Electoral College.

 

The Electoral College system makes it possible for a candidate to win the presidency without winning the popular vote. There have been four cases where a candidate won the national popular vote only to see someone else walk into the White House.

 

Moreover, studies suggest that larger states are at an advantage under the Electoral College system. Because of the winner-take-all nature of the system, candidates ignore the small states and concentrate their resources on states with the greatest number of electoral votes.

 

AHT/HJ

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