New Delhi: The two-day conference jointly held with the Election Commission of India, International IDEA and India International Institute of Democracy and Election Management (IIIDEM) on “Money in Politics and Effects on People’s Representation” here concluded on Wednesday.
The conference was jointly inaugurated by Dr Nasim Zaidi – Chief Election Commissioner of India and Yves Leterme – former prime minister of Belgium and Secretary General of International IDEA.
Representatives of member countries from SAARC and political party representatives from India and policy makers from abroad came forward together and laid out a draft declaration towards the end of the session. The draft included recommendations on political finance regulations, how to close loopholes in the regulatory framework and coordinating efforts with all stakeholders.
The former PM of Belgium Yves Leterme opened the doors for discussion in his welcome speech by laying serious concerns; he quoted “The question of money’s negative influence over politics is as pressing as ever. Why? Because it threatens the very foundations of democracies. Money seeps into the political process on many levels, tainting everything from party financing to campaign donations and candidate expenses. Problems include, amongst others, incumbents abusing state funds; criminal money influencing decision-makers; and small groups of oligarchs, wealthy individuals or large corporations “hijacking” politics via donations. This dialogue and the draft declaration will help to create a concrete framework for all the participating nations to consider”.
Yusmadi Yusoff, the former MP from Malaysia raised concern on how Asian countries are experiencing a commercialisation of politics and a sense of rising costs for campaigning.
The former Chief Election Commissioner Dr SY Quraishi commented “I am happy that the conference has adopted the ‘New Delhi Declaration’ on the Guiding principles on Political Finance Regulation. These guidelines may prove to be a benchmark in checking the abuse of money in elections which is vitiating democracy in different parts of the world.”