Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Freedom and Democracy (Part 2)

FDA podcast series #3 "Freedom and Democracy" (Part 2)

In this podcast with reference to the FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Reports, a five person FDA podcast team discusses the French Enlightenment, Simon Bolivar, modern Venezuelan democracy, and Bolivian democracy under Morales, in an attempt to come to a closer understanding of an optimal democracy. 

FDA Freedom and Democracy (Part 2)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

FDA Report on Bolivia's Democracy

Executive Summary: Bolivia received an overall score of 78.75 percent for electoral fairness. The scores means that the constitutional and legislative basis for Bolivian democracy is on the border of outstanding. The Bolivian electoral system has many progressive elements such civic and indigenous organizations have the same rights as political parties, and TV and radio markets are divided equally between private interest, government, and social and indigenous organizations. Also, there are caps on electoral propaganda on TV and radio, and only registered political organizations can produce election propaganda. However, the lack of caps on donations and candidate and party spending may favor wealthy candidates and parties through lack of caps on poster and billboard election propaganda and campaign events. Further, the progressive law for immediate removal of electoral advertisement and/or news in case of a claim of inaccuracy, for example, can undermine the electoral process by encouraging less than credible claims.

 2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Bolivia

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bolivia Scores High in the FDA Global Electoral Fairness Audit

An eleven person FDA audit team gave Bolivia an overall score of 78.75 percent for electoral fairness. The score means that the Bolivian national electoral system is significantly more fair than unfair. Bolivia scores highest in the fairness and equality of voter say (86.6 percent), followed by political content of media (80 percent), electoral finance (79 percent) and candidate and party influence (69 percent).

Bolivia ranks 3rd in the FDA global audit on electoral fairness, behind Venezuela at 85 percent and France at 91.75 percent.

The FDA electoral fairness report on Bolivia will be published by August 30th.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Assad addresses the Syrian people

The FDA is closely monitoring the situation in Syria, and will be doing to comparative study on constitutional changes in the country. Moreover, on Tuesday, the FDA will be interviewing a Syrian dissident located in London, which will be uploaded to the FDA itunes page. 

Assad speech

FDA Report on Syria

Friday, August 19, 2011

Bahrain: Systematic Annihilation of Opposition

The Bahrain monarchy continues its assault on protesters, in a most systematic, calculated fashion. Where are the cries of democracy from Western governments??? Selective support of protesters means less than genuine interest in the people and democracy. 

systematic annihilation of opposition

FDA Report on Bahrain

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

Harper Government fueling Israel/Palestine Conflict





Syrians Protests--People's Voice--


Chileans Fight for Right to Education

Turkey Government Postpones Internet Censoring

FDA Helping to Encourage Democratic Advancement

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FDA Report on Syria

Conservative's government pr push for dirty crude consumption

Interesting article on the Conservative government's promotion of the tar sands, and the US politics involved....  Again a disconnect is being shown between government and the people.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/aug/14/canada-tar-sands-keystonexl


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Haper government snubs Cuba, Venezuela, Bolvia etc.,

Harper government shows that ideology and arrogance guide them as they snub countries that don't fit the neo-liberalism mold.

Haper ignores countries

Neoliberalism blamed for UK riots

Interesting article which suggests that the increasing separation between the have and have not via the capitalistic system, is undermining democracy:

failure of neoliberalism

Friday, August 12, 2011

FDA Research on Norwegian Democracy

The FDA research on Norwegian democracy is posted:

FDA Norway Research

A team of FDA auditors will audit Norwegian democracy on Tuesday, August 16th. Based on the research results alone, Norwegian democracy appears to be very progressive and democratic.

A FDA report on Norway will be produced by August 19th.

What Canadians Should Know About Harper and the Conservatives

Two weeks prior to the 2011 federal election, the Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA) produced a non-partisan 226 page audit report on all federal registered political parties with a national platform barring the Bloc Québécois. The FDA electoral audit focused on a detailed background audit of the party leaders, audit of the visions and policies of the parties, and audit of the incumbency record of the Conservative Party. The nine-person audit team was diverse in terms of profession, gender, age and ethnicity.

The Conservative Party placed eighth out of twelve registered political parties, with an overall failing score of 43.8 percent (out of 100 percent). The FDA concluded that the Conservatives were worthy of insignificant representation (15 seats maximum) in the Canadian Parliament.   

In the federal election, the Conservative Party received a large majority (167 seats) based on 39.6 percent support from those Canadians who voted, and only 24.3 percent support from Canadian voters overall, including Canadians who did not vote.  (167 seats out of 308 seats equals 54.2 percent)

In 2011 as well the FDA conducted an electoral fairness audit of the Canadian federal electoral system, in which Canada received a 25.75 percent grade (out of 100 per cent) for electoral fairness. (To put this score in context, the US received a 30 percent score, Finland a 40.75 percent score, and France a 91.75 percent score.)  

The FDA concludes that if the Canadian electoral system was significantly more fair, the Conservatives would not have attained a minority government let alone a majority government. A more fair Canadian electoral system based on an equal playing field for registered political parties in terms of electoral finances, media access, and impartial media would have created a balanced, equitable Canadian electoral discourse, and thereby expanded Canadian electoral choice. In the FDA’s opinion, the Conservative majority is representative of an unfair democratic system (as documented in the FDA’s electoral fairness report), and a resulting misinformed and uninformed Canadian public, rather than the popularity of the Conservative party.

A summary of the FDA’s non-partisan electoral findings on Harper and the Conservative Party are as follows:

Background of Harper:  

59 percent score for suitability of being prime minister of Canada. The low score is reflective of Mr. Harper’s professional experience that entails brief work in the Alberta oil patch as a computer programmer and reporting for three major newspapers. Also, the FDA auditors found no evidence that Mr. Harper has ever volunteered. (The FDA uses volunteer experience as an indicator of commitment to public service.) The 59 percent score is reflective of Mr. Harper having an MA in Economics, 18 years political experience including prime minister in a minority government, and living his entire life in Canada. (In contrast and as an example, Elizabeth May received a score of 84 percent for very strong academic and professional backgrounds, 31 years of political experience, and 41 years of volunteer and activist experience.) 

Vision of the Conservative Party: 

40 percent score. The Conservative Party’s vision for Canada is restricted to the short-term, with emphasis on economic recovery, elimination of debt, and low taxes. The Conservatives’ vision statement is devoid of any vision of an ideal Canada or a Canada worth striving for (or at least a long-term vision the Conservatives are willing to share publicly).   

Incumbency Record of the Conservative Party: 

30 percent score. In the FDA’s opinion, the Conservative Party did not uphold Canadian values in their last term: as example, at the 2010 CITIES forum on endangered marine life the Conservatives blocked international attempts to protect the endangered polar bear (viz., the polar bear has become a universal, emotional symbol of the decline of northern regions; Canada has an established history of wildlife conservation starting with famous Canadians like Grey Owl); the Conservatives got Canada further embroiled in military conflicts in Afghanistan and Libya (when Canada could have abstained from direct participation like Germany in the case of Libya and the Netherlands which withdrew early from Afghanistan); the Conservatives did not secure the removal of its citizens from Guantanamo Bay unlike every other western country; and the Conservatives did not acknowledge publicly the Palestinians' right to their own state (viz., self-determination is a fundamental democratic right, which is enshrined in Article 1 of the UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “All peoples have the right of self-determination…” Also, the 30% percent score reflects that the Conservative Party did not balance the federal budget, changed their position on the income trust tax, and increased Canadian overall debt. Furthermore, the FDA auditors think that the Bank of Canada had a larger role than the Conservative Party in guiding the country through the recent recession.  

Policies of the Conservative Party:  

Economy:  

80 percent score. In the FDA’s opinion, the Conservative policies are sound, comprehensive, relevant, and apply to all sectors of the Canadian economy. 

Taxes:  

70 percent score. The Conservative policies are comprehensive and relevant, and cover a range of tax credits with no increase in taxation. The FDA auditors question how the Conservative Party can balance the federal budget in four years without slashing significantly government programs.  

Energy:  

20 percent score. The Conservative policies are extremely narrow and vague, with only specifics on the ecoEnergy Retrofit-Homes Program and development of Quebec’s offshore resources. There is no direct mention of the Alberta tar sands and nuclear energy, and the Conservatives provide no specifics on “clean energies” (as opposed to renewable energies).

Environment: 

20 percent score. The Conservative policies lack progressive and practical vision, and they are contradictory by promoting more intrusion into the environment via more snowmobile trails and increasing landowner rights. The score of 20 per cent is reflective of the Conservative Party’s pledge to create two new national parks, while major environmental issues such as the endangerment of northern wildlife, global warming, nuclear waste, alternative means of transportation such as the electric car, depletion of fish stocks, contamination of lakes, bulk water exports, and oil and gas development in ecologically-sensitive areas are ignored and even promoted as is the case with the proposed Northern Gateway Oil and Condensate pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia. 

Education:  

30 percent score. The Conservative policies lack passion for education and demonstrate no investment in the future of education. The Conservative Party does not address a number of educational issues such as increasing post-secondary tuition fees and recruitment of teachers. 

Health: 

20 percent score.  The Conservative Party health policies lack vision and relevance in dealing with Canada’s health care issues. There are no stated policies which address the increasing costs of prescription drugs and universal healthcare. However, the Conservatives support more doctors in rural areas and a commitment to deal with increasing wait times. 

Arts and Culture: 

10 percent score. The Conservative Party’s arts and culture policies are extremely vague and demonstrate a lack of interest and support for arts and culture. Moreover, the Conservatives do not mention their policy for the CBC. The score of 10 per cent reflects the Conservative support for the RC of Music national examination system and Canadian Periodical Fund. 

Domestic Security: 

60 percent score. The Conservative Party takes a top-down and power-oriented approach to crime. In the FDA’s opinion, the Conservatives do not understand the complexity of crime and its underlying sources. Moreover, the Conservative proposed terrorism laws threaten Canadian civil liberties. The 60 per cent score is based on the comprehensiveness of the Conservative surcharge policy for victims of crime.  

Foreign Affairs: 

60 percent score. The Conservative Party’s foreign policy is comprehensive and relevant with an emphasis on building the strength of the Canadian military. This policy likely shifts Canada into a more aggressive foreign military role which may not be in the better interest of Canadians. Also, the Conservatives do not address a number of foreign affair issues such as international aid, Middle East conflicts and revolutions, and the proliferation of nuclear arms. 

Democracy Reform: 

20 percent score. Though the Conservatives propose progressive reform of the Senate and elimination of party subsidies, they do not address significant electoral unfairness issues in the federal electoral system like partisan public and private media and severe inequality in electoral finance and broadcast laws. There is no demonstrated intent by the Conservatives to make the federal election system more equal and fair for all registered political parties, and thereby more democratic. 

Miscellaneous: 

60 percent score. The Conservative Party has very sound, progressive policies on First Nations transparency and fair regional representation in the House of Commons. Yet, at the same time, the Conservative are committed to using Canadian tax dollars to build a holocaust memorial (for the victims of the holocaust) and a communist memorial (for the victims of communism). 

In the FDA’s opinion based on its research and audit findings, Harper and the Conservative Party are unworthy of a majority government, and the fact that they received a majority is symptomatic of a flawed electoral system (due significant electoral inequality and unfairness) and the human factor through Liberals and Conservatives who over the last three decades have created the current electoral laws and regulations.

As indicated by the Conservative Party’s mediocrity (in the FDA’s opinion) and their majority government, a renewal and redirection of Canada’s democracy is necessary through both significant system reform and new representatives who are truly reflective of the will of Canadians as a whole.

Stephen Garvey is founder and executive director of the Foundation for Democratic Advancement.




Thursday, August 11, 2011

UK government battles its own people

Conservative PM Cameron for the UK announces new measures to combat public riots, such as social networking restrictions, curfews, and ban on face masks.

Are there larger issues in the UK, such as a disconnect between the people and government, inequality, and freedoms favoring minority groups?

Cameroon recently said that multiculturalism is a failure. What does this statement mean to the 7 million plus immigrants living in the UK?

Unemployment levels in the UK are presently at 7.7%.

As part of the FDA global electoral fairness audit, in late August, the FDA will be looking at the fairness of the UK electoral system.

Cameron's hard line 

UK Riots Fourth Day 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

FDA Podcast: Freedom and Democracy (Part 1)

Summary: In this month's podcast and with reference to the FDA's electoral fairness audit reports on 22 countries, an eight-person FDA team discusses freedom and democracy from philosophical, constitutional, and historical perspectives. Also, FDA members discuss the modern day usage of freedom and democracy, partly in relation to the G.W.Bush and Obama governments' foreign policies. For non-mainsteam, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in:

FDA Freedom and Democracy Podcast

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Insightful documentary on the Bahrain upraising....


The FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Bahrain correlates with the brutal crackdown by the Bahraini authoritarian monarchy.The hypocrisy of western governments in ignoring the cry of the Bahraini people is inconsistent with western values, and demonstrate that western political systems are failing to produce representatives who truly represent the people. It must be remembered that western governments have supported Middle Eastern authoritarian and totalitarian regimes for decades and still do as is the case, for example, with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen.

2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Bahrain

Friday, August 5, 2011

Saudi Arabia--2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report

Executive Summary: Saudi Arabia received a failing overall score of 0 percent for electoral fairness. The score means that the constitutional and legislative basis for Saudi Arabia's political system is completely unfair. Although there are elections in Saudi Arabia at the municipal level of government, they are irregular, and women are not permitted to participate as either voters or candidates. Also, the elected members of the 178 municipalities are offset by an equal portion of unelected members of the municipalities. Further, the municipalities have no power over the Saudi king and the executive and consultative branches of government. Underlying this political framework is the dominance of Islam and Sharia law as determined by the Sharia Religious Council, and whereby political parties are banned. The FDA auditors could find no element of electoral fairness in Saudi Arabia, and concluded that a country directed and guided by Islam and Sharia law is inconsistent fundamentally with democracy. The will of the people is replaced by the will of God as determined by the Saudi Sharia Council and the Saudi king and his royal family.

2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Saudi Arabia

New Zealand--2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report

Executive Summary: New Zealand received an overall score of 54.75 percent for electoral fairness. The score means that New Zealand's constitutional and legislative basis for its democracy is unacceptable. Despite many elements of fairness such as the distribution of public electoral monies based on popular support and proportional electoral mechanisms, New Zealand has extreme unfairness in laws and regulations on the media's and broadcaster's political content. Private media and broadcasters have no restrictions on their political content, and the state broadcaster (TVNZ) and radio (RNZ) were privatized on July 12, 2011. The political content issue impacted negatively the other electoral fairness sections. New Zealand needs to progress beyond unrestricted freedom of the media to restrictions on the freedom of the media in order to promote democratic plurality (like in France) and complete and balanced electoral coverage (like in Venezuela).
 
2011 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on New Zealand

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

New Zealand receives a 54.75 percent score for electoral fairness, and Saudi Arabia receives a 0 percent score for electoral fairness

On August 2nd, an eight-person audit team audited New Zealand and Saudi Arabia as part of the FDA global electoral fairness audit.

New Zealand received a passing overall score of 54.74 percent. The low score is reflective of the lack of restrictions on the political content of New Zealand media and broadcasters coupled with the July 12th, 2011 privatization of the public national broadcaster and radio.

Saudi Arabia received a failing score of 0 percent. The score is reflective of complete electoral unfairness, whereby the Saudi king and his royal family control the country through Islam and Sharia law.

The FDA Saudi Arabia and New Zealand reports will published on August 5th.