Monitoring Campaign Finances in the 2011 Elections in Argentina

Monitoring Campaign Finances in the 2011 Elections in Argentina

IMPLEMENTING PARTNERS: Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC)
YEAR: 2011
THEME: Elections

Primaries monitoring covered 17 daily hours, from 7 to 24hs, identifying 320 electoral ads per day between August 5th and 11th with a total of 2.240 ads (61.982 seconds). General elections monitoring covered two periods:  October 5th till October 9th and October 14th till October 21st (covering the first day of electoral prohibition period before general elections day). These two weeks monitoring registered 3.567 ads (120.408 seconds).

Traditional electoral ads registered during the monitored period match the total time and time by media officially distributed by the Dirección Nacional Electoral (considering the sampling error in the study). The general conclusion is that broadcast space distribution and spots broadcasting by the media during the monitored periods respected the criteria established by national Law 26.571. Since 50% of the broadcast spaces were distributed proportionally to  each party´s prior electoral performance, Frente para la Victoria (the incumbent party) had the largest presence in the media with 1 out of each 5 seconds of ads broadcasted, followed by UDESO, Coalición Cívica, Proyecto Sur, Frente Amplio Progresista, Frente de Izquierda and Unión Popular.

The evidence produced by the monitoring also shows that parties made no systematic efforts to by-pass the new prohibition to buy broadcast spaces. The monitoring team only registered 6 cases of non-traditional advertising before primaries and 21 before general elections, 15 of which concentrated in the week immediately preceding general elections day. These incidents consisted mainly of people with flags or T-shirts promoting a candidate.

The total time of official advertising broadcasted on radio and TV during the monitored period was not significant when compared to electoral ads. Official advertising broadcasted during primaries campaign represents 6.7% of total seconds of electoral ads broadcasted on media spaces regulated by decree 445 (non traditional advertising excluded). During the general elections campaign, the percentage raises to 8.2. The monitoring shows that 90% of official advertising broadcasted on open TV corresponded to national government agencies. These official advertising spaces include ads aimed at informing the public on primary elections, ads containing institutional publicity, but also some pieces promoting public works and programs (that is to say highlighting government actions and achievements). The monitoring also found that Governments of the City of Buenos Aires, and the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, San Luis, Santiago del Estero and Santa Cruz used official advertising with electoral purposes as well.

Monitoring registered 161 official advertising between August 5th and 11th. Friday August 12th (electoral prohibition period) 15 official ads were identified. During the two monitoring weeks for general elections campaign we identified 249 official advertising. Friday October 21st 21 (electoral prohibition period) official ads were registered. It is worth mentioning that National Electoral Code Law N° 19.945 (article 64 quáter) is not clear about what it is considered official advertising. For this reason, incumbents of all government levels use and abuse of this type of advertising without disciplinary measures.

In the same sense, article 64 quáter prohibits inaugurating public works and acts (suspected to try to catch votes) 15 days before elections day. However and again, law is vague and for this reason, incumbents of all governmental levels use and abuse of inaugurations before elections.

Although printed press is not regulated by law 26.571 as TV and radio are, the monitoring also covered national and some provincial newspapers. Relative importance of graphic electoral ads was measured by surface covered (cm2) by ads in newspapers.

Results show 51 ads were registered during primaries campaign, which 84% of cm2 correspond to opposition parties and candidates. Clearly, the new prohibition to buy television and radio broadcast spaces made opposition parties turn to printed media for private advertising as an strategy to compensate the advantage incumbent candidates have because of the lack of regulation of official advertising. 51 ads were identified during general elections campaign monitoring explained by the descending on the amount of ads in the two main national newspapers, Clarín and La Nación. In this campaign, Frente para la Victoria advertised more in printed press than for primaries campaign.

Although monitoring centered in national candidates (for the categories of President and Vicepresident, National Representatives and National Senators), we registered cases in which ads promoting provincial and local candidates also made reference to national candidates. We identified 49 of these ads in the primaries campaign, most of them by Partido Nuevo Encuentro (Martín Sabatella) and mentioning Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.  In the case of the general elections campaign, we identified 249 of this kind of ads, most of them by UDESO (presidential candidate Raul Alfonsín´s party) and Frente Amplio Progresista (presidential candidate Hermes Binner´s party).

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