The Regulation of Electoral Campaigns
The High Authority for Audiovisual Media and Written Press (HAPA)
Ordinance 2006-034, which creates the High Authority for Audiovisual Media and the Press (HAPA), allowed Mauritania to have an institution for the regulation of public and private media for the first time. This ordinance was abrogated and replaced by Law 2012-018 of February 28, 2012.
HAPA is an independent administrative institution with financial autonomy and a mandate to oversee the enforcement of the legislation regulating the media. Its mandate is also to guarantee the equal treatment of media entrepreneurs.
HAPA defines the rules for the free access of political parties to public media during electoral campaigns. The parties were allocated broadcasting time proportional to the number of lists of candidates they had in municipal, legislative, and presidential elections. During the last municipal and legislative elections, the free access of candidates to public media was generally respected. HAPA received very few complaints in this respect. During the electoral campaign for the 2007 and 2009 presidential elections, HAPA’s role was to provide candidates with free broadcasting time and to ensure that all competing candidates benefited from balanced media coverage.
Although HAPA was successful in providing equal and balanced access to candidates, it failed to adjudicate their recourses. Regarding the National Television’s poor quality of images and denial of coverage in some instances, HAPA adopted the role of a broker between the claimants and the National Television, rather than an authority with the power to adjudicate disputes and sanction those culpable.
Today, two important objectives have been met through reforms of the regulations governing the media. The liberalization of the audiovisual sector and the allocation of subsidies to private media have begun. State subsidies provided to private newspaper businesses are vital for the survival and sustainability of the various dailies found in the country. It allows media companies to modernize their equipment and pay training costs for journalists. Law 2012-018 also mandates that HAPA approves the appointment of the Director of the State Radio and State Television companies by a relative majority of its voting members. If HAPA does not ratify the nominations, the relevant authorities appoint new candidates who will go through the same ratification process.
Regulation of electoral campaigns
The legislation governing the funding of political activities was broadened in 2006 with the adoption of a set of laws aimed at creating a system of control over electoral campaign activities. Signed into law on the eve of the electoral campaign of the 2006 municipal and legislative elections, Ordinance 2006-035 of November 2, 2006 determines the conditions under which electoral campaigns are funded. It also determines authorized funding sources, the capping of campaign expenditures, accounting and auditing rules, and the sanctions to be applied in case of violation of the laws. Candidates also must meet obligations of transparency in the management of their campaign activities. The ordinance mandates that candidates must appoint a financial representative who will operate a single banking account centralizing all financial operations. The candidate’s accounting books must also record all revenues and expenses during his/her campaign. The law has provisions creating regional auditing committees for local elections and a national auditing committee, each of which verify the regularity of campaign accounts and, if necessary, refer violations to the prosecutor. Candidates are liable to criminal prosecution for all violations of the law. On November 10, 2006, after the official launching of the electoral campaign for municipal and legislative elections, a decree was issued to determine the maximum amounts that can be spent during electoral campaigns. These amounts ranged from 2 million ouguiyas (about 5,500 euros) for rural municipality local elections, to 10 million ouguiyas per Moughataa (sub region) for legislative and presidential elections.
While this law is a step forward, it remains the case that there is no mechanism in place to verify the amounts spent on electoral campaigns. The audit committees have not been created, and campaign expenses have not been monitored or checked. The inequality of means available to candidates remains a serious preoccupation; government authorities, so far, have been hiding behind the complexity of putting in place an auditing mechanism, and thus have left the issue unsolved.
State subsidies to political parties
Law 2012-024 of February 28, 2012 grants financial aid to political parties, the amount of which is included in the state budget. The aid is distributed as follows:
- a first disbursement representing 40% of total funds are allocated to parties or coalitions of parties having obtained at least 1% of cast ballots at the national level in the first round of the most recent general municipal elections
- a second disbursement representing 60% of funds is allocated to parties or coalition of parties, proportionally after the first round of the most recent general municipal elections
The amount allocated to each political party or coalition of parties during the second disbursement of state funds is obtained by, first, eliminating all blank votes, and then dividing the amount of the funds by the number of votes cast nationally. This quotient is then multiplied by the number of votes given to each party or coalition of parties.
Electoral rallies and propaganda
Law 2012-027 that created the CENI (National Independent Electoral Commission) gives the institution important powers over the regulation and supervision of electoral campaigns. The new CENI cooperates with all parties to ensure the proper conduct of electoral campaigns. To this effect, at least five days before the start of the electoral campaigns (which last 15 days before the election), each candidate or list of candidates must provide the CENI chapter of their geographic area with their campaign program for the total duration of the campaign. They must also inform local administrative authorities of their campaigning program.
The CENI and the local administrative authority acknowledge receipt of the campaigning programs separately and, at least two days before the start of the campaign, they must inform the candidate or lists of candidates or their duly appointed representatives of possible reservations they might have about the campaigning program they have submitted. The CENI and local administrative authorities provide support to political parties for the good conduct of their electoral campaigns. The representative of each candidate or list of candidates coordinates with the CENI and local administrative authorities regarding all activities relating to the electoral campaign.
Administrative authorities must be notified of all electoral meetings before they are held. The notification must provide the domicile and names of the meeting’s organizers. It must also indicate the aim, place, date, and time of the meeting. Local administrative authorities acknowledge the receipt of the notifications and inform the CENI.
The CENI, if necessary, consults with relevant authorities to ensure equal access of candidates or lists of candidates to public media and, to this effect, may send observations or recommendations to relevant authorities.
Useful links and documentary resources
- Décret n° 91-140 du 13 novembre 1991 fixant les modalités de la campagne électorale et des opérations de vote pour les élections présidentielles modifié
- Décret n° 2009-106 du 07 avril 2009 portant modification de l’article 24 du décret n° 86-130 du 13 aout 1986 fixant les modalités de la campagne électorale et des opérations de vote.
- Décret n°2012-278 du 17 décembre 2012 fixant les modalités de la campagne électorale et des opérations de vote pour les élections présidentielles
- Décret n° 91-141 du 13 novembre 1991 fixant les modalités du déroulement de la campagne électorale et précisant l’organisation matérielle des élections des députés à l’Assemblée nationale.
- Décret n° 130-86 du 13 août 1986 fixant les modalités de la campagne électorale et des opérations de vote.
- Décret n° 2006-46 PM/MIPT du 24 mai 2006 modifiant, complétant ou abrogeant certaines dispositions du décret 86-130 du 13 août 1986 fixant les modalités de la campagne électorale et les opérations de vote.
- Ordonnance n° 91-024 du 25 juillet 1991 relative aux partis politiques
- Loi n° 2001-30 du 07 février 2001relative au financement des partis politiques
- Ordonnance n° 2006-30 du 22 août 2006 modifiant et complétant la loi 2001-30 du 07 février 2001 relative au financement des partis politiques
- Ordonnance n° 2006-035 Relatif au financement des campagnes électorales
- Décret n° 2006-113 / PM/ MIPT fixant les plafonds du financement des campagnes électorales
- Loi n° 2012-024 du 28 février 2012 modifiant certaines dispositions de l’ordonnance n° 91-024 du 25 juillet 1991, modifiée, relative aux partis politiques