The perception of integrity and honesty in government is shaped, in many instances, by the nature of the electoral process. When campaign practices operate with a high degree of unethical behaviour, or in other words "mudslinging," confidence in government administration wanes. Therefore, many local governments have established ethical or fair campaign practices laws. These laws generally include prohibitions against publishing untrue and malicious statements about another candidate and their family, wilfully damaging campaign material and obtaining another’s campaign property. Many of these laws also codify disclosure requirements of campaign contributions and other types of financial support.
To ensure that candidates stay focused on the issues and not sully the election process with personal attacks.
To establish mechanisms to publicise the goals and positions of the candidates.
To encourage debates so that more information is easily accessed and available.
To disclose how candidates are funding campaigns and who the contributors are.
To provide meaningful opportunities for citizen participation in the election process.
To deter political campaigning in and misuse of administrative and other apolitical governmental entities by employees and other officials.
Linkage to Transparency
Ethical or fair campaigning on the surface may not seem like fundamental aspect of a transparent government. However, when the citizenry "tunes out" of the election process, the apathy transcends into other administrative arenas. Ethical campaign practices laws create a transparent and open environment whereby a community has information about a potential elected official’s policy positions, contributors and how or if such support may affect voting record.
Issue-focused campaigns, where ethical debates are encouraged, genuinely create avenues of access and accountability. Citizens become more engaged, demand information and promote an active civic culture. Candidates and elected officials, therefore, know that their campaign books, voting records and other various programmes are subject for inspection and publication. Recent surveys/public opinion polls conducted in the United States [there may also be some reflecting international opinion] indicate that the nature of elections, the way candidates behave and conduct their campaigns directly affects voter turnout. Further data also reveals that when campaigns are negative, fewer people participate and take interest in local governance issues thereby negatively impacting transparency in government.
How it Works – The Key Elements
Institute training forums for candidates.
Collaborate with civic and business groups to sponsor debates and issue-focused forums.
Coordinate intergovernmental support that will monitor, audit and enforce ethical campaign statements.
Encourage activism by the media and other news groups to publish names of candidates who pledge to run ethical campaigns.
Santa Clara, California - Ethical Campaigning is Possible
Promoting Ethical Campaign Practices in Azerbaijan through an Election Administration Programme
Further information and contacts
Developing and Managing Professional Codes of Ethics: Resource Guide for Professional Associations Contributing to Good Local Governance. UN-HABITAT, Nairobi
P.O. Box 30030, 00100
Santa Clara, USA
Carol McCarthy, Deputy City Manager,
City of Santa Clara, California, USA.
30 Bul-Bul Avenue, Office 57, Third Floor, Baku 370000, Azerbaijan.
Tel: +994-12-984420, 988490, 984307; Fax: +994-12-984306