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Sunday 26.01.2020 | Name days: Agneta, Agnis, Ansis
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Lack of funds during pre-elections likely to foster parties’ hidden campaigning

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Sergejs Karitis

Due to the short pre-election period, as well as political parties’ limited funds, residents of Latvia might be subject to hidden political campaigning in media more than ever, Sergejs Karitis, representative of the National Council of Electronic Mass Media (NCEMM), told in an interview to the information portal BNN.

I assume that similar to other elections, this year will also see hidden political campaigning cases. Although it is currently difficult to say whether there will be more such cases than before. However, I do not rule out the possibility that there will be such cases, since now parties have no money for political advertisements, prompting them to use other ways to evade the law. On the other hand – this pre-election period is shorter, so the number of such cases would be similar to the previous election’s data, Karitis says.

At the same time, he also points out that currently the Council is only suspecting cases where the party has allegedly used hidden campaigning to attract the electorate. These cases are three television channels’ broadcast recordings that will be assessed further. For instance, LTV7 showed Aivars Lembergs, prime minister candidate nominated by the Greens and Farmers Union (Zaļo un zemnieku savienība, GFU), fishing. Also, Janis Jurkans, prime minister candidate from Slesers Reform Party (Šlesera Reformu partija, SRP) appeared at one of the regional television stations, while Valters Fridenbergs, member of Zatlers’ Reform Party (Zatlera reformu partija, ZRP) is seen in commercials during TV3 show.

Asked how hidden campaigning cases in the media are being detected, Karitis says it is based on received complaints from residents thinking they have noticed unauthorized advertising. «This is essentially a rather subjective opinion, which depends on how the audience perceives the particular politician’s appearance on the media. Consequently, this calls for Council’s assessment, where the legal and payment factor are also important, based on which it is determined whether an administrative action has to be initiated against the party. The NCEMM is also cooperating with the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) in this assessment,» Karitis says.

The CPCB confirmed to the portal BNN that it is monitoring pre-election campaigning on the media, making sure that parties have paid for their advertisements and have added their expenses to the total allowable budget. If not, these expenditures are included in the sum, which is spent during the pre-election campaigns. In case the statutory amount of financial resources is exceeded, an administrative action is imposed.

However, the CPCB refused to provide information on whether any infringements in parties’ actions have been already detected, indicating that these data will be published in six months, when the study is completed.

While Slesers Reform Party’s LFP/LW representative Girts Dripe indicates in an interview to BNN that he has been informed about the NCEMM’s suspicions of hidden campaigning. However, as long as we do not know exactly which news story the Council is suspecting, it is difficult to carry out an assessment or comment on anything at all. It is hard to track each deputy candidate, so NCEMM’s suspisions are currently only general reproaches. After we obtain the information on the case, it will be possible to assess it, Dripe says.

Asked whether in these elections parties could use more hidden campaigns than before, he concedes that the limited financial resources could encourage such actions. Yet, he adds, however, that SRP – LFP/LW will not engage in such practices.

Yet, no reply was received from the GFU or ZRP during the time the article was prepared.

The information portal BNN already reported that the emergency Saeima elections will take place on September 17, this year.


Leave a reply

  1. Charleigh says:

    I’ll try to put this to good use immdeiaetly.

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