Opportunities for substantial reforms in transparency and accountability are rare. These transformations are often the result of the careful mixture of endless hours of hard work in traditional advocacy, grassroots galvanizing, political will and, of course, a little bit of luck. And right now in Chile, a perfect storm of all these ingredients might be brewing.
A political scandal last year where corporate executives were found to be illegally laundering corporate contributions to political candidates rocked the Latin American country with a reputation for being one of the strongest democracies in the region. The Latin American Legislative Transparency Network has ranked the country among the highest for parliamentary transparency. Chile was also the second-highest ranked Latin American country by Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. With the country’s credibility at stake, President Michelle Bachelet is promising to amend the Constitution to make political financing completely transparent. The political will is here.
Building on the momentum of the scandal, civil society groups have launched advocacy efforts, talking with legislators at a high level to advise them on changes to make political financing more equitable and transparent, as well as litigating against alleged participants in the political finance scandal. They are running campaigns to inform citizens about the changes and involve them in the process. Long hours have been spent advocating for reforms and running grassroots campaigns to ensure that the changes to the political finance bill will have meaningful impact.
Building on this momentum, we want to help support these efforts. The public has a right to information about who contributes to political campaigns, and we are imploring the Chilean government to recognize this right. To support the advocacy efforts of Ciudadano Inteligente, Sunlight is publishing a statement that civil society groups in Chile and around the world can sign on to, urging the Chilean government to adopt transparency measures for political funding.
Now, we are putting out the call for support of this effort — please support Chilean civil society in this push for reform. You or your organization may sign on to this statement by putting your organization’s contact information into the spreadsheet below (you can access it directly here) or by emailing Sunlight’s international team at firstname.lastname@example.org by June 10, 2015. With these combined efforts, we hope that the Chilean government will consider transparency and accountability important pillars of its reforms, putting forth measures that formally recognize the public’s right to information of political funding.