In the run-up to the general elections in September NIMD has published the state of affairs of the political parties in Guatemala and the main developments in the political system since 2003.
The Monography of Political Parties in Guatemala 2004-2007 provides a description of each of the 21 legally registered parties and information about the development of the political party process parties during the current democratization process, which initiated in the mid 80s.
NIMD and ASIES (Association of Investigation and Social Studies) published this overview of the political landscape one month before the general elections on 9 September 2007 to contribute to the electoral analysis and debate. This is the third update since 2003, when NIMD started to systematically monitor the performance and conduct of the political parties in Guatemala and the developments in the political system.
From 2003 to 2007 the number of registered parties decreased from 22 to 17. Three parties did not pass the electoral barrier of 4% and 2 parties were disbanded. From the remaining 17, only 12 obtained representation in the Congress although with different degree of power and influence.
The power balance between the parties in Congress was frequently modified because of floor crossing of MPs.
During the last four years, reforms to the Electoral and Political Parties Law (in May 2004 and November 2006) have had a major influence on the political parties. The most important reforms include:
• the increment of the minimum number of affiliates required to be officially accepted as a party, which was triplicated;
• the increase of the number of affiliates at municipal level to have local organization; and
• the controls on financial resources during regular operations and electoral campaigns.
Other reforms, like the decentralization of the voting centers, the introduction of financial tops for electoral campaigns, and the regulation of the electoral propaganda through diverse mass media, have also affected the parties because the reforms meant (new) procedures for registration, information, control, verification and transparency to which the parties were not used.
Multiparty cooperation between the political parties have has become a permanent practice. For instance in the Permanent Forum of Political Parties, formed at the end of 2002. This forum, a platform for multiparty dialogue and consensus building integrated 11 commissions on different issues.
One of the commissions dealt with the issue of security in the country; making a proposal for an integral security system and the necessary legislation to make it operational. This included the installation of an international commission against impunity, which was ratified in August 2007. Also a permanent ethical code of conduct for political parties was drawn by the Forum and accepted by the parties.
During 2006 they negotiated a basic development plan for the country (Plan Vision de País), a multiparty agreement with the entrepreneurs and leaders of different sectors of the country. Under this agreement 12 parties reached general agreements on priorities in the field of security, justice, education, health, nutrition and rural development.
And additional to the experience of building a Shared National Agenda in 2003 a similar exercise on the departmental level was completed in 2007: both in Chimaltenango and Alta Verapaz the political parties committed to a shared agenda reflecting the needs of their own region.
The Monography 2003-2007 provides information from each political party about:
• Their history;
• Vision and Mission - principles, values and ideology;
• General items of their party program;
• Organization and internal operations;
• Financial resources;
• Training program plan;
• International links;
• Social base;
• Participation in multiparty spaces; and
• Electoral performance.
Most of the information for the elaboration of this Monography is part of the baseline research study carried out by NIMD/ASIES as reference to the further study on the performance and conduct of the political parties during the current Guatemalan electoral process. The data has been collected by interviews with the political parties and other organizations and institutes that have everyday experience in working with the political parties. Also the Electoral Supreme Court and its dependencies were also sources of information.
An up-dated Monography will be published in February of 2008 including the results of the forthcoming elections in September 2007.