SANTIAGO – President Michelle Bachelet signed into law Friday a measure granting autonomy to Chile’s Electoral Service, or Servel, which is also getting a bigger budget.
The legislation is part of the government’s push for greater transparency and probity in the wake of campaign-finance scandals and will give Servel greater scope to oversee and scrutinize the electoral process.
“In practical terms the new law establishes the full independence of Servel from other branches of government and, in particular, from the power of those who stand for election,” Bachelet told a press conference.
“This means more transparency in the electoral process, a better monitoring of candidates and political parties, and a stricter control of campaign financing,” she said.
The first test of the new arrangements will be the 2016 municipal elections.
As part of its expanded brief, Servel is expected to regulate the amounts spent on political advertising, impose lower ceilings on campaign spending, bar corporations from donating to parties or campaigns and to create a system of public financing.
Servel is to be run by five directors appointed by the president and subject to Senate ratification, serving staggered terms of 8-10 years to maximize their independence from Congress and the executive branch.
The Servel reform is the first of the Bachelet administration’s 21 transparency and anti-corruption initiatives to become law.