NEWS26 March 2010

Wapor raises alarm over changes to Peru polling laws

Government Latin America

US— Polling advocacy group Wapor is warning of a threat to the freedom to conduct election surveys in Peru, where a proposed law would give politicians and their aides the right to observe interviewers in action.

Wapor – the World Association for Public Opinion Research – objects to the ‘derecho de veeduría’ (right of observation) contained in a bill of proposed changes to election polling regulations currently before the Peruvian Congress.

In a statement the association cautions that “the right to directly observe an interview by third parties conflicts with the principle of anonymity that generally characterises survey research”.

“Wapor’s executive council believes that the proposed derecho de veeduría undermines the profession’s best practices and obstructs researcher–sponsor relations, potentially restricting the freedom and practice of conducting and publishing public opinion polls,” the association says.

The bill also contains an expanded list of requirements for minimal disclosure, including the name of the survey sponsor and how much they paid for the study.

While Wapor does not object to identifying the survey sponsor – saying such disclosure requirements are “in full agreement” with its own principles – the association says information about the cost of the study may be considered confidential information as defined by the Wapor code of professional ethics and practices, which states that “all information and material supplied by the sponsor for the research must remain confidential unless otherwise agreed between them”.

The association says it is “concerned that approval of these changes would set a precedent in Latin America that ultimately will increase restrictions in election polling regulations”.