THE 2016 parliamentary elections will be held under new rules as parliament passed a new election code during its May 29 session. When signed by the president, the law will come into force as of July 1, 2015.

While the declared aim of the law is to unite the differing rules for all types of elections held in Slovakia, some opposition deputies consider the changes only cosmetic.

The election codes, authored by the Interior Ministry, stipulate that the financing of election campaigns will be limited to €3 million for parties, the Sme daily wrote on its website. A presidential candidate will be allowed to spend €500,000, as will candidates in regional and communal elections. If they exceed the limits, they will be fined up to €300,000.

Moreover, a 14-member State Committee will oversee the elections and the campaigning, with 10 members being appointed by political parties (five by a ruling coalition and five by the opposition), while the chairs of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court, the general prosecutor and the head of the Supreme Audit Office will be allowed to propose one member each. The committee will impose fines for violations of the law.

Parties and candidates will have an obligatory transparent account for the elections which will serve as a tool for monitoring the transactions and donors. Buying of votes will be punished, as well as “stealing” the name of another party shortly before it is to be registered.

Additionally, a 48-hour election moratorium will be introduced for all types of elections, and two weeks before the elections there will be a ban on publishing results from public opinion polls. In the event that an election has two rounds, the ban will be effective two weeks before the first round and one week before the second, Sme reported.

Mayoral candidates will have to have received at least a secondary school education. This stems from the amending proposal to the election code submitted by Smer MPs, which was supported by MPs for the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) and independent MP Alojz Hlina.

The rule will become effective in the municipal election held this autumn.

Daniel Lipšic of NOVA, however, wants to challenge the secondary school education requirement for mayors at the Constitutional Court. According to him, such a measure threatens the basic principles of democracy.

“It is obviously unconstitutional,” Lipšic said, as quoted by the SITA newswire. He added that one of the democratic principles is that the majority decides in elections. “The majority can elect anybody. Any educational or property conditions for directly elected functions mean a return back to the previous centuries.”

Lipšic also cites a lack of more serious changes to the code, as reported by the TASR newswire.

The ruling Smer did not support several amending proposals submitted by the opposition parties. This included, for example, a proposal to vote from abroad at embassies, or to set zero postal fees for ballots coming from abroad, SITA wrote.