ON MAY 29, parliament passed a new election law that unifies the rules for all elections held in Slovakia. The new legislation applies to the following types of elections: national parliamentary elections, European Parliament elections, presidential elections, voting on the dismissal of a president, regional elections, municipal elections and referendums.
Here is an overview of the major changes introduced by the law:
- State Commission for Elections and Control of Political Party Financing
A governmental body that will consist of 14 members - 10 nominees of parliamentary political parties (proportionally to the number of mandates they have), plus one nominee each for the Constitutional Court president, Supreme Court president, General Prosecutor, and head of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ). The commission will oversee the financing of campaigns but also the financing of political parties in more general terms. It will be allowed to issue sanctions if it finds discrepancies.
- Financial limits for campaigns
Before the new law was passed, only some of the campaigns were financially restricted by law. The new election law introduces financial limits for all election campaigns. In parliamentary elections, the financial limit was abolished in 2006 and it is now being reintroduced with parties being allowed to spend a maximum of €3 million on their campaigns. The same limit applies to European Parliament elections. Presidential candidates will be limited to €500,000 in their campaigning. In both cases, the sums include all the costs of campaigning 180 days before the elections. A candidate for the regional governor post can spend €250,000, similar to a candidate for the mayor of Bratislava and Košice. For other mayoral candidates, their spending limit depends on the number of citizens in their respective municipality, ranging from €100,000 for those in municipalities with 60,001-120,000 inhabitants, and €2,000 for those in municipalities with up to 2,000 inhabitants.
- Transparent accounts to finance campaigns
All finances that the parties and candidates use in their campaigns will have to flow through special accounts, called transparent accounts. For every political campaign, a party or a candidate must open a special account. Information about transactions (date, sum, name of the donor, variable symbol) on the account must be accessible to the public at all times. Parties and candidates will be able to receive deposits on their accounts until 48 hours before the election day.
- Moratorium for all elections
Under the new rules, a 48-hour moratorium must be observed prior to all elections. This only comes as a change for parliamentary elections, which until now have not been subject to a moratorium.
Also, 14 days before election day until polling stations are closed, it will be illegal to publish the results of opinion polls.
- Circles instead of crosses
Until now, the rules for various kinds of elections differed as to how a voter would select a candidate on a ballot. While in some elections this was done by drawing a cross next to the candidate’s name, in others a number corresponding to the candidate was circled. Under the unified rules, only circles will be used.
- Mayors need secondary education
Perhaps the most controversial change, which was proposed only shortly before the laws were passed in parliament, is the requirement for mayors to have at least a secondary education. This came as a reaction to reports on some illiterate mayors. Part of the opposition is ready to contest this provision at the Constitutional Court.
Voting rules to change
Mayoral seat not for just anyone