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IN SHORT

Election Law not to be amended

RULING coalition parties have decided not to support an amendment of the Election Law that would, among other things, permit private electronic media to carry political advertising during the election campaign.

Other changes proposed by a bill now in parliament include lowering the percentage of preference votes a party candidate need get for his position on the candidate's list to change - in other words, giving voters more say in which party candidates get into parliament - from 10 per cent to three or even one.

Finally, the bill proposed eliminating the 48-hour moratorium on media coverage before the polls opened, eliminating the single constituency system, and setting quotas for the number of women on party candidate lists.

Political parties explained their resistance to the changes as not wanting to alter the rules of the game shortly before elections, especially since the law was already changed in 1999 after a Constitutional Court decision ruling a provision that effectively banned coalitions was illegal.

An extensive amendment of the law in 1998 by the former Vladimír Mečiar government was heavily criticised by Western observers for interfering with free political competition.

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