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Interior Ministry proposes election rules to change

ELECTION rules in Slovakia look set to change as the Interior Ministry has proposed a draft law to cap campaign spending.

ELECTION rules in Slovakia look set to change as the Interior Ministry has proposed a draft law to cap campaign spending.

The proposal is based on some of the commitments that all the current parliamentary parties made prior to the 2012 general elections in the wake of problematic party financing evidenced in the Gorilla file. Under the new rules, political parties and movements can spend no more than €3 million on campaigning for general elections, while presidential candidates are limited to €500,000 for both rounds of the election. Financial limits are also proposed for regional and municipal elections.

The ministry also proposed that political parties and movements have a special account for financing their campaigns, one for each campaign, in order to increase the transparency of the financing, the Sme daily reported July 17. The account balance and list of transactions should be accessible to the public.

Political groups will also be required to publish the list of campaign expenses on their websites, Sme reported, citing the proposal. The same goes for individual presidential candidates.

Every year, parties and movements will be required to publish on their websites or in the press a list of persons who contributed gifts totaling more than the monthly minimum wage. If in effect at present the law would require any gift of more than €337.70 to be reported.

Unlike in the past, changes would mandate that rule violations are sanctioned financially, and the bodies controlling the process will be state bodies. The latter has drawn criticism from political transparency watchdogs. Transparency International Slovensko head Gabriel Šípoš noted that proposed changes task the Finance Ministry with overseeing campaign finance, but that the pre-2012 election commitments called for founding an independent control body.

“I cannot imagine Minister [Peter] Kažimír investigating the Smer party in case of suspicions about murky financing, and how his subordinates will rake the party chairman Robert Fico over the coals,” Šípoš told Sme.

Opposition parties objected mainly to the proposed reintroduction of a 48-hour pre-election moratorium on campaigning and advertising, calling it nonsense in the era of electronic communication, according to the TASR newswire. Opposition politicians are divided over the issue of campaign finance limits.

If the new election rules clear the cabinet and are passed by the parliament, they may go into effect as early as next year, and thus affect the spring 2014 presidential election.

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