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MINISTER CLAIMS PROPOSED CHANGES WILL BRING TRANSPARENCY

New rules seek ban on outside cash in elections

NEW election rules might exclude all but candidates and the political parties running in elections from taking part in the pre-election campaign.

NEW election rules might exclude all but candidates and the political parties running in elections from taking part in the pre-election campaign.

Interior Minister Róbert Kaliňák presented his long-expected draft amendment to the Election Code July 30. The major changes, with the declared aim to increase transparency and fairness of elections, include re-introduction of pre-election polling and advertising moratoriums, spending limits for campaigning, and the duty for all political parties and candidates to have a special account for each campaign, with the related data publicly accessible.

In addition to all these changes, reported by media before, Kaliňák also wants to limit campaigning exclusively to political parties, movements, and candidates running in the election in question.

“It is a tax for transparent accounts, so that any third person cannot hide behind the campaign,” Kaliňák told the July 30 press conference, as quoted by the Sme daily.

Such campaigns have occurred in Slovakia in the past and influenced voters. Prior to the 2010 parliamentary elections that ended the rule of the coalition of Smer, the Slovak National Party (SNS), the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), and cartoonist Martin “Shooty” Šútovec ran a billboard campaign, financed by outside sources, which aimed to encourage voters not to support any concrete political party, but merely vote against the then-government. Thousands of Slovaks contributed money to finance the billboards.

Under the proposed changes to election rules, political parties and candidates will be only able to finance their campaigns through an account opened specifically for each campaign. Kaliňák worries that if he allowed private people or companies to participate in the election campaign the way Šútovec did, political parties and candidates could use them to pour black money into their campaigns.

Peter Goliaš, the head of the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms, refused such argument, saying that the transparent account and the election campaign by third parties can co-exist.

“The key thing is for the public to know who finances the campaign,” Goliaš told Sme.

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

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