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Government passes election law changes

Rules governing Slovakia’s elections are likely to change as the government agreed on two laws unifying voting procedures across the country and setting campaign spending limits in its August 14 session, the TASR newswire reported.

Rules governing Slovakia’s elections are likely to change as the government agreed on two laws unifying voting procedures across the country and setting campaign spending limits in its August 14 session, the TASR newswire reported.

Political parties and movements will be allowed to spend up to €3 million on campaigns, while the limit for presidential candidates is just €500,000. The fines for spending more than the limit are €100,000 for parties and €30,000 for presidential candidates. Changes would also bar parties from campaigning at times other than those specified by the law and introduce a moratorium on campaigning beginning 48 hours before each election. Moratoria are currently mandatory only for certain types of elections.

Financial resources for campaigns should be kept in separate accounts that will be available for third parties to inspect at any time under new rules. Inspections will be carried out by state bodies, which will impose appropriate fines, TASR wrote.

The introduction of the financial limits for campaigns will not solve the problems with illicit money in politics, said NOVA party Chairman Daniel Lipšic, as reported by TASR. His New Majority-Agreement movement has proposed a change in party financing that would limit state contributions and motivate parties to find sponsors.

The new law which sets changes to the organisation of the elections proposes that Slovak citizens can participate in referendums via post, and that votes be marked by circles rather than crosses, TASR reported.

The unified rules should contribute to cut election costs by introducing electronic communication between the Central Election Committee and sub-committees and by limiting the number of district election committee members to eight. There is no such limit in place at the moment, with individual members paid for taking part in committees. In 2012, for example, there were 69,283 district election committee members, noted the ministry. If the eight-member limit had been imposed then, the number would have dropped by 21,635, with the state saving €865,400, TASR wrote.

Other changes include fines that district authorities will be empowered to impose on voters. People who disrupt order at polling stations as well as those who fail to discard unused ballot papers into the designated boxes will be fined €33.

Moreover, voters during European Parliament elections who apply to be registered on voter lists in both Slovakia and another EU state will be fined €100. The same fine will apply to voters who include false information in their statutory declarations, TASR reported.

If passed by the full parliament the changes will come into force in January 2014, in time for next year’s presidential election.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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