DG Roundup: July 17 - July 23

July 23, 2013, 4:40 p.m.

DG Roundup is ElectionGuide.org’s newest feature. Once a week, DG Roundup will give an overview of developments in democracy and governance from around the world. Afghanistan: Last week, the President of Afghanistan, Hamid KARZAI signed two new electoral laws defining the legal framework for presidential and provincial elections, and granting more independence and power to the election commission. On July 17, KARZAI signed into law a bill that lays out the rules and composition for the Afghan election commission, and the creation of a separate commission to adjudicate complaints about voter fraud and electoral irregularities. The complaints commission was a divisive inclusion in the bill, and an earlier version allowing foreigners to serve on the complaints commission was vetoed by KARZAI. A compromise was struck, and the complaints commission was included in the final text of the law; however, only Afghans can serve on the commission. The second law governs how the presidential and provincial elections will occur. Among the major changes in the new law is a provision reducing the quota for women on provisional councils from 25 percent to 20 percent. Now that these bills have been signed into law, the elections scheduled for April 5, 2014 will be able to continue as scheduled. Israel: In the wake of an agreement to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin NETANYAHU has stated that he will fast-track legislation to put any peace deal to a national referendum. The new legislation will build on a 2010 law mandating that Israel hold a nationwide referendum in any case where Israel would be required to surrender sovereignty over territories it had annexed. The new legislation will build on this law, mandating a referendum if any land is handed over to the Palestinians as part of the peace process. Coalition partner Neftali BENNETT of the Jewish Home party, has mandated that NETANYAHU enact the legislation within 90 days in light of the moves to restart peace talks. Libya: The General National Congress of Libya has approved a law allowing for the election of members of a committee to draft a new constitution. The constitutional committee will consist of 60 members, mirroring the committee established to draft Libya’s first post-independence in 1951. The 60 members will be elected by popular vote in Libya’s three historic regions of Tripolitania, Cyrenaica, and Fezzan. Six seats on the committee will be reserved for women and another six will be reserved for members of the Amazigh, Tibu, and Tuareg communities. In the elections, candidates will stand as individuals, and will not represent political parties. The constitutional committee will have 120 days to draft the new constitution. Following the drafting of the new constitution, it will be put to a nationwide referendum for approval. Slovakia: Interior Minister Robert KALIŇÁK has drafted a new law to cap campaign spending. The proposed law follows commitments made by political parties in advance of the 2012 general elections, after the release of the Gorilla scandal, which revealed widespread corruption in the Slovak government. Under the new rules, political parties and coalitions would be able to spend no more than €3 million while campaigning for general elections, whereas presidential candidates will be limited to no more than €500,000 for both rounds of the elections. In an effort to increase transparency, political groups will be required to publish a list of campaign expenses on their website, in addition to any person donating more than €337.50 per month.

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