DG Roundup: July 31 - August 6

Aug. 6, 2013, 3:59 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.

Guinea-Bissau: A unanimous agreement has been reached between the interim government, political parties, and civil society in Guinea-Bissau over the type of voting cards to be used for this November’s presidential and parliamentary elections. Interim President Manuel Serifo NHAMADJO has announced that manual voter registration cards will be used for the elections, as biometric cards were not seen as a viable option. The voter registration cards will cost an estimated $3.5 million, but Interim President NHAMDJO has stated that they will be extremely difficult to forge or replicate, cutting down on the possibility of electoral fraud. In his statement, Interim President NHAMADJO also noted that Bissau Guineans living abroad will be able to cast their ballot in the election, for the first time since 1994. Italy: A vote on electoral reform will be held in the Chamber of Deputies / Camera dei Deputati in October. The current election law has been in place since the 2006 elections won by Silvio BERLUSCONI’s People of Freedom / Il Popolo della Libertà. The election law has come under scrutiny in the wake of the most recent February 2013 election for two key provisions. First, the provision that the party that wins the Chamber of Deputies / Cameri dei Deputati election receives an automatic majority in the Parliament, has been criticized as unfair to minority parties. In the most recent election, despite winning only 29.5 percent of the popular vote, Pier Luigi BERSANI’s Italy. Common Good / Italia. Bene Comune coalition received 345 seats (55 percent) in the lower house. Second, the provision that voters cannot express candidate preference on the ballot has given political parties the power to determine the candidate lineup without respect to the desires of the voters. The Chamber of Deputies / Camera dei Deputati has passed a measure to declare electoral reform an urgent matter, which means that the bill will be debated on in September, and voted on in October. Solomon Islands: The government of the Solomon Islands has announced that an agreement has been signed to provide for biometric voter registration in advance of next year’s Parliamentary elections. The transition to biometric voter cards will being in August 2013, with work scheduled to be complete in early 2014. The project will aim to help the Electoral Commission centralize its data on eligible voters, by cleaning the present voters’ roll and producing a new, updated list. Additionally, all voters will receive a new ID card with matching, verified biometric data using their fingerprints and facial data. Tuvalu: Enele SOPOAGA has been sworn in as Prime Minister of Tuvalu. The vote came after a recent by-election win by the opposition in Nukufetau in June 2013, precipitated by the death of Minister of Finance Lotoala METIA. Following the election victory, which gave the opposition a majority of 8 seats in Parliament, Prime Minister Willy TELAVI refused to reconvene Parliament. Governor General Iakoba ITALELI used his reserve powers to have Parliament convene, where TELAVI would face a vote of no confidence. Despite attempts to avoid the vote by suspending Parliament after the resignation of Health Minister Taom TANUKALE, the Governor General again used his reserve powers to bring Parliament back into session. In a vote of no confidence on August 2, Prime Minister TELAVI was removed from office with 8 votes against his leadership.

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