DG Roundup: August 28 - September 3, 2013

Sept. 4, 2013, 2:51 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.

Chile: Members of a Senate Commission were scheduled to vote on Tuesday to introduce legislation to overhaul the electoral system. Currently, Chile uses a binomial system of representation, under which the two most powerful political coalitions almost always win at least one seat in each constituency. The binomial system is a vestige of the regime of General Augusto PINOCHET, who sought to ensure equal representation in the transition to democracy. Under the new law, the binomial system of representation would cease to exist in most constituencies, with the Radio Universidad de Chile, reporting that the system would no longer apply to 75 percent of Senate voters, and 95 percent of voters for the Chamber of Deputies. Somalia: At a conference of the reconstruction and reconciliation of Somalia, President Hassan Sheikh MAHMUD stated that the Federal Government of Somalia is committed to holding general elections by September 2016, when the government’s mandate expires. The elections will be the first nationwide elections in Somalia since parliamentary elections were held in 1984. The current Parliament was appointed in September 2012 by clan elders, to develop the laws for the country, and work on resource sharing and good governance. A major unresolved issue remains the status of the Republic of Somaliland and Puntland, two semi-autonomous regions of Somalia. Representatives from both governments were absent from the conference. South Africa: With the current term of the National Assembly set to expire on April 21, 2014, the Independent Electoral Commission has released a series of proposals regarding amending the electoral code for voting from abroad. Presently, only government officials, sports teams, and people on business trips or holiday are allowed to vote from abroad, so long as they notify the IEC within 15 days of the proclamation of the election date. After a court ruled in 2009 that this was illegal, the IEC has set about seeking a way to incorporate the decision into the electoral system. Under the proposed amendments to the electoral code, voters will now be able to cast ballots for the National Assembly from anywhere they are on election day, making the election system more inclusive. However, voters will not be able to use this method for electing provincial representatives, given the logistical hurdles presented with the multiple ballot papers.

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