With just 100 days to go before voters cast their ballots, the general elections in April remain mired in uncertainty due to the absence of local constituencies. Rival parties have failed to fully agree on redrawing the electoral constituency map for the elections on April 13. The current electoral map became invalid by the end of 2015. For the first time in history, candidates seeking parliamentary seats in the 20th National Assembly are jockeying for position ahead of elections without exactly knowing the constituencies. The rival parties are required to redraw electoral districts as the Constitutional Court ruled in October 2014 that the electoral map was unconstitutional, citing unequal representation.
Equal and fair citizenship is a concept which originated from the political doctrine of Aristotle, undergoing permutations in that it does not necessarily pertain to individuals possessing a direct involvement in governance; instead, it embodies an amalgamation of rights accorded to citizens within legislation which exists as the basis and framework for ensuring vibrant socio-political activity. As an applied principle, this means that policies created with the intent of upholding equal opportunity and fair participation should not disenfranchise any community within society. With the General Elections just around the corner, there has been an increased focus on policies that many consider contentious. Prevailing concerns revolve around the seemingly self-serving redrawing of the boundaries which define constituencies across the island-state by the ruling People’s Action Party (PAP), whose members occupy a distinct majority of seats in parliament, and the framework within which voting ensues, with emphasis on the Group Representation Constituency (GRC) system. Typically, the lines that demarcate Singapore’s constituencies are modified every four years just before General Elections are due, at the advice of the Electoral Boundaries Review Committee (EBRC). Members of this entity are appointed by the Prime Minister and collaborate with the Elections Department, which operates under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The reform committee of the main opposition party has opened a political Pandora’s Box by recommending a wholesale reorganization of electoral districts and proportional representatives, a plan that would ultimately increase the number of seats in the National Assembly by nearly a fourth. The New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s (NPAD) reform committee, headed by Kim Sang-gon, a liberal icon in the education community, presented a plan on Sunday that would redraw the current electoral map. It is based on an earlier proposal by the National Election Commission. In October, the Constitutional Court ruled the current electoral constituency map unconstitutional, saying it resulted in unequal representation caused by population changes. The National Election Commission presented its plan in February and the National Assembly created a special committee in March to discuss the issue. The redistricting is supposed to be finalized by October.
The constitution of the Falkland Islands requires that a general election be held every four years to choose the eleven members of the Islands’ Legislative Assembly or lower house of government. The next General Election is due to be held on November 7th this year. Once elected, members will choose three of their number to become members of the Executive Council, which is the upper house of the Falkland Islands. While the Executive Council is presided over by a Governor appointed by the British Government and includes a small number of other members such as the Attorney General of the Falkland Islands, the three elected members of the Executive Council drawn from among the elected members of the Legislative Assembly are the only members to have voting rights. Out of a resident population estimated at 2,931 on the occasion of the last census in April of 2012, there are nearly 2,000 people eligible to vote by reason of their being over the age of 18 and possessing the necessary status.
Russia’s lower house has approved the first reading of a bill returning independent constituencies to the federal parliamentary polls. The bill drafted by the presidential administration in line with Vladimir Putin’s 2012 address to the parliament in which the Russian leader pledged personal support to the move suggested by politicians and political experts . It was passed in the first reading by 296 against 148 with one abstention.
Opposition political blocs and the mostly Islamist Majority Bloc signed a document on Saturday that rejects any amendments to the Elections Law prior to the upcoming parliament elections. The document rejects changes to the five constituencies and the number of votes, saying the matter is the prerogative of the legislative authority. The signatories include the Majority Bloc, the Kuwaiti Reform Movement, the Popular Bloc, the Reform and Development Bloc, the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), as well as liberal MP Saleh Al-Mullah. News reports predict that HH the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah will approve the decree dissolving the 2009 Assembly this week, as early as Sunday. The government presented HH the Amir with a draft decree to dissolve the 2009 Assembly last Wednesday. However, parliament sources believe that the dissolution will be delayed to later this month, possibly until after Eid Al-Adha.
The battle lines are drawn and the parties lined up for fierce fights in Hong Kong’s geographical constituencies where 69 teams of candidates will battle it out for 35 seats. In sharp contrast, 16 out of the 30 original functional seats will be won uncontested. Analysts caution that the sheer immensity of the candidate lists in the city-wide ballot will make it difficult for any team’s second candidate to win the election to the Legislative Council (LegCo). There are five new seats up for grabs, one in each of the five geographical constituencies, increasing the tally to 35. But even with the increase in the number of seats, the field looks distinctly overcrowded as the two-week nomination period ended on Tuesday. In comparison to this year’s 69 candidate lists for 35 seats, only 55 lists competed in the 2008 election in which there were 30 seats available.
According to Wissam Sghaier, a member of the Libyan High National Elections Commission (HNEC), the final results of Libya’s General National Congress (GNC) elections in will begin to trickle in today. Given that the elections took place in 13 constituent districts across Libya, today’s results will be partial, and will not include all regions of the country.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Maseru will start distributing ballot papers starting on Wednesday in preparation for the Advanced voting on Saturday. This has been confirmed by the District Electoral Officer (DEO) in Maseru, Mr. Motlohi Sekoala in an interview on Tuesday. Mr. Sekoala said the ballot papers will be distributed under heavy police guard to ensure maximum safety during the exercise. He said there are about 970 advanced voters in 18 Maseru constituencies who are expected to cast their votes after applying as advanced electors.
Recent police clashes with election-reform protesters in Malaysia have dented premier Najib Razak’s reform credentials and may force him to push back elections, analysts say. Najib was widely expected to set a June date for what is predicted to be a close battle between his ruling coalition and the opposition led by Anwar Ibrahim, but observers say Saturday’s protest may have changed his thinking. Tens of thousands took to the streets of the capital Kuala Lumpur to demand clean elections, defying government curbs on the rally. Angry demonstrators broke through barricades and clashed with police, who fired tear gas and chemical-laced water on crowds and arrested 512 people. All have since been released. Analysts say the events may have tarnished Najib’s efforts to win votes by pledging to loosen the long-ruling coalition’s authoritarianism.
King Letsie III is expected to dissolve parliament on Thursday next week ahead of the country’s 8th parliamentary elections. Speaking yesterday on the sidelines of a Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organisations seminar held to discuss the country’s preparedness for the polls, the Independent Electoral Commission spokesperson, Mrs ‘Mamatlere Matete told Public Eye the 7th parliament is supposed to be officially closed on March 15, in line with the country’s constitution. “The term of the current parliament ends on the 15th of March 2012, as it began its tenure on March 15 2007. Therefore, we expect the King to dissolve the parliament as indicated in the country’s constitution. “Again, in line with Lesotho’s constitution, we should host elections within 90 days of the dissolution of parliament, and this is what we are expecting to happen,” said Matete.
A row over boundaries for the new constituencies and county wards may derail the election calendar and make it impossible to have elections in December. A House committee and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission have both rejected the push for new wards and constituencies from most of the 500 petitioners, who had qualms with the commission’s proposals for the 290 constituencies and 1,450 wards. (READ: Did MPs create wards for themselves?) This failure to yield to the demands, according to acting chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Njoroge Baiya, will expose the process to mass litigation and open doors for a constitutional challenge on the time limit within which the Judiciary should determine petitions over delimitation. The worry over litigation arises out of an inconsistency in law, Mr Baiya told the Nation on Sunday.