The Trudeau government is proposing to limit the length of federal election campaigns, restrict the amount of spending allowed in the period immediately before a campaign and introduce new rules to regulate third-party political activity — all part of a new set of reforms to Canada’s elections laws. Political parties also would be required to disclose how and what information they collect from voters. “The changes we are proposing in this legislation will update the Canada Elections Act to better address the realities facing our democratic institutions in the 21st century,” Scott Brison, acting democratic institutions minister, said Monday afternoon after tabling legislation in the House of Commons. “It will make real, tangible improvements to make elections more efficient, inclusive and effective for all Canadians.”
Poland’s lawmakers have approved a controversial electoral law that critics say will give the ruling party influence over the voting procedure and will allow more room for vote rigging. The lower house voted late Wednesday to approve the legislation that will govern elections, beginning with local elections this fall. It was proposed by the ruling conservative Law and Justice party and is seen as favoring it. The party took power after winning elections in 2015 and immediately set about changing much of Poland’s laws, including those governing the justice system. The changes in the judiciary have drawn strong criticism from European Union leaders who say they threaten Poland’s rule of law, and have opened a procedure that could strip the nation of its EU voting rights. The new electoral law is expected to add to Poland’s conflict with its EU partners.
Members of the ministerial committee charged with examining the implementation of the new electoral law have admitted that it was impossible to apply the technical reforms stipulated in the law, with the parliamentary elections due on May 6. While the committee’s meeting on Tuesday, chaired by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, did not result in any decision on the matter, ministers have expressed clear stances towards the implementation of the reforms, in the wake of sharp disputes over the adoption of the biometric voting card and the mega center, which allows voting in place of residence. Ministerial sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that differences persisted over technical reforms, pointing out that any amendment in the law “requires prior agreement before submitting it to Parliament – a task that seems difficult so far.”
The observer mission of Atlanta based US group Carter Center is recommending to national government to carry out proper revision of electoral legislation that will help in addressing election gaps here. “We encourage the government to carry out a full review of electoral legislation through an inclusive process to address gaps and inconsistencies with the goal of bringing the legal framework in line with international standards for democratic elections,” the US group said Thursday, 28 December in Monrovia.
The Italian government on Wednesday won two confidence votes on a fiercely contested electoral law that is likely to penalize the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in next year’s national election. The proposed voting system is backed by three of the country’s four largest parties, with the centre-left government looking to rush it onto the statute books ahead of elections, which are due by May 2018. Five-Star supporters protested in front of parliament as the Chamber of Deputies approved two confidence motions by a wide margin. A third such vote is scheduled for Thursday ahead of a final ballot in the lower house on the disputed bill. Unlike the current rules, the new system would allow the formation of multi-party coalitions before the ballot, a factor likely to hurt 5-Star, which is topping most opinion polls and refuses to join alliances.
Pakistan: Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 to be presented for approval in National Assembly today | Pakistan Today
The Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 will be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday, after the Senate last week passed the bill. The acceptance of the bill in the National Assembly which will pave the way for Nawaz Sharif to regain chairmanship of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Earlier in August, after Nawaz had been disqualified according to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case, the ECP had informed the PML-N that according to the Political Parties Order 2002, a disqualified MNA would not hold any position in the party.
Canada: Government ‘fell short’ in protecting privacy during electoral reform consultation, privacy commissioner finds | National Post
The government “fell short” and “should have been more prudent” in preventing users’ personal information from being shared with third parties as they interacted with a much-maligned online electoral reform survey, Canada’s privacy commissioner has found. MyDemocracy.ca employed third-party scripts that could disclose users’ personal information to Facebook without their consent as soon as they loaded the website, according to the commissioner’s investigation. The responsible Privy Council Office also never conducted a privacy impact assessment related to the initiative. About 360,000 people had participated in the survey in December and January. An investigation from the privacy commissioner’s office says information retrieved about individuals could lead to “a fairly accurate picture of one’s personal activities, views, opinions, and lifestyle” and “be quite revealing about an individual’s Internet-based activities.”
The government has proposed to introduce the weighted voting system to conduct elections of president and vice-president under the 2015 constitution. The Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has already determined the weight of votes to be cast by members of the electoral college that comprises all lawmakers of both Houses of the federal Parliament as well as all provincial assemblies. The draft law has been sent to the Cabinet for further discussion before registering it in Parliament. Article 62 of the constitution states, “The President shall be elected by an electoral college composed of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies. The voting weight age of the members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assemblies shall vary as provided for in the Federal law.”
Togo’s parliament suspended its session Tuesday as opposition members protested the lack of a promised discussion of constitutional reforms, while anger grew over the 50-year-rule of the Gnassingbe family. Opposition lawmakers want a discussion on reinstating the country’s 1992 constitution, which included presidential term limits and two rounds of voting to allow the opposition to reassemble behind one candidate. Thousands of people across the small West African nation have been demonstrating for term limits on President Faure Gnassingbe, who has been in power since his father died in 2005. The protests began last month, when security forces killed at least two people and injured several others.
Canada: Limit to election campaign lengths, new third-party rules likely coming in fall, Liberal minister says | National Post
The minister responsible for elections reform says she is aiming to introduce legislation this fall that could impose a time limit on election campaigns. In an interview, Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould outlined changes her office is considering — including how to deal with foreign “actors” who she said are “getting ever more creative.” A House of Commons committee recommended in June that a maximum election writ period be set at 43 days, more than a month shorter than the unprecedented 78-day campaign in 2015.
Lawmakers voted to overhaul Moldova’s electoral system on Thursday, as thousands of opposition activists massed outside saying the changes favored the two largest parties. A smaller group of activists rallied nearby backing the measures, which they say will bring voters closer to the people who represent them. Prime Minister Pavel Filip pushed to replace the proportional electoral system with a mixed scheme which will let voters cast their ballot for constituency candidates as well as party lists.
Pakistan: Electoral reforms committee approves ‘Election Bill 2017’ with dissenting notes | Daily Pakistan
The parliamentary committee on electoral reforms finalised ‘The Election Bill, 2017’ on Wednesday with dissenting notes by five political parties. Talking to newsmen after the approval Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, who is the chairperson of the committee expressed that the bill will formally be signed on July 21 (Friday) by the committee for its onward submission to parliament for approval. “Nine major election laws have been merged in The Election Bill, 2017 as per best international practices, with the input of all political parties having representation in parliament,” Dar said.
Italy’s politics is currently paralysed. Since the resignation of PM Matteo Renzi last December, the majority of the population and most political parties want an election, even though one is not scheduled to occur until next year. The country is now on its fourth consecutive unelected PM, Paolo Gentiloni. As he leads the government Renzi remains behind the scenes, calling the shots for his party and itching to get back into power. Yet an early election cannot occur immediately, nor can electoral reform happen overnight. It is a debate Italians and Canadians are quite familiar with. Italy has seen such proceedings, on and off, for more than two decades. The numerous reforms that have emerged from this debate demonstrate perfectly the various tradeoffs that electoral reform entails, and illustrate the idea that no electoral system is perfect.
France: In address before parliament at Versailles, Macron Calls for Changes to France’s Parliament, Voting | AFP
In his first address to members of the National Assembly and Senate since his election in May, Macron delivered a US-style state of the nation speech in the Versailles palace, the former seat of French kings, saying the country must change. “Until now, we were too often on the wrong track,” said the 39-year-old leader, who won office on a promise of political renewal. “We preferred procedures to results, rules to initiative, a society where you live off inherited wealth, to a just society.” He confirmed a plan to implement reform of France’s jaded political system, changes first raised during campaigning. That would include shrinking the number of lawmakers in both houses of parliament — 577 in the lower house National Assembly and 348 in the Senate — by a third, saying it would have “positive effects on the general quality of parliamentary work”.
On Friday, June 16th, Lebanon quietly ended one of the longest stretches of government paralysis in post-Second World War history. The parliament met to ratify a new electoral law that will govern national elections next year, nearly a decade after the last parliamentary polls were held. The law’s proponents claim that it will improve representation for the many sects that compose the country’s religiously diverse population. They say it also addresses demands by civil-society groups who have railed against the propensity of the political élite to pass power down through the generations and keep reformists at bay. In Beirut, there is both cynicism and optimism about what the new law might deliver. Mostly, though, one senses an uncertainty about the future—a familiar enough feeling in a country that endured a brutal, fifteen-year civil war, but unfamiliar in other ways. There is a genuine wondering-aloud as to whether a new chapter in Lebanon’s history might be about to begin, and some hope that a political system built on the principle of fostering coexistence might be insulated from a region wracked by sectarianism.
In an alternate universe, Justin Trudeau wasn’t standing before the cameras on Tuesday, trying again to explain why he had walked away from a campaign commitment to pursue electoral reform. Because during June 2015 in that alternate universe, Trudeau had stood before the cameras and vowed that a Liberal government would implement a ranked ballot for electing MPs. Alas, in reality, Trudeau made an open-ended commitment to reform and vowed it would be in place for 2019. A committee was struck to study the issue, dozens of town hall forums were convened, an online survey was conducted and postcards were mailed to millions of households inviting Canadians to participate. Only then did Trudeau’s government walk away. But only then did Trudeau publicly confront the actual possibilities for reform. And, as it turns out, his preference for a ranked ballot and his opposition to proportional representation, first stated in 2012, were left standing.
Canada: Taxpayers spent more than $600K for Electoral Reform Committee report Liberals dismissed | The Hill Times
Parliamentarians spent more than $600,000 and 200-plus hours compiling a 333-page report recommending major changes to the country’s voting system that was largely rejected by the Trudeau government within hours of its release, new House of Commons statistics show. The Special Committee on Electoral Reform, convened by the House to study and consult on prospective changes to the federal election process, posted the largest tab of any House committee over the course of 2016-17, according to spending figures released last week by the House Liaison Committee, which determines committee budgets. The all-party Electoral Reform Committee spent $477,910 travelling across the country to hear directly from Canadians, with another $125,839 charged for the work of Library of Parliament research assistants and the committee’s operational budget, which includes working meals, reports, and professional services.
A new electoral law is expected to be ratified by Lebanon’s parliament on Friday, paving the way for the first parliamentary elections in eight years. On Wednesday, ministers announced that Lebanon will be holding the long-delayed legislative elections in May 2018 after the country’s cabinet approved a new electoral law, staving off a fresh political crisis that threatened to leave the country without a parliament. The move will also end a stalemate that saw the country’s parliament extend its tenure twice.
Lebanon is likely to hold long-delayed elections in May 2018, ministers said on Wednesday, after the cabinet approved a new law for a legislative vote that has spared the country a major political crisis. Recent disputes over an election law that is at the heart of the nation’s sectarian political system had pushed Lebanon to the brink of crisis, threatening to leave it without a parliament for the first time. The new law will extend parliament’s term by almost a year until next May, avoiding a legislative vacuum when the chamber’s current term ends on June 20. It will create a proportional representation system for parliament and alter the number of districts from which lawmakers are elected, among other changes.
Lebanon’s rival parties reached agreement on Tuesday on an electoral law, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said, staving off a political crisis and paving the way for a parliamentary election. The agreement still needs the approval of the cabinet in a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, and will then be sent to parliament. “Today we have reached a political agreement between the political sides,” said Bassil, an ally of President Michel Aoun. It will take at least seven months to prepare for an election, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said.
Several thousand people took part in demonstrations across Moldova on Sunday, protesting both in favor of and against proposed changes to the electoral system that European rights experts see as “inappropriate”. The pro-European ruling coalition has been seeking to change the voting system in time for a parliamentary election next year, when its parties will be in a tough fight with pro-Moscow rivals who reject closer integration with Europe. Chanting “We will not surrender!”, some 4,000 protesters gathered in central Chisinau, appealing to the Venice Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United States to prevent the changes coming into force.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has said that the upcoming general elections in 2018 will be held according to the new electoral reforms. Speaking after a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms in Islamabad on Tuesday, the federal minister said that contentious points will be further deliberated in the sub-committee on electoral reforms meeting to be held tomorrow (May 17th). He hoped that the sub-committee headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid on draft Elections Bill, 2017 will submit its report before the next budget.
The first legislation that Bulgaria’s ruling centre-right GERB party has proposed within the new 44th National Assembly – the introduction of a majoritarian electoral system – is likely to face opposition from the other four parties in parliament. Following promises it made during the previous legislature and in the campaign ahead of the snap vote on March 26, GERB on Wednesday proposed changes to the electoral code that would transform the current mixed electoral system into a fully majoritarian one, in which MPs are elected in constituencies with an absolute majority in two rounds. The proposal follows a referendum on changes to the political system held on November 6, 2016, which 2.5 million citizens – 11,000 short of the number needed to make the results of the plebiscite mandatory – supported.
A senior European Parliament politician on Wednesday called on the Albanian opposition Democratic Party not to block a judicial reform – the main step toward launching Albania’s membership negotiations with the European Union. Albania’s Democrats, who have been protesting for a week for free and fair elections in June, plan to boycott parliament next week. That may stop the justice system reform, which aims to create institutions for the vetting of some 800 judges and prosecutors. The reform seeks to root out bribery and ensure that judges and prosecutors are independent from politics. Brussels says its implementation is key to Albania’s effort to become an EU member.
The man behind an online petition calling for the Liberal government to recommit to its electoral reform pledge says early signs of a flip-flop from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prompted him to launch the initiative months before last Wednesday’s announcement. Inspiring the petition was Justin Trudeau’s interview in Le Devoir on Oct. 19. “In that interview, he signalled electoral reform might not happen because, he said, support for it had waned,” petitioner Jonathan Cassels told CBC News. Cassels, who works in banking, said he often engages in political discussions via social media. But when he expressed concern over the prime minister’s words online, Cassels said he received dozens of responses.
Abandoning a major campaign promise, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government dropped plans on Wednesday to overhaul the country’s electoral system. The move, which prompted one opposition member of parliament to call Trudeau “a liar,” adds to pressure the Liberal Party prime minister is already facing for controversies surrounding cash-for-access fundraisers as well as an ethics probe into a vacation at a private island over the New Year’s holiday. Trudeau had promised during the 2015 election campaign that Canada would have a new voting system in place by the 2019 election, a reform expected to benefit smaller parties, such as the left-leaning Green Party, which holds only one seat in parliament.
About two-thirds of Canadians are generally satisfied with the country’s democracy, but just as many think parties should make decisions collaboratively, says a report on the Liberal government’s online survey about electoral reform. It also says Canadians may be open to changes – if the new system is easy to understand. The findings from the much-maligned MyDemocracy.ca survey, released Tuesday by Democratic Institutions Minister Karina Gould, show 50 per cent of respondents are “somewhat satisfied” with the way democracy works in Canada, and another 17 per cent are very satisfied. Still, the survey said 70 per cent of respondents also want a government where several parties agree before a decision is made. And 62 per cent, almost two-thirds, agreed at least in part that it’s better for several parties to govern together, even if it takes longer for the government to get things done.
The party of outgoing Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has submitted the draft of a new Electoral Code that provides for a switch of Bulgaria’s voting system. The text has been created by GERB lawmakers Danail Kirilov and Dimitar Lazarov. It constitutes yet another attempt of the main ruling party – the senior partner in the outgoing coalition government – to pass a change of the electoral system, from one of proportional representation to majority voting. On Wednesday, lawmakers postponed the review of a bill that would have introduced first-past-the-post voting. Under the proposals, 240 single-seat constituencies will be created (Bulgaria’s legislature has 240 seats), all of them being in Bulgaria.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promoted first-time Burlington MP Karina Gould to cabinet, tasking her with delivering on the Liberals’ troubled promise to reform Canada’s elections. Gould was one of three rookie MPs elevated to cabinet Tuesday, replacing Peterborough MP Maryam Monsef as Minister of Democratic Institutions. In that role, Gould will have the unenviable task of figuring out how to make good on Trudeau’s pledge to replace Canada’s 150-year old first-past-the-post electoral system. It’s a mission that Gould believes in, at least. “Electoral reform is the next step in (an) evolution toward a more inclusive system. We can build a better system that provides a stronger link between the democratic will of Canadians and the election results,” Gould said in the House of Commons last June.
Canada: Trudeau government to mail every household in Canada questions on electoral reform | National Post
The Trudeau government is mailing postcards to every Canadian household this month to find out how people feel about the way they elect MPs, the National Post has learned. More than 13 million full-colour postcards were being printed up this week which, when they land in mailboxes at the end of the month, will encourage Canadians to go to a website — mydemocracy.ca or mademocratie.ca — and answer questions about their democratic values. The websites are “parked” right now with Internet web hosting company GoDaddy.com but will go live no later than Dec. 1, said a senior government official. The online consultations, which will close Dec. 31, will be the last of three extensive rounds of consultations on electoral reform under way since the spring. This means the Trudeau government is expected to declare its preference for how, if it all, to change the way MPs are elected early in the new year.