[EDITORIALS]Reform meets politicsThe attitude of the Special Political Reform Committee of the National Assembly, where the revision of existing election laws is under discussion, is betraying our expectations and trust. While revising the law ostensibly for clean elections, the committee tried to reduce the regulatory power of the National Election Commission and protected the vested interest of lawmakers by banning non-members’ fund-raising activities. If they try to revise the rules of the game in their favor, although they hold legislative power, they are clearly not interested in fair elections.
The committee agreed earlier that the work of the election commission would be crippled if the Assembly deprived the commission of the right to demand material related to law violations, to call in violators for questioning about illegal entertainment of voters or of bribery or to collect evidence. We understand that the committee has also lowered the penalties for election law violations so that lawmakers can keep their seats despite violations. That is tantamount to condoning illegal election activities. Many committee members have bad feelings toward the election commission because of the commission’s harsh investigations of election irregularities.
It is fortunate that the committee decided to leave the commission with most of its powers, considering the strong public backlash it would have generated had it kept on its original course. It is just collective egoism that the committee decided, however, not to legalize support groups for candidates for local council seats. They should also be criticized for not raising the ceiling on donations for candidates running in party primary elections.
Despite those failings, it is an overreaction for Our Open Party to talk of blocking the passage of the law by force or by the exercise of a presidential veto. If the party drives the situation to confrontation, despite the fact that its demands for retention of the commission’s rights were met, the party will be seen as having a different objective. It has also said it would block the bill as long as its demand for changes to the electoral district system is not met. It should not mix election reforms with districting issues.
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