Electoral Processes

   

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

EUOECD
 
Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
10
Australia
The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is an independent statutory authority that oversees the registration of candidates and parties according to the registration provisions of Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The AEC is accountable for the conduct of elections to a cross-party parliamentary committee, the joint standing committee on electoral matters (JSCEM). JSCEM holds inquiries into and reports on any issues relating to electoral laws and practices and their administration.

There are no significant barriers to registration for any potential candidate or party. A party requires a minimum of 500 members who are on the electoral roll. A candidate for a federal election must be an Australian citizen, without dual citizenship, at least 18 years old and must not be serving a prison sentence of 12 months or more, or be an undischarged bankrupt or insolvent.

There have been no changes to the laws relating to candidacy procedures in the period under review, and the process remains open, transparent and in line with international best practices. However, in October 2017, following revelations that at least seven parliamentarians held citizenship of another country – in most cases by ancestry rather than by birth – the High Court ruled that five parliamentarians were ineligible to serve as members of Australia’s parliament. This generated considerable political instability.
Canada
The right to be a candidate in a federal election is laid down in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, with the associated procedures and responsibilities specified in the Canada Elections Act. There are virtually no restrictions on becoming a candidate for election. Almost all Canadian citizens 18 years old or over can present themselves as candidates for federal elections. Exceptions include members of provincial or territorial legislatures, certain judges, election officers, people who were candidates in a previous election but who did not conform to the expense-reporting rules, and persons imprisoned in a correctional institution. There is no cost to being a candidate in a federal election. A CAD 1,000 deposit is required, but this is reimbursed if the candidate’s official agent submits the electoral campaign return after the election within the prescribed time. Administrative procedures are not onerous (a nomination form is required containing signatures by either 50 or 100 people residing in the constituency in which the candidate wants to run, with the number depending on the electoral district’s population).
Czechia
Electoral registration procedures are fair and transparent. To establish a political party, three citizens aged 18 or over need to submit the new party’s statutes to authorities, backed by 1,000 signatures. The 1991 law on political parties and movements establishes conditions to exclude parties lacking democratically elected organs or that aim to remove the democratic foundations of the state, restrict the freedoms of other parties, or threaten morality and public order. There are occasional calls to ban the Communist party, but no legal steps have been taken and there is no consensus that such measures are necessary. As of November 2018, there were 232 active political parties and political movements. In the 2018 municipal elections, 82% of the 216,501 candidates had no party affiliation (mostly independents, but also non-partisans running on party lists). Since 2012, the president of Czechia has been elected by citizens in a direct election. Any citizen with the right to vote who has reached 40 years of age is eligible to run for election for a maximum of two consecutive five-year terms.
Denmark
The basic rule for candidacy procedures is laid out in section 30 of the Danish constitution: “Any person who is entitled to vote at general (parliamentary) elections shall be eligible for membership of the Folketinget, unless he has been convicted of an act which in the eyes of the public makes him unworthy to be a member of the Folketinget.” It is the unicameral parliament (Folketinget) itself, which, in the end, decides whether a conviction makes someone unworthy of membership. In practice, political parties play an important role in selecting candidates for elections. It is possible to run in an election in a personal capacity, but extremely difficult to be elected that way. Given the relatively high number of political parties, it is reasonably easy to become a candidate for a party. There is also the possibility of forming a new party. New parties have to collect a number of signatures to be able to run, corresponding to 1/175 of the number of votes cast at the last election.
Citations:
The Constitutional Act of Denmark of June 5, 1953, http://www.eu-oplysningen.dk/upload/application/pdf/0172b719/Constitution%20of%20Denmark.pdf (accessed 15 April 2013).

Henrik Zahle, Dansk forfatningsret I: Institutioner og regulering. Copenhagen: Christian Ejlers‟ Forlag, 2005.

Jørgen Grønnegård Christensen og Jørgen Elklit (eds.) Det demokratiske system. 4. udgave. Hans Reitzels Forlag, 2016.
Estonia
The principles of fair and free elections are laid out in the Estonian constitution. Estonia has a proportional representation electoral system, which means that most candidates are registered within party lists. The composition of party lists is a matter of internal procedures that are set by the statute of the political party. Only officially registered political parties can nominate candidate lists in parliamentary elections. In order to be registered, a political party must have at least 500 permanent members, the lists of whom are made public online. For each candidate, a deposit equal to the monthly minimum wage must be paid. In addition to political parties, two or more citizens can form an election coalition to participate in municipal elections. Every person who has the right to stand as a candidate may nominate him or herself as an independent candidate. Independent candidates can participate in parliamentary, local and European Parliament elections.

The largely ceremonial Estonian president is elected by the parliament or a special Electoral College composed of members of parliament and representatives of local councils. Candidates must be nominated by at least one-fifth of the serving members of parliament.
Citations:
Estonian National Electoral Committee https://www.valimised.ee/en
Finland
The electoral process in Finland is free and fair, and the country’s constitution grants Finnish citizens the right to participate in national elections and referendums. Registered political parties have the right to nominate candidates, though all voters have the right to influence the nomination process. Electoral associations of at least 100 enfranchised citizens also have the right of nomination. However, the role of these associations has been marginal. Candidates for presidential elections can be nominated by any political party that is represented in parliament at the time of nomination. Candidates may also be nominated by associations of at least 20,000 enfranchised citizens. President Sauli Niinistö, who was re-elected by an overwhelming majority in the 2018 elections, preferred to be nominated by a voters’ association rather than a specific political party and collected more than 150,000 supportive signatures for this purpose.

Presidential candidates must be Finnish citizens by birth, while young people under guardianship and those in active military service cannot stand as candidates in parliamentary elections. The procedure for registering political parties is regulated by the Party Law of 1969. Parties which fail to elect representatives to parliament in two successive elections are removed from the list of registered parties. However, by gathering signatures of 5,000 supporters, a party may be re-registered.
Citations:
Dag Anckar and Carsten Anckar, “Finland”, in Dieter Nohlen and Philip Stöver, eds. Elections in Europe. A Data Handbook, Nomos, 2010.
France
The electoral process is fair at all levels, and controls by ad hoc commissions or the judiciary ensure the smooth running of elections. There are some restrictions to assure that only serious candidates stand in presidential contests. These include a requirement that each potential candidate has to obtain 500 signatures of support from elected persons, such as mayors or senators, from a third of French départements, or counties, to prove his or her political relevance. In addition, candidates must pay a deposit of €15,000. But these restrictions do not limit the number or variety of political backgrounds of candidates. Further restrictions to limit abuses were implemented in 2017. Spending is capped and now includes expenses for the primaries. In most local and national elections, many candidates decide to run as they often can benefit from advantages that help facilitate the variety of candidates, such as the free provision of electoral materials or a partial reimbursement of expenses for candidates who win more than 5% of the vote. Electoral fraud is exceptional but financial cheating is frequent as evidenced by the condemnation of Nicolas Sarkozy for the hidden costs of his 2012 campaign. Some limitations are imposed on anti-constitutional parties. These restrictions, however, are exceptional.
Germany
On 24 September 2017, elections were held to constitute the new German Bundestag. A total of 42 parties and 111 independent candidates contested the elections. Germany’s constitution ensures that members of the Bundestag, the country’s lower parliamentary house, are elected in general, direct, free, equal and secret elections for a legislative period of four years (Basic Law, Arts. 38, 39). Parties that defy the constitution can be prohibited by the Federal Constitutional Court. In January 2017, following a complaint by the Länder governments regarding the far-right National Democratic Party (NPD), the Federal Constitutional Court decided that while the party is without any doubt unconstitutional in its program and actions, there are no indications that the party will succeed in achieving its anti-constitutional aims. Therefore, the suit to ban the NPD failed.

The Political Parties Act (Parteiengesetz, PPA) sets general criteria for the management of political parties and candidates. While independent candidates have to fulfill a signature gathering prerequisite (modest by international standards) in order to qualify for the ballot, parties must meet strict organizational requirements (PPA Section II). If parties have continuously held at least five seats in the Bundestag or a state parliamentary body (Landtag) during the last legislative period, they are allowed run in the election without any initial approval from the Federal Election Committee (Bundeswahlausschuss, FEC).
Greece
There is no discrimination in registration procedures nor are potential candidates or parties prevented from participating in elections. Exceptions include active military officers, who cannot run for office. Prison convicts are the only citizens that can face voting restrictions: prisoners serving either indefinite or life sentences are disqualified, otherwise the matter is left to the discretion of the sentencing court.

Before elections, parties and candidates are required to submit a petition to the highest civil and criminal court (Areios Pagos) which monitors formalities such as checking that no other parties have the same name.

The legality or fairness of elections is not challenged by parties nor candidates. Despite the acute political conflict with respect to the causes and management of the crisis, the conduct of electoral procedures in Greece is reliable. Indeed, the two parliamentary elections which took place in Greece in January and September 2015 were smoothly organized and, in budgetary terms, cost much less than previous national elections (the first cost approximately €50 million and the second around €35 million).
Citations:
Regulations for registering a candidate are listed in article 55 of the constitution, while incompatibilities are listed in articles 56, 57 and 58. For the relevant provisions of the constitution, translated into English, see http://www.venice.coe.int/VOTA/en/s tart.html [accessed on 11.05.2013].
Ireland
On 6 May 2016, 70 days after the general election, a minority government – the first since 1997 – was formed by the previous taoiseach, Enda Kenny. This Fine Gael-led minority government replaced the two-party coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party that had taken office in March 2011. The 2011 general election had focused on the weakness of the economy after the four economic crises that had enveloped the economy between 2008 and 2011, namely the property market crash, banking collapse, fiscal downturn and financial crisis. In the 2011 general election, a highly dissatisfied electorate voted overwhelmingly against Fianna Fáil and its coalition partners enabling the coalition of Fine Gael and the Labour Party to take office with the support of 113 of the 166 deputies.

Despite redressing the effects of the four economic crises and the return of high economic growth rates, the ruling coalition government was ousted from office. The outgoing Fine Gael-Labour Party coalition campaigned under the slogan of “let’s keep the recovery going.” However, this slogan failed to understand the experiences of a sizable proportion of the electorate. Many voters felt that they had not benefited from the apparent improvement in the economy. In the 2016 general election, the coalition government lost a combined 57 seats with Fine Gael losing 27 seats and the Labour Party losing 30 seats. Fianna Fáil, the bête noire of the electorate in the previous election, regained 25 seats and Sinn Féin, an Irish republican party, increased its number of seats to 23.

The election also marked the further rise in the number of independents to 23 seats and marginal parties, including the Anti-Austerity Alliance–People Before Profit (6 seats), the Social Democrats (3 seats) and the Greens (2 seats). The 2016 general election was characterized by the high level of fragmentation of the party system with historically low levels of support for the three largest parties. The combined proportion of votes won by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party dropped to 56% from a long-term average of 84%.

The result of the 2016 general election has been described by leading political analysts, Michael Gallagher and Michael Marsh of Trinity College Dublin, as the election that nobody won.

Notwithstanding this, the two leading center-right parties Fine Gael (49 seats) and Fianna Fáil (44 seats) had sufficient seats to form a center-right government. The outgoing taoiseach, Enda Kenny, offered his Fianna Fáil counterpart, Micheal Martin, a full partnership government. However, initial discussions failed. Eventually, over two months after the election, Fianna Fáil agreed to abstain on votes relating to parliamentary confidence and supply until the end of 2018 (with a provision to renew this arrangement). This enabled Kenny to form a Fine Gael minority government with the support of nine independent deputies, three of whom were given senior ministerial positions. The replacement of Kenny by Varadkar as taoiseach in 2017 did not change this political arrangement. The threat of a general election in December 2017 was averted by the resignation of the tanaiste, Frances Fitzgerald, on an issue relating to communications during the Garda whistleblower inquiry. She was subsequently cleared of all wrong-doing.

The impact of gender quotas significantly changed candidate selection processes for the 2016 general election. The Electoral (Amendment) (Political Funding) Act 2012 encourages political parties to select at least 30% female candidates with the threshold rising to 40% by 2023. Parties that fail to reach this threshold lose half of their state funding. This reform had an immediate impact on the 2016 general election. In 2011, 15% of selected candidates were women. In 2016, this had increased to 29.6%. In terms of women elected as teachta dálas (members of parliament), the improvement was more modest, but still rose from 15% in 2011 to 22% in 2016. Interestingly the adoption of quotas did not change voting behavior. The Irish electorate (with the partial exception of supporters of Fianna Fáil) appear to be largely “gender blind:” people cast their vote for candidates based on their party affiliation, political experience and quality more generally. (See McElroy 2018 for more detail).
Citations:
Michael Gallagher and Michael Marsh (eds.) How Ireland Voted 2016 The Election that Nobody Won (Palgrave Macmillan published by Springer International, Switzerland, 2016)
Michael Gallagher, “Ireland’s Earthquake Election: Analysis of the Results,’ in Michael Marsh and Michael Gallagher (eds) How Ireland Voted 2011: The Full Story of Ireland’s Earthquake Election. London: Palgrave.
Fiach Kelly. “Kenny’s ceann comhairle move could bring trouble his way,’ The Irish Times, 9 Jan. 2016.

Fiona Buckley, Yvonne Galligan and Claire McGing, ’ Women and the Election: Assessing the Impact of Gender Quotas,’ in Michael Gallagher and Michael Marsh (eds.) How Ireland Voted 2016 The Election that Nobody Won (Palgrave Macmillan).
Michael Marsh, David Farrell and Gail McElroy (2017, eds). A Conservative Revolution? Electoral Change in Twenty-First Century Ireland. Oxford University Press.
Michael Marsh, David Farrell and Theresa Reidy (2018, eds). The Post-Crisis Irish Voter. Manchester University Press.
Gail McElroy (2018) ‘The Impact of Gender Quotas on Voting Behaviour in 2016,’ in Marsh, Farrell and Ready (2018, eds – listed above).
Norway
Procedures for registering candidates and political parties are considered to be fair, and have not been questioned or debated publicly in recent years. No candidate or party faces discrimination. The only requirement for starting a party is that at least 5,000 signatures from Norwegian citizens who have the right to vote must be collected. Parties nominate candidates.
Slovakia
The procedures for registering candidates and parties in Slovakia are fair and transparent. Regulations governing the electoral process were consolidated in the 2014 election code. Provisions regarding the registration of parties and candidates are liberal and ensure a fair registration procedure. Candidates for presidency must be nominated by at least 15 members of the unicameral National Council or document support from at least 15,000 voters. While independent candidates cannot run for office, candidate lists for parliamentary elections can be nominated by registered political parties, movements and coalitions. For registration, the nominating organizations must obtain 10,000 signatures and make a deposit of €17,000, which is returned only to candidate lists that receive at least 2% of the vote. In October 2018, parliament passed an amendment to the Act on Political Parties which changed the rules for the registration of parties for parliamentary elections and elections to the European Parliament. It has introduced the new requirement of a minimum number of party members of 300 and has banned the use of an individual’s name in the names of parties. Promoted by the Slovak National Party (SNS), a junior coalition party, the amendment was directed against elite party projects with less than 100 party members such as Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Ordinary People and Independent personalities (OLaNO) and We Are Family – Boris Kollár (Sme rodina – Boris Kollár). However, none of these parties has announced plans to challenge the amendment as discriminatory.
Citations:
N.N. (2018): New law introduces membership regulations for political parties. In: Slovak Spectator, October 17 (https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20939322/new-law-introduces-membership-regulations-for-political-parties.html).
Slovenia
In Slovenia, the legal provisions for registering candidates and parties provide for a fair registration procedure for both national (parliamentary, presidential), local (mayoral, council) and sub-local (village or city district council) elections. Registration requirements are straightforward and not very demanding. Establishing a party requires only 200 signatures. The registration requirements for national parliamentary elections favor parties represented in parliament. Unlike non-parliamentary parties or non-party lists, they are not required to collect voter signatures. Candidates for the presidency must document support from at least ten members of parliament or 5,000 voters. When they are backed by at least one political party, three members of parliament or 3,000 signatures are sufficient. At local elections, a candidate for mayor and candidate or list of candidates for a municipal council can be proposed either by political parties or by a specified number of voters, which is dependent on the size of a municipality. Candidate lists both for national parliamentary elections and municipal assembly elections must respect a gender quota. On each list of candidates, neither gender should be represented by less than 40% of the total number of candidates on the list. Nine candidates ran for office in the presidential elections in October and November 2017, 25 political parties and lists competed in the parliamentary elections in June 2018.
Citations:
OSCE/ OHDIR (2017): Republic of Slovenia: Presidential Election, 22 October 2017. Final Report. Warsaw (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/slovenia/363561?download=true).

OSCE/ OHDIR (2018): Republic of Slovenia: Early Parliamentary Elections, 3 June 2018. Final Report. Warsaw (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/slovenia/394106?download=true).
Sweden
During the period under review, the electoral process was free and fair. Parties or candidates were not treated differently on any grounds.

Candidates are selected and ranked within the party organizations with essentially no public rules guiding the process. Political representation in Sweden is overwhelmingly collective representation. Since 1998, there has been the opportunity to indicate preferences not just for a particular party but also for specific candidates, but voters tend to vote for parties rather than for individual candidates. This culture of representation gives parties a central role in candidate selection. Against that backdrop it is perhaps not very surprising that indicating preferences for specific candidates has, with a few exceptions, not had a major impact on outcomes.
Citations:
Bengtsson, Åsa et al. (2014), The Nordic Voter. Myths of Exceptionalism (Colchester: ECPR Press).

Karlsson, D. and M. Gilljam (2014), Svenska politiker. Om de folkvalda i riksdag, landsting och kommun (Stockholm: Santérus).

Oscarsson, H. and S. Holmberg (2014), Svenska väljare (Stockholm: Wolters Kluwer).

Oscarsson, Henrik (2017) Det svenska partisystemet i förändring, in: Ulrika Andersson, Jonas Ohlsson,
Henrik Oscarsson, Maria Oskarson (eds.): Larmar och gör sig till, Göteborgs universitet: SOM-institutet, 411-427.
Switzerland
There are no doubts that Switzerland’s formal procedures correspond closely to the democratic ideal. However, some challenges have emerged due to the country’s small size, its strong dependence on other countries, the opportunities to free ride in the international and particularly European communities, and the extremely large share of immigrant workers.

With regard to active and passive voting rights, there is the obvious challenge that in 2018 25% of the total population and 31% of the country’s civilian workforce held foreign citizenship, a much higher share than in other countries. The strict rules governing naturalization and sheer size of the foreign population transform the “quantitative” problem of every modern democracy (that some adult inhabitants face discrimination on grounds of their nationality) into a qualitative problem: if almost a third of the social product is produced by foreigners, and if almost a quarter of the voting-age population is not entitled to vote or to run for public office, the legitimacy of parliament and government to rule on behalf of the total population (which is vastly more than the citizen base) is arguably called into question. Others argue, however, that while the economy is globalized, democracy functions only on the basis of a national society that identifies itself in terms of citizenship. This includes the (constitutional) right to define who is eligible for citizenship. According to this view, migration certainly creates new problems, in that the “demos” and the resident population do not coincide.

To date, Switzerland has dealt with these problems somewhat slowly and hesitantly. For example, some notable liberalizing changes were adopted with regard to naturalization (e.g., costs have been substantially reduced) and with regard to passive voting rights in some cantons and local communities.
USA
Procedures for registering parties and candidates are fair and nondiscriminatory. State governments determine the requirements for ballot access, so the details vary across states. All states, however, require a party or candidate to collect signatures on a petition and to file the petition by a specified deadline. Parties and candidates who meet the requirements are included on the ballots. In addition to the dominant Democratic and Republican parties, several minor parties or independent candidates are often included. In some cases, the ballot-access requirements may be a burden for smaller parties or independent candidates. But the single-member-district, plurality-election system precludes victory by such participants anyway. In general, ballot access has not been controversial, and no major problems regarding ballot access have been reported in recent elections.
9
Austria
The Austrian constitution and the laws based on the constitution are consonant with the framework of liberal democracy. They provide the conditions for fair, competitive and free elections. Parties based on the ideology of National Socialism are excluded from participation, but there has never been an attempt to exclude other parties considered to be outside the accepted mainstream of democracy (such as the Communist Party). Persons younger than 16 years of age cannot vote or stand for office.

There is ongoing debate on how best to handle the system of proportional representation that is enshrined in the Austrian constitution. The system contains a 4% electoral threshold; parties must receive at least this share of the national vote in order to gain a parliament seat, a policy ostensibly designed to minimize the deconcentrating tendency of proportional representation systems. Nevertheless, critics of the system argue that proportional representation as implemented in Austria prevents clear majorities, thus making it difficult to obtain a direct mandate to govern from the voters. Coalitions are a necessity. A system based on single-member constituencies would increase the possibility that single-party governments could be elected, but at the cost of limiting smaller parties’ chances for survival. Thus, though the current system is criticized for undermining the efficiency of government, it is considered to be more democratic than the alternatives.

The elections of a new federal president in 2016 has inspired a heated debate about technicalities of the electoral process. The results of the second round of the presidential elections was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court due to some irregularities and then postponed again because some absentee ballots were not properly sealed. But this did not imply that the procedure was viewed as a failure. On the contrary, this can be seen as proof that the constitutional checks and balances are working.
Bulgaria
There have been no elections and no changes in the electoral framework in Bulgaria since March 2017. The present electoral code has been in force since 2014. Registration of parties and candidates is broadly fair and transparent. The registration of candidates requires a prospective candidate to be registered as a member of a party, coalition of parties or nominating committee with the Central Electoral Commission. For the registration of parties or nominating committees, a bank deposit and a certain number of citizen signatures are required. Under the present legislation, people holding citizenship of a country outside the European Union are not allowed to run in elections. Citizens of other EU member states can only run for municipal councils and the European Parliament. While this provision has not yet played any role in practice, it may violate the European Convention on Human Rights. Another often-criticized constitutional clause prohibits the formation of “ethnically based” parties, which has been used in the past to try to stop a party registering for election, although this attempt was ultimately struck down by the courts.

In the case of the presidential elections in November 2016, there were 24 candidates, three of whom were refused registration by the central electoral commission. The three refusals were based on failure by the nominating committees to demonstrate the required number of citizens’ signatures supporting the nomination. None of the refused candidates were perceived as viable, so their exclusion did not have a meaningful effect. Having 21 running candidates for president in a country of seven million indicates relatively liberal candidate registration.

In the case of the parliamentary elections in March 2017, there were 18 parties and nine coalitions registered. Six parties and coalitions were denied registration for the elections. In one case, the reason was a change in the name of the party, the party appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court, won the appeal and was registered. In the other five cases, the reason for refusal of registration was the insufficient number of citizen signatures secured by the respective party or coalition. In all cases, the refusals were upheld by the court.
Citations:
OSCE/ OHDIR (2016): Republic of Bulgaria: Presidential Election 2016. Needs Assessment Mission Report. Warsaw (https://www.osce.org/office-for-democratic-institutions-and-human-rights/elections/bulgaria/248771?download=true).

OSCE/ OHDIR (2017): Republic of Bulgaria: Early Parliamentary Elections, 17 March 2017. Limited Election Observation Mission, Final Report Warsaw. (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/bulgaria/327171?download=true).
Chile
In general terms, candidates and parties are not discriminated against in the registration process. Electoral procedures are very reliable and there is no ideological bias.

Beginning with the 2013 presidential election, a non-compulsory primary-election system (primarias) for the designation of presidential candidates was established. The 2013 presidential and congressional elections showed a slight improvement due to the fact that one of the two main coalitions, the former Concertación – now renamed Nueva Mayoría – broadened its ideological spectrum in order to integrate several small leftist parties (Partido Comunista; Izquierda Ciudadana; Movimiento Amplio Social). Under the second government of Michelle Bachelet, these political forces were also assigned ministerial responsibility. This can be regarded as an improvement within Chilean democracy in general.

Also, the Electoral Service (Servicio Electoral de Chile, SERVEL) has been assigned a wider range of oversight mechanisms regarding registration procedures. It has also been given more autonomy from other state organs, with the aim of ensuring more efficient monitoring of the registration process and of political-party and campaign financing. To a certain degree, this shift can be seen as a response to the electoral fraud that occurred in 2013, when two independent candidates forged signatures in order to meet the candidate-registration threshold. Both were found guilty in 2014.

In April 2015, a new electoral law (Law No. 20,840) was enacted that replaced the 25-year-old binominal electoral system for parliamentary elections with a system of “proportional and inclusive representation.” The allocation of seats continues to based on the D’Hondt method, but now in multimember districts of smaller magnitude (3 to 8 deputies and 2 to 5 senators). Further changes include the following:

- An increase in the overall number of deputies (from 120 to 155) and senators (from 38 to 50);
- A reduction in the number of districts and constituencies for the election of the Chamber of Deputies (from 60 to 28);
- A reduction in the number of districts and constituencies for the election of the Senate (from 19 to 15);
- The introduction of a gender quota applied to party lists: neither males nor females may exceed 60% of the total number of candidates presented by a party (up to 2029);
- An increase in the amount of state reimbursement for each vote received by female candidates and the introduction of a gender bonus of about $20,000 for each woman elected as deputy or senator (up to 2029);
- A lowering of the requirements for creating parties. The number of signatures parties must collect decreased from 0.5% of the voters in the last election for the Chamber of Deputies in eight of the 15 regions or in three geographically contiguous regions to only 0.25%, but limited to the region in which they are registered;
- The introduction of the M+1 rule: unlike the binominal system, each party list must now include as many candidates as seats are to be distributed, plus one. As before, the lists are open.
- Electoral pacts between parties are only allowed at the national level.
In December 2016, another electoral law (Law No. 20,990) was enacted which introduced the direct popular election of the executive branch of the twelve regions in which the country is administratively divided. The former “Intendentes” which were designated by the central government will be replaced by elected “Gobernadores Regionales” in order the foster decentralization and citizen participation. The office term will be four years and only one consecutive reelection possible. To be elected, a candidate requires at least 40% of the valid votes in the first round or more than 50% in the runoff (second round between the two candidates with the most votes).
The new electoral system for congress was first applied in the legislative elections of November 2017 together with the presidential election. The first direct election of regional governors will take place in 2020.
Citations:
http://www.bcn.cl/leyfacil/recurso/nuevo-sistema-electoral-para-elecciones-parlamentarias-%28fin-del-sistema-binominal%29

https://www.bcn.cl/leyfacil/recurso/eleccion-democratica-de-gobernadores-regionales

Ricardo Gamboa/Mauricio Morales 2016: Country Note. Chile’s 2015 Electoral Reform: Changing the Rules of the Game, Latin American Politics and Society, 11 October 2016, 126-144. DOI: 10.1111/laps.12005, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/laps.12005/Abstract

http://www.gob.cl/consiste-la-eleccion-directa-gobernadores-regionales-aprobada-este-miercoles/

https://www.leychile.cl/Navegar?idNorma=1098725

https://www.efe.com/efe/america/politica/bachelet-promulga-una-ley-que-permitira-la-eleccion-directa-de-gobernadores-regionales/20000035-3136356#
Croatia
Candidacy procedures are largely fair and do not suffer from major procedural restrictions. However, participation in parliamentary elections is easier for registered parties than for independent lists. Whereas the latter must collect a certain number of signatures, political parties must do so only for the presidential elections, as well as in local elections for prefects and mayors. A legal amendment which would have introduced uniform requirements was repealed by the Constitutional Court in a controversial decision shortly before the parliamentary elections in November 2015. One peculiarity of Croatian electoral law is that candidate lists can be headed by people who are not actually candidates.
Citations:
OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Election Assessment Mission Final Report Republic of Croatia: Parliamentary Elections 8 November 2015, Warsaw, 8-9 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/croatia/223631?download=true).
Cyprus
No change took place in 2018 to requirements for the registration of candidates; they are minimal and relate to citizenship, age, mental soundness and criminal record. Candidates for the presidency of the republic must belong to the Greek community. Citizens of other EU states have voting rights and are eligible to run for office in local elections. Since 2014, voting rights and the eligibility to run for office in European parliamentary elections are conditionally extended to Turkish Cypriots residing in areas not under the government’s effective control. Citizens of non-EU countries have no voting rights. Simultaneously holding a public office and/or a post in the public service and/or a ministerial portfolio and/or an elected office is constitutionally prohibited.

The eligibility age to run for president is 35 and 25 for a member of parliament. The eligibility age for municipal and community councils, and the European Parliament was reduced from 25 to 21 years-old (2013). Candidate registration procedures are clearly defined, reasonable and open to media and public review. Candidacies must be proposed and supported by registered voters: the required number is two for local elections, four for parliamentary elections, and, since 2016, one voter proposing and 100 supporting a candidacy for presidential elections.

A financial deposit is also required from candidates running for office, ranging from €85 (community elections) to €2,000 for presidential elections. This sum is returned to candidates who meet vote thresholds specific to each election type.
Citations:
1. The Constitution of the Republic of Cyprus, http://www.presidency.gov.cy/presidency/presidency.nsf/all/1003AEDD83EED9C7C225756F0023C6AD/$file/CY_Constitution.pdf
2. The Law on the Election of the members of the House of Representatives, L.72/1979, in Greek, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1979_1_72/full.html
3. The Municipalities Law, 11/1985, unofficial English translation available at, http://www.ucm.org.cy/DocumentStrea m.aspx?ObjectID=966
4. The Communities Law, 86(I)/1999, available in Greek at, http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/1999_1_86/full.html
5. The Law on the Election of Members of the European Parliament 10(I)/2004, available in Greek at http://www.cylaw.org/nomoi/enop/non-ind/2004_1_10/full.html
Iceland
Most Icelandic citizens aged 18 years or over can run for parliament. Exceptions include Supreme Court justices and adult individuals convicted of a serious felony or sentenced to four months or more in custody. For local elections, with the exception of the minimum age limit, these restrictions do not apply. Citizens of other Nordic countries with three years’ consecutive residence in Iceland can stand as candidates in local elections. The registration process for candidates and parties is transparent and fair.

The minimum 5% share of the national vote required to get leveling seats (jöfnunarþingsæti) in parliament was set in 2000. In addition to this 5% threshold, parties can win a seat by securing a majority of the vote within a constituency. This minimum threshold is the same as in Germany and higher than in the other Nordic countries (Sweden and Norway 4%, Denmark 2%).

A consequence of this system is that many votes fail to directly influence the results. As many as 12% of the votes in 2013 won no parliamentary representation, as they went to candidates or parties that failed to win a constituency seat or polled less than 5% of the national vote. This was the largest share of unrepresented votes in Iceland’s modern history. This result was due mainly to a record 15 parties running for parliament in 2013. This rate has since declined. In the 2016 elections, parties that did not reach the 5% threshold received a combined 5.7% of the total vote. This rate further declined to only 1.6% of the total vote in the 2017 elections. So, despite the fluctuation, this does not seem to be a constant problem.
Citations:
Bengtsson, Å., Hansen, K. M., Harðarson, Ó. T., Narud, H. M. and Oscarsson, H. (2014), The Nordic Voter. Myths of exceptionalism. Essex. ECPR Press.

Lög um kosningar til Alþingis nr. 24/2000 (Law on parliamentary elections nr. 24/2000).

Lög um breytingar á lögum um kosningum til Alþingis nr. 16/2009 (Law on changes in law on parliamentary elections nr. 24/2000).

Lög um kosningar til sveitarstjórna nr. 5/1998 (Law on local elections nr. 5/1998).
Italy
The registration procedure is fair and no unreasonable exclusion exists. The number of signatures requested for registration of parties creates some obstacles to new and small parties, but similar small obstacles are accepted in many democracies to avoid non-serious candidacies. The validity of the process is controlled by independent judicial offices. From time to time there have been disputes over the validity of some of the signatures collected by the largest parties. The procedures for the choice of candidates vary from party to party, but there is an increasing use of primaries to make them more open and democratic.

The old electoral system was based on closed electoral lists in large districts. Consequently, voters had no option of expressing a preference for a single candidate, but had to accept the whole party ticket. The new electoral law, approved in November 2017, envisages a mixed electoral system for both chamber and senate. One-third of the members of parliament will be elected in single-member districts; the other two-thirds will be elected through a proportional system in small multi-member districts.
Japan
Japan has a fair and open election system with transparent conditions for the registration of candidates. Candidates running in local electoral districts for the Lower House or the Upper House have to pay a deposit of JPY 3 million (around €23,300, plus an additional deposit of JPY 6 million if also running on the party list). This deposit is returned if the candidate receives at least one-tenth of the valid votes cast in the electoral district. The deposit is meant to deter candidatures that are not serious, but in effect presents a hurdle for independent candidates. The minimum age for candidates is 25 for the Lower House and 30 for the Upper House.
Citations:
Leo Lin, The High Cost of Running for Office, Tokyo Review, 28 August 2017, http://www.tokyoreview.net/2017/08/election-deposits-japan/
Latvia
Candidacy procedures provide everyone with an equal opportunity to be an election candidate. Some restrictions, related to Latvia’s Soviet past, are in place.

While political parties are the only organizations with the right to submit candidate lists for parliamentary elections, multiparty electoral coalitions have not been abolished and are indeed the rule. At the local government level, this party-list restriction applies to all large municipalities. However, candidates in small municipalities (less than 5,000 residents) have the right to form voters’ associations and submit nonpartisan lists. The restriction to partisan lists has been deemed limiting by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).


Registration as a political party is open to any group with at least 200 founding members. In 2016, a new threshold was set, which requires political parties to have at least 500 members before standing in national parliamentary elections.

The Central Election Commission (Centrālā Vēlēšanu Komisija, CVK) oversees the organization of elections. International observers have consistently recognized Latvia’s elections as free and fair. For example, the 2018 ODIHR REPORT expressed full confidence and trust in the professionalism and impartiality of election administration at all levels.
Citations:
1. The Saeima Election Law, Article 5 and 6, Available at: https://www.cvk.lv/pub/public/30870.html, Last assessed: 04.01.2019

2. OSCE: Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (2018), ODIHR Needs Assessment Mission Report, Available at: https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/latvia/387665?download=true, Last assessed: 04.01.2019

3. Valts Kalniņš (2011), Assessment of National Integrity System, p.99, Published by DELNA, Available at: https://www.transparency.org/files/content/pressrelease/20120309_Latvia_NIS_EN.pdf, Last assessed: 04.01.2019

4. Ivars Ijabs (2018), 2018 Parliamentary Elections in Latvia, Available at: http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/bueros/baltikum/14739.pdf, Last assessed: 04.01.2019
Lithuania
Lithuania’s regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections. In general, neither individual candidates nor parties are discriminated against. Minimal requirements for establishing a political party and registering candidacies produced a large number of candidates, and a broad choice of political alternatives in the 2012 and 2016 parliamentary elections. Independent candidates as well as party-affiliated candidates can stand for election. However, a few provisions should be noted. The provision that “any citizen…who is not bound by an oath or pledge to a foreign state…may be elected” does not conform to the evolving jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on dual citizenship. The court also ruled that the lifetime ban on standing for elected office on impeached former President Rolandas Paksas was disproportionate. However, this ban has not been lifted as votes in 2015 and 2018 in the Lithuanian parliament on his electoral eligibility were insufficient. As a consequence, Paksas was unable to run in the 2016 parliamentary elections and will likely remain unable to run in the 2019 presidential elections. In response to an inquiry initiated by a group of parliamentarians, the Constitutional Court ruled that the territorial boundaries of single-candidate constituencies should be redrawn to reduce population differences that had developed over time due to demographic changes and migration from the provinces to the capital. The decision of the Constitutional Court was implemented in December 2015, when the new constituencies were announced. A major change related to the establishment of two additional constituencies in Vilnius, where the number of voters has been constantly increasing. Allowing electoral committees, which benefit from more lax regulations than political parties, to run for municipal elections has been one of the more debated issues since the last elections in 2015; with the next elections approaching in 2019, some analysts argue that candidates running with electoral committees contributes to the further decline of already weak political parties.
Citations:
OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Mission Report on the 2016 parliamentary elections in Lithuania, see http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/lithuania/296446.
OSCE/ODIHR Election Assessment Report on the 2014 presidential elections in Lithuania, http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/116359?download=true
ECHR judgment of Jan. 6 of 2011 on Case of Paksas v. Lithuania, http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-102617#“itemid”:[“001-102617”].
Malta
Elections are regulated by the constitution and the General Elections Act. The system used in Malta is the Single Transferable Vote (STV). Candidates can stand either as independents or as members of a political party. Parties can field as many candidates as they wish, and candidates may choose to stand in two electoral districts. If elected in both districts, a candidate will cede their second seat. The vacated seat is then assigned to the candidate with the most second preference votes on the ballot. The system allows for a diversity of candidates and restrictions are minimal, though legal restrictions based on residency, certain official functions and court judgments exist. There have been persistent calls for electoral system reform on the basis of several issues. These include the lack of an official minimum threshold, absence of national quotas for parties to gain access to parliament, candidates are listed alphabetically, lack of correctives to encourage the election of female candidates and multiple candidates from the same party can be elected in the same district, the latter placing too much power in the hands of canvassers. The present electoral law does not allow coalitions of parties to contest elections formally, but does not prevent parties from arriving at pre-election agreements regarding future coalitions. Recent provisions to ensure proportionality only increase bipartisanship. There is also no state funding for parties, though the two main parties receive €100,000 annually, which may be used for campaigning. Meetings of the electoral commission are closed and there is an absence of representatives from non-parliamentary parties.
Citations:
Malta Today 05/07/17 Now is the time for Electoral reform
OSCE/ODIHR (2017) Election Assessment Mission Final Report - Malta
New Zealand
New Zealand has a rich history of free and fair elections and the electoral process is characterized by a very high level of integrity. The registration procedure for political parties and individual candidates in New Zealand, as specified in the 1993 Electoral Act, is fair and transparent. Following the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Act 2010, the tasks of the Electoral Commission and of the Chief Electoral Office have been combined within the Electoral Commission, which started work in October 2010. The Election Integrity Project, which measures each state of the electoral cycle by standardized 100-point scores, rated the integrity quality of 2017 parliamentary election as very high and noted especially high quality in the areas of party registristration, candidate procedure, district boundaries, vote counting and autonomy of the election management body. However, deficits have been noted in regard to voter registration, media access for political parties and campaign financing).
The Electoral Act specifies that registered political parties follow democratic procedures when selecting parliamentary candidates. While the two major parties adopt a mixture of delegate and committee systems when making their selections, the Greens give their membership the final say. The other small parties by contrast tend to be more centralized both in the way they select constituency candidates and in the compilation of their party lists. In September 2018 parliament passed, with the votes of the Greens, New Zealand First and Labour, a controversial amendment to the Electoral Integrity Bill (so-called “waka-jumping bill”). The bill, which was initially opposed by the Greens, had its roots in the defection of several members of parliament from the small parties, especially New Zealand First. The bill required that members of parliament who are expelled from or quit their party will automatically lose their seat, thereby triggering a by-election. Critics argue that this amendment will enable political parties to limit freedom of speech and ignore or reverse the will of voters. Supporters, on the other hand, argue that allowing parliamentarians to leave their parties while remaining in parliament distorts the proportionality of parliament and frustrates the will of affected voters.
Citations:
Miller, Raymond, ‘Selecting Candidates,’ in Miller, Party Politics in New Zealand, Oxford, 2005, pp 109-126.
Norris, Pippa, Thomas Wynter and Sarah Cameron. March 2018. Corruption and Coercion: The Year in Elections 2017. https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/the-year-in-elections-2017/
McCulloch, Craig. 27 September 2018. Waka-jumping bill passes into law after heated debate. https://www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/367427/waka-jumping-bill-passes-into-law-after-heated-debate
New Zealand Parliament. Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill, https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_75706/electoral-integrity-amendment-bill
Portugal
Individuals and political parties enjoy largely equal opportunities, both de jure and de facto, to register for and run in elections. Parties espousing racist, fascist or regionalist values are all constitutionally prohibited, as are parties whose names are directly related to specific religions.

While individual citizens can run in municipal elections, they are barred from contesting legislative elections, where only registered political parties can present candidates. The requirements for registering a party are relatively onerous. To be formed, parties must acquire the legally verified signatures of 7,500 voters. Moreover, they must ensure that their internal party rules and statutes obey the political-party law, which requires that parties’ internal functioning must conform to “the principles of democratic organization and management” (Article 5 of the Political Party Law – Lei dos Partidos Políticos), and defines several internal bodies that parties must have (Articles 24-27).

However, these requirements do not prevent parties and lists from forming and contesting elections. During the period under review, two new political parties were formally registered: Liberal Initiative, in December 2017; and Alliance, in October 2018. This raises the total to 23 registered political parties, of which 12 were registered in the last decade. With regional, legislative and European elections in 2019, it is likely that this number will further increase over the next year.
Citations:
On the laws see, for example, Eleição da Assembleia da República 1 / Outubro/1995: Legislação eleitoral actualizada e anotada (Lisbon: STAPE/MAI, 1995); and Lei dos Partidos Políticos (Political Party Law) – Lei Orgânica n.º 2/2003, de 22 de Agosto, com as alterações introduzidas pela Lei Orgânica n.º 2/2008, de 14 de Maio.

For the registration of parties, see: Tribunal Constitucional, “Partidos registados e suas denominações, siglas e símbolos,” available online at: http://www.tribunalconstitucional.pt/tc/partidos.html
Spain
Spain’s legal and administrative regulations for validating party lists and candidacies is fair and flexible. This was demonstrated in the elections of 2015 and 2016 when new parties participated for the first time in the general elections with winning one-third of seats in the parliament. Virtually every Spanish adult is eligible to run for public office. Legislation on gender parity (Organic Law 3/2007) requires party electoral lists to have a balanced gender representation, with each sex accounting for at least 40% of the total number of candidates.

Fair and nondiscriminatory registration is protected by a number of guarantees overseen both by the electoral administration and the courts, including the Constitutional Court through a fast-track procedure. The only restrictions on candidacies contained in the electoral law apply to specific public figures (the royal family, some public officials, judges, police officers and members of the military) and those who have been convicted of a crime. The elections in Catalonia in December 2017 were a special case, since several candidates were being held in custody ahead of trial during the elections, while others had fled the country. In July 2018, the Supreme Court confirmed that several of these deputies would be prosecuted for rebellion, disobedience and misuse of public funds. The independence leaders were automatically suspended as regional deputies and lost their voting rights.
Citations:
OSCE(2018), Elections in Spain, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/spain

December 2017, BBC, “PM Rajoy rejects Puigdemont talks call”
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-42458717
Netherlands
With a score of 80 out of 100 points the Netherlands ranked 8 out of 158 countries in the March 2018 Perceptions of Electoral Integrity Index, after Denmark (score 86), Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Germany and Costa Rica. Its highest scores are in the areas of electoral laws and electoral procedures; somewhat lower scores are in the areas of voter registration and party and candidacy registration.

The country’s electoral law and articles 53 through 56 of the constitution detail the basic procedures for free elections at the European, national, provincial and municipal levels. The independence of the Election Council (Kiesraad) responsible for supervising elections is stipulated by law.

All Dutch citizens residing in the Netherlands are equally entitled to run for election, although some restrictions apply in cases where the candidate suffers from a mental disorder, a court order has deprived the individual of eligibility for election, or a candidate’s party name is believed to endanger public order. Anyone possessing citizenship – even minors – can start a political party with minimal legal but considerable financial constraints. Some argue that party-membership and party-caucus rules strongly diminish formal equality with regard to electoral-system accessibility. Political parties with elected members receive state money (subsidies and other benefits), while qualifying as a new party necessitates payment of a considerable entry fee.
Citations:
P. Norris et al., March 2018. Corruption and Coercion: the Year in Elections, 2017

Eerlijke verkiezingen (eerlijke verkiezingen.nl, consulted 24 October 2018)

https://rm.coe.int/fourth-evaluation-round-corruption-prevention-in-respect-of-members-of/16808b322d
UK
In the United Kingdom, procedures for registering candidates and parties can generally be considered fair and without regulatory discrimination. The process of registration is uncomplicated, and the information required is offered by the state and easily accessible. No restrictions or regulations exist on party programs, but there are regulations limiting the choice of party name, which must not be obscene, offensive or misleading. The party emblem should also avoid these qualities. Registration as a candidate requires a deposit of £500 and the support of at least ten voters. Support from a party is not necessary, as candidates can run as independents, and many candidates do take advantage of this provision. Very occasionally, a candidate standing on a single issue achieves election, even in national elections.

Members of certain groups are not allowed to stand for election, namely those in the police, the armed forces, civil servants, judges and hereditary members of the House of Lords who retain a seat there. While this may be considered reasonably necessary in a democracy (although no such restrictions are in place in many similar democracies), it seems harder to justify the exclusion of people who have undergone bankruptcy or debt relief restriction orders because this is tantamount to a second punishment for financial mismanagement and thus discriminating against them.
 
A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
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Belgium
Standard legal restrictions, such as requiring a certain number of signatures before an individual may run as a candidate, are fair and are effective in controlling the number of candidates in any election. The same holds for parties, which can be relatively easily registered and at very little cost, even in a single constituency (or electoral “arrondissement”). In practice, however, such restrictions may represent a higher hurdle for smaller or local parties or candidates. One reason is that the registration process has been mastered by the more established parties, but poses more of a challenge for individual candidates. Most political parties offer a broad diversity of candidates along the dimensions of gender, age and ethnicity. Following successive reforms, gender rules are now quite specific, with mandatory quotas for electoral lists at all electoral levels (i.e., local, provincial, regional, federal and European). These rules are abided by the parties, though there remains overall a higher proportion of male candidates at the top of party lists (i.e., with a much higher chance of being elected).
Israel
Israel is an electoral democracy. While it does not have an official constitution, one of its basic laws (“The Knesset” 1958), which holds special standing in the Israeli legal framework, constitutes a general, free, equal, discrete, direct and proportional elections, to be held every four years. The Basic Law promises equal opportunity for each Israeli citizen (as well as Jewish settlers in the territories) to elect and to be elected under certain reasonable restraints. To be elected for the Knesset, a candidate has to be a citizen over the age of 21, with no incarceration of over a three-month period in the seven years prior to his/her nomination (unless authorized by the head of the central elections committee). If the nominee held a prominent public office (as specified in the written law) he or she must wait until the expiration of the cooling period. Under the party law of 1992, the general elections are led by the Central Elections Committee, which is in charge of organizing the actual elections procedurally and tallying the final votes. The committee is also authorized to reject a nominee or a list based on three clauses: if they reject Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity, if they support another country’s armed battle against Israel and/or supports a terror organization, or if they incite racism. Israel is ranked first in the Middle East in the Perception of Electoral Integrity and 38 in the global rank (scoring especially high for electoral procedures).

Due to its significant weight in the electoral process, the committee is chaired by a Supreme Court judge and is assembled according to a proportional system. This allows each faction in the Knesset to be represented. In addition, the formation of the group is meant to balance the political aspect of the committee with a judicial one to ensure proper conduct. In order to disqualify a nominee, the committee must receive authorization from the Supreme Court. In the 2015 elections the committee disqualified the nomination of parliament member Hanin Zohaby (Balad), and the extreme right-wing activist Baruch Marzel (Yachad), claiming that they were in breach of articles 2 and 3 respectively of the Knesset Basic Law. However, both decisions were reversed by the Supreme Court. Out of 12 disqualifications made by the central committee, the Supreme Court only upheld three: the socialist list (1964), kah (1988, 1992) and Kahana (1988). Last year, a bill was introduced in the Knesset, which would prevent the Supreme Court from upholding decisions made by the Central Elections Committee regarding which candidates may or may not run in an election. It has yet to be approved or rejected.

Another notable mark is the suspension law, which was enacted in 2016. The law allows for the suspension of a Knesset member, if a supermajority of the Knesset vote that the individual has deviated from the behavior expected of a member of the Knesset. The law drew much criticism, mostly from opposition members, but also from some members of the coalition. Most of the criticism revolved around the claim that the Knesset lacks the authority to suspend a member and that this authority should be given to the court. In addition, some raised concerns that the vote to suspend a member will be mostly influenced by political considerations and “will severely weaken Israel’s democratic character.” However, the law has never used against any member of the Knesset.
Citations:
Azolai, Moran. “The Suspension Law was approved in the Knesset,” 29.03.16, Ynet (Hebrew): http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-4784299,00.html

“Basic Laws: ‘The Knesset’” Knesset official website: www.knesset.gov.il/description/eng/ eng-mimshal_yesod1.htm (English)

Fuchs, Amir. “MK Suspension Bill: Anti-Democratic to the Core,” 06.06.2016
https://en.idi.org.il/articles/2357

Hezki, Baruch. “Bill to bar Supreme Court from deciding who can run for Knesset,” 26.10.17, Arutz Sheva: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/237241

Hobal, Ravital, “The majority of the judges rejected the petition regarding the election threshold,” 14.1.15, Haaraz (Hebrew): http://www.haaretz.co.il/news/elections/.premium-1.2538960

Htoka, Shusi. “Rivlin: the Suspension Law – an example of problematic understanding of the democracy,” 15.02.16: http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q1_2016/Article-5450e808bd5e251004.htm


Norris, P., Wynter, T and Cameron, S,. (2018). “Corruption and Coercion: The Year in Elections 2017,” The Electoral Integrity Project, https://www.electoralintegrityproject.com/the-year-in-elections-2017


Shamir, Michal and Margal, Keren, “Notions on threat and disqualification of lists and nominees for the Knesset: from Yardur to the 2003 election, Mishpat & Mimshal 8, tashsa, pp. 119-154 (Hebrew).

“Summary of laws relating to the general elections,” from the Knesset official website (Hebrew)
Luxembourg
The parliamentary elections of October 2018 have highlighted a number of problems in Luxembourg’s electoral system. Overall, the electoral system is strong and fair. In detail, however, small parties are at a disadvantage. On the one hand, this is due to the division of the country into four electoral districts and, on the other hand, it is due to the method of calculation used to determine the allocation of seats.

The division of Luxembourg into four electoral districts is outdated and urgently needs to be revised. It excludes smaller parties and reduces their chances of joining the parliament. In the East district, the conservative party ADR narrowly missed securing a mandate despite receiving 9.58% of the votes. In addition, the Pirates (7%) and Déi Lénk (3.3%) did not receive a seat. This means that around 20% of the votes cast in the East district were disregarded. At the same time, despite the massive loss of eight percentage points, the CSV party will retain its three seats in the East.

In the 2018 parliamentary elections, 37,000 people were registered on the electoral roll in the East district. In the Center district, 73,000 were registered, almost twice as many eligible voters as in the East. As a result, there are three times as many members of parliament for the Center (21) compared to members of parliament for the East (7) sitting in the parliament.

Moreover, the electoral code, which sets the number of members of parliament per constituency, is not consistent with Article 10 of the constitution, which states that Luxembourg citizens are equal before the law.
Citations:
“Élections législatives 2018.” https://elections.public.lu/fr/elections-legislatives/2018/resultats.html. Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

Fehlen, Fernand: “Wahlsystem und politische Kultur.” Forum, September 2013. https://forum.lu/pdf/artikel/7695_332_Fehlen.pdf. Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.

“Robert Mehlen veut contester le résultat des élections devant la justice.” http://5minutes.rtl.lu/grande-region/laune/1254993.html. Accessed 22 Oct. 2018.
Mexico
The electoral process is supervised by an autonomous agency, the Instituto Nacional Electoral (INE), following a constitutional reform in 2014 and the creation in 1990 of the Instituto Federal Electoral. INE is responsible for the registration of parties, candidates and voters, and for administering elections.
While in principle the process for registering political parties is open and transparent, high registration requirements as well as a bureaucratic and lengthy registration process create a strong status quo bias. To meet the requirements for registering a new national political party, organizations must demonstrate a minimum of 3,000 members, representation in at least 20 of the 32 states, and a minimum of 300 members in at least 200 electoral districts. Historically, the high barriers for party formation have served to discourage new and small political groups from challenging the established parties.
Since 2015, independent candidates have been allowed to run for office in national elections but the requirements for participating are high. To appear on the ballot, independent presidential candidates must collect more than 850,000 signatures nationally and obtain the support of at least 1% of registered voters in 17 states. In the 2018 elections, 48 independent candidates announced their candidacy for the presidency, but only two, Margarita Zavala and Jaime Rodríguez Calderón, managed to fulfill the requirements. After Zavala withdrew in May 2018, Rodríguez Calderón was the only independent candidate left, receiving 5.23% of votes in the presidential elections.

Close linkages between some candidates and organized crime, especially at the subnational level, as well as violence and corruption continue to undermine the integrity of the political system and the electoral process.
Citations:
Harbers, Imke and Matthew C. Ingram “On the engineerability of political parties: evidence from Mexico.” In:, I. van Biezen, and H. M. ten Napel. Regulating political parties: European democracies in comparative perspective (2014): 253-277.
Poland
Regulations governing the electoral process were consolidated within the election code in January 2011. Provisions regarding the registration of parties and candidates are liberal and ensure a fair registration procedure. Every Polish citizen has the right to stand for election. Senators need to be at least 30 years old, while presidential candidates must be at least 35. Candidates for the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish parliament) can be proposed by organizations such as parties or by voters themselves. A group of 1,000 individual citizens or more can form a so-called electoral committee by signing the proper documentation and submitting it to the National Electoral Commission. Parties representing ethnic minorities receive favorable treatment, as they are allowed to collect fewer signatures than required of “normal” parties in order to take part in elections. The election code also introduced a gender quota, mandating that men and women each must account for at least 35% of Sejm candidate lists. There were no signs of discrimination against specific candidates and parties in the presidential and parliamentary elections held in 2015.

Under the PiS government, electoral law was not an issue until the end of 2017, when the PiS pushed for changes in the rules for local elections and elections to the European Parliament, as well as for the selection of the National Election Commission (Państwowa Komisja Wyborzca, PKW) and its executive body, the National Election Office (Krajowe Biuro Wyborcze, KBW). With regard to the European Parliament elections, the government sought to favor large parties by conducting an overhaul of electoral districts. While this amendment to the law was approved by the Senate in July 2018, it was eventually vetoed by President Duda. The new rules for the selection of PKW and KBW members have increased the government’s influence on these two bodies and might make the process of registering parties and candidates less fair. From 2019 onwards, the members of the PKW will no longer be judges. Instead, seven out of nine members will be members of parliament. The head of the KBW will be selected by the PKW from a list of three candidates nominated by the minister of the interior. This minister will also be responsible for nominating the 100 commissioners who conduct the management of elections on the ground.
Citations:
Bodalska, B. (2018): Polish EP electoral code change potential flashpoint between Brussels and Warsaw, in: euractiv, July 31 (https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/polish-ep-electoral-code-change-potential-flashpoint-between-brussels-and-warsaw/).

Markowski, R. (2016): The Polish Parliamentary Election of 2015: A Free and Fair Election That Results in Unfair Consequences, in: West European Politics 39(6), 1311-1322.

OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Election Assessment Mission Final Report Poland: Parliamentary Elections 25 October 2015, Warsaw, 8-9 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/poland/217961?download=true).

Sadurski, W. (2018): Who will Count the Votes in Poland? in: Verfassungsblog, February 26 (https://verfassungsblog.de/who-will-count-the-votes-in-poland/).
South Korea
The National Election Commissions, an independent constitutional organ, manages the system of election bodies. Registration of candidates and parties at the national, regional and local levels is done in a free and transparent manner. However, deposit requirements for persons applying as candidates are relatively high, as are ages of eligibility for office.
The National Security Law allows state authorities to block the registration of so-called pro-North Korean parties and candidates, there is no evidence that this had a real impact in the 2017 presidential elections. However, the controversial decision of the Constitutional Court to disband the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) for being pro-North Korean in 2014 remains in force.
Citations:
Public Officials Election Act, Act No. 9974, Jan. 25, 2010 Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2009, New York: Freedom House
The Guardian 2014. South Korea court orders breakup of ‘pro-North’ left-wing party. Dissolution of Unified Progressive party raises questions of South’s commitment to democracy, 19 December 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/19/south-korea-lefwing-unified-progressive-party-pro-north
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Romania
Electoral legislation was amended in the first half of 2015 with an eye to the local and parliamentary elections in 2016. One amendment substantially lowered the typically high stakes involved in establishing a political party. Moreover, the requirement to submit financial deposits for candidate registration was lifted, and citizens have been allowed to support multiple candidates and parties with their signatures. Partly as a result of these changes, the number of parties participating in the parliamentary elections in December 2016 was relatively high.

A major problem that has not been addressed in the period under review, has been the candidacy rules for the four deputies and two senators elected by the Romanian diaspora. As criticized by the Federation of Romanians’ Associations in Europe and others, diaspora candidates were discriminated against in the 2016 parliamentary elections because they were required to collect 6,090 signatures rather than 1,000 to enter the race. Moreover, their electoral colleges extend across several countries, impeding the collection of required signatures.
Citations:
OSCE/ODIHR (2016): Needs Assessment Mission Report: Romania, Parliamentary Elections 11 December 2016, Warsaw, 6 (http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/romania/278346?download=true).
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Hungary
The far-reaching changes to Hungary’s electoral law in the run-up to the April 2014 parliamentary elections included amendments to registration procedures. The combination of decreased registration requirements and generous public funding for candidates and party lists has favored a surge in candidacies, with the evident aim of confounding voters and weakening the opposition. Right before the 2018 parliamentary elections there were about two hundred registered parties. Because individuals can sign up for several parties, many parties succeeded in collecting enough signatures to appear on the ballot. In some cases, the list of signatures for one party was simply copied by another. As a result, the party list was intransparent for many citizens, even more so as the names of some of the pseudo or fake parties were similar to those of opposition parties. Similarly, many candidates running in relatively big numbers in single member districts just picked up the money and disturbed the voters on the opposition side by causing uncertainty. Election commissions at both the central and constituency level largely failed to address cases of alleged signature fraud. While the votes for phantom parties cannot account for Fidesz’s victory as such, the presence of phantom parties may have been critical to Fidesz being able to regain a two-thirds majority.
Citations:
OSCE/ODIHR (2018): Hungary – Parliamentary Elections, 8 April 2018. Limited Election Observation Mission Final Report. Warsaw, 10-12 (https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/hungary/385959?download=true).
Turkey
The Turkish constitution, Law 298 on the basic principles of elections and the electoral registry, Law 2839 on deputies’ elections, and Law 2972 on local-administration elections lay the legal groundwork for fair and orderly elections and prevent discrimination against any political party or candidate. However, the relative freedom given to each political party’s central executive committee in determining party candidates (by Law 2820 on political parties, Article 37) renders the candidate-nomination process rather centralized, anti-democratic and exclusionary. The parliament weakened the centralization of political parties’ leadership to some extent in 2014 with the passage of a law permitting co-leadership structures. However, administrative courts and the Council of State stopped the co-mayoral practices of the HDP. Parties’ executive boards typically determine their parties’ candidate lists, with the exception of the Republican People’s Party, which holds a primary-election vote. An independent candidate who secures a majority of votes in his or her electoral district is allowed to take a parliamentary seat without regard to the nationwide threshold.

The nationwide 10% electoral threshold for parliamentary elections (Law 2839 on deputies’ elections, Article 33) is a major obstacle for all small political parties. In 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found the 10% electoral threshold to be excessive, but not in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights’ (ECHR) Protocol 1 Article 3. As of November 2018, there were 82 registered political parties, but only 10 of them participated in the 24 June 2018 parliamentary elections. The Party Law (Article 90/2) was amended in order to enable parties to form pre-electoral alliances in March 2018. The share of the representation of valid votes rose to 98%, and resulted in overrepresentation of big parties (8%) and underrepresentation of small parties (6%) in this parliament.

According to the constitutional amendments of 2017 (Article 101/3), political parties that either individually or as a coalition gained at least 5% of the total votes in the last parliamentary election can nominate a presidential candidate. In addition, independents can run as a presidential candidate if they collect at least 100,000 signatures for which notarization is not required in the 2018 elections.

Presidential candidates are not asked to pay a nomination fee; however, political parties require parliamentary candidates to pay a fee ranging from €250 to €1,700 in 2018. Women candidates are generally asked to pay half or less of the fee required from male candidates or no fee at all. Most political parties do not ask for a nomination fee from disabled candidates. Independent candidates face greater obstacles, as they must submit a nomination petition along with a fee of about €2,300 (TRY 13,916). This fee is held by the revenue department of the provincial election board where the candidate is standing for election and is registered as revenue by the Treasury if the candidate fails to be elected.

The early parliamentary and presidential elections in 2018 were held under the state of emergency, which was proclaimed after the averted coup attempt in 2016 and extended seven times until after the June 2018 elections.

Selahattin Demirtaş, who was the co-chair and presidential candidate of HDP, has been detained since 4 November 2016. Consequently, Demirtaş failed to take part in the 2017 referendum, or 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections freely. The ECtHR found Turkey in violation of Articles 5/3, 3 Protocol 1 and Article 18 (stifling pluralism and limiting freedom of political debate) and unanimously demanded that the Turkish government take all necessary measures to end the applicant’s pre-trial detention.
Citations:
Seçimlerin Temel Hükümleri ve Seçmen Kütükleri Hakkında Kanun İle Bazı Kanunlarda Değişiklik Yapılmasına Dair Kanun, 16 March 2018, http://www.resmigazete.gov.tr/eskiler/2018/03/20180316-28.htm, (accessed 27 October 2018)
Rıza Türmen, “OHAL altında seçim,” 9 May 2018, http://t24.com.tr/yazarlar/riza-turmen/ohal-altinda-secim,19650 (accessed 27 October 2018)
Selahattin Demirtaş v. Turkey, https://hudoc.echr.coe.int/eng-press#%22itemid%22:[%22003-6255331-8141045%22] (accessed 20 November 2018)
Supreme Board of Election, Decision 3237, 12 July 2014, http://www.ysk.gov.tr/ysk/content/conn/YSKUCM/path/Contribution%20Folders/Kararlar/2014-3237.pdf (accessed 5 November 2014)
Supreme Board of Election, Decision 543, 12 November 2013, http://www.ysk.gov.tr/ysk/docs/Kararlar/2013Pdf/2013-543.pdf (accessed 5 November 2014)
Faaliyette olan siyasi partiler, https://www.yargitaycb.gov.tr/sayfa/faaliyette-olan-siyasi-partiler/documents/SPartiler19112018.pdf (accessed 19 November 2018)
OSCE - ODIHR, Early Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Republic of Turkey 24 June 2018 , ODIHR Election Observation Mission Final Report, https://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/turkey/397046?download=true (accessed 27 October 2018)
“Danıştay’dan “eş başkanlık” uygulamasının durdurulmasına onay,” 23.03.2016, http://www.haberturk.com/gundem/haber/1213998-danistaydan-es-baskanlik-uygulamasinin-durdurulmasina-onay
(accessed 7 October 2017)
Ömer F. Gençkaya, “Financing political parties and electoral campaigns in Turkey,” S.Sayarı, P. Ayan-Musil and Ö. Demirkol (eds), Party Politics in Turkey, Routledge: Oxon and New York, 2018.
 
Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
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Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
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