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Saturday, December 3, 2022

The SDS parliamentary group demands the convening of an extraordinary session of the National Assembly: For the fair conduct of elections and referendums!

By: C. R., SDS

The SDS parliamentary group requested the convening of an extraordinary session of the National Assembly with consideration of a proposal for a recommendation to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia regarding the establishment of conditions for the legality of elections, the uniform application of legislation relating to election and referendum procedures, to ensure publicity, integrity, impartiality and objectivity of the commission’s work, and the fairness of elections and referendums.

In accordance with Article 37 of the Act on Elections to the National Assembly, the State Election Commission, as the highest electoral body, carries out the tasks specified by the said Act and other laws in the field of electoral legislation.

The State Election Commission, as part of its tasks, in particular:

  1. ensures the legality of elections and uniform application of the provisions of electoral laws relating to electoral procedures;
  2. appoints members of election commissions of electoral units and district election commissions;
  3. coordinates the work of election commissions, electoral units, and district election commissions, and gives professional instructions regarding the implementation of electoral legislation and supervises their work;
  4. prescribes forms for the enforcement of election laws;
  5. determines uniform standards for election materials and determines other material conditions for conducting election tasks;
  6. publishes election results;
  7. issuance of the certificate of election;
  8. takes care of voting at diplomatic and consular delegations of the Republic of Slovenia;
  9. organises training for members of other electoral bodies;
  10. appoints the director of the commission’s service.

Anyone who closely followed the last elections to the National Assembly knows that the struggle between candidate lists and political parties was also accompanied by a saga within the Service of the State Election Commission, led by director Dušan Vučko.

Let’s remember

It started with inadmissible delays in sending ballots abroad, as a result of which many eligible voters were completely prevented from voting by mail and thus inadmissibly interfered with the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote. Some of them received the letter from the State Election Commission with the election materials only after the end of the elections. They ignored the comments of the paper representatives that the ballots should be designed differently. They also made a mistake when certifying the candidate lists. Finally, it is worth highlighting the fact that the State Election Commission also incorrectly calculated which candidates were elected to the National Assembly.

Due to the fact that too many issues remained unexplained, as a result of which a stain of legitimacy and legality hangs over the elections to the National Assembly, one of the members of the State Election Commission submitted a proposal for the dismissal of the director of the State Election Commission.

Proposal for the dismissal of the director of the State Election Commission

He submitted a proposal for the dismissal of the director of the State Election Commission on the basis of Articles 14 and 18 of the Rules of Procedure of the State Election Commission, namely:

  1. As a result of unscrupulous, irregular work and neglect and negligent performance of his duties in the management of the State Election Commission by failing to carry out technical tasks for the correct publication of the provisional and partial results of the elections to the National Assembly. This caused irreparable damage to the State Election Commission due to the loss of trust in this institution.
  2. Due to the negligent performance of his duties, as a result of which there was a 4-day delay in the printing of ballot papers for the elections to the National Assembly, which consequently meant that the ballot papers were sent abroad later and, consequently, it was impossible to vote by mail from abroad to a great number of eligible voters. At the same time, due to the illegality of the procedure for the extraordinary dismissal of an employee of the State Election Commission, to whom he transferred his responsibility for the resulting delay.
  3. Due to the negligent performance of his duties, by overlooking the e-mail of the representative of the list with a comment on the design of the ballots.
  4. As a result of acting contrary to the Act on Elections to the National Assembly, by interfering with the competence of the State Election Commission by not notifying the State Election Commission of the received signatures of support from members of parliament for candidate lists, and without a decision of the State Election Commission, he himself confirmed which lists of candidates run with the signatures of at least three MPs.

The State Election Commission rejected the aforementioned proposal for the dismissal of the director of the State Election Commission Service at the 37th regular session with a majority of votes. Regardless, there still remains a stain on the management of the service.

This was reinforced in a recent interview of a former long-term employee of the State Election Commission and assistant director for the organisation and implementation of elections at the State Election Commission, who received an extraordinary termination of her employment contract in May of this year.

In the interview, she highlighted, among other things, the fact that she received a notice from the Labour Inspectorate, which, on her initiative, carried out an inspection of the State Election Commission due to mobbing, bullying and the annual assessment. In doing so, she identified violations of labour legislation, which resulted in the State Election Commission being ordered to act in accordance with the Misdemeanours Act. At the same time, she pointed out irregularities in the systematisation for filling the position of public relations consultant.

Also, there is a significant statement from an interview that the president of the State Election Commission Peter Golob often meets with the director of the State Election Commission Dušan Vučko, and with selected members of the State Election Commission.

“I hope that the media will not be expelled from the State Election Commission”

Such behaviour definitely does not inspire the integrity, impartiality, and objective work of the State Election Commission, which, given the nature of the institution, its powers, and tasks, should be taken care of in the first place. Anton Gašper Frantar, the former long-time president of the State Election Commission, who was also unusually dismissed, pointed out these issues.

In response to questionable suggestions that part of the discussions on the dilemmas of electoral procedures should be held before the session, which would no longer be allowed to be recorded, i.e., at the “expert college” completely closed to the public, the former president of the State Election Commission, Anton Gašper Frantar, before the session of the State Election Commission (DVK) on February 13th, 2020 responded “I hope that the media will not be expelled from DVK.”

Before the public sessions of the State Election Commission, the specified special collegium would prepare “expert decisions” behind closed doors, which would later only be publicly confirmed by the State Election Commission. In such a collegium, power is gained by a small circle, including the director of the Service of the State Election Commission, Dušan Vučko, a former LDS MP and state secretary, who otherwise does not have the right to vote at the meetings.

The former president of the State Election Commission, Anton Gašper Frantar, did not support the practice of non-public meetings before the real sessions of the State Election Commission, because he assessed that it is right that there is an open public discussion about the dilemmas of the conduct of elections. All dilemmas, all open questions regarding the implementation of electoral tasks, the exercise of constitutionally defined voting rights, also concern the strain of the political party and not only those represented in the National Electoral Commission. And above all, all voters.

The Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the State Election Commission should, within the framework of their powers, provide everything necessary to increase public control over the work of the commission that conducts elections and thus over the fairness of the conduct of elections.

SDS proposal

In the Slovenian Democratic Party, we propose that the National Assembly decide on the adoption of the following draft recommendation: the Government of the Republic of Slovenia regarding the establishment of conditions for the legality of elections, the uniform application of legislation relating to election and referendum procedures, to ensure publicity, integrity, impartiality and objectivity of the commission’s work and the fairness of elections and referendums.

  1. The National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia recommends the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to prepare and adopt such solutions to the electoral legislation, which will increase control over the work of the State Election Commission, which carries out electoral and referendum tasks, ensure equality of status in electoral and referendum procedures and legality, the impartiality and objectivity of the work of the State Election Commission and thus the fairness of the conduct of elections and referendums.
  2. The National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia recommends to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to prepare and propose for adoption such solutions that will enforce the responsibility of the members of the State Election Commission and the Service of the State Election Commission in cases where there are massive irregularities in electoral tasks, negligent performance of duties in the management of the Service of the State Election Commission, and thus irreparable damage due to the loss of trust in the institution.

Citizens of the Republic of Slovenia must be enabled to work impartially and objectively by the electoral bodies, as this is the only way to ensure the legality and legitimacy of the electoral process.

In SDS, we believe that it is necessary to hold a discussion with the aim of ensuring everything necessary to increase public control over the work of the commission that conducts the elections, and thus over the fairness of the conduct of the elections.

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