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[Editorial] Thanksgiving Day and Illegal Election Campaigning

[Editorial] Thanksgiving Day and Illegal Election Campaigning

Posted September. 24, 2001 08:27,   


There is much anticipation after National Election Commission (NEC) announced that it will crack down on violations of campaign laws as the Thanksgiving day approaches. This year`s Thanksgiving comes right before the special elections on October 25 and several months before next year`s regional elections. It is likely that there will be many cases of breaking the laws on election campaigning. According to NEC figures, 7 cases of violation for the October 25 elections were already reported and 1488 cases for next year`s regional elections.

The NEC announced that it will examine each case of campaign law violation during Thanksgiving greetings and implement a reporting system made up of fair election volunteers, religious organization members and others. Also, the NEC is strongly stating its intention to send official reports of special investigation and clearly expose election campaign law violations.

Since the October 25 special election and next year`s regional elections take place at the tail end of the current administration`s term, they are expected to be particularly competitive. Both the ruling and opposition parties are moving to put all their energies into the elections as a preparation for the Presidential elections in December of next year. Some are saying that Thanksgiving Day is the start of the elections. It is true that every major holiday before an election has been filled with illegal campaign activities such as receiving monetary gifts and donations.

Yet, even if the NEC cracks down on violations, it will be difficult to achieve much of a result if the candidates do not have the will to put on a clean campaign. It is important for candidates to have the attitude that they will run a clean campaign even if they do not win. The voters, too, must demonstrate their civic virtues by refusing money, food gifts, or any other illegal bribery and reporting violations to the authorities.

It is also necessary to clarify the criteria of election campaign law violations. For example, the NEC says that it will crack down on gift giving that goes beyond the boundaries of proper official duty. Yet, it is not clear what exactly constitutes proper official duty. If there is too much variation on how the NEC makes a decision on cases, an effective crackdown may be difficult.

The electoral process is the heart of political reform. Although the ruling and opposition parties have insisted on political reform, there has not been any progress. We hope that the political authorities will lay the groundwork for reform by fully supporting the NEC`s crackdown on election campaign violations.