JCE will present this week its proposal for modification of electoral laws

The body had formed a commission for the revision; parties maintain support to the Electoral Code with reforms.
The elaboration of an Electoral Code that integrates Law 33-18 of Political Parties, Groupings and Movements and the Organic Law of Electoral Regime 15-19, continues to attract the support of political organizations, since its actors consider that this would be an important legal, electoral and procedural instrument in the Dominican Republic in view of the 2024 elections.

Its creation has been raised and promoted both by the parties and by the current Central Electoral Board (JCE), upon realizing that Law 33-18 and Law-19 (which require modifications) contradict each other. The situation became evident in the past 2020 electoral process, when several articles of both legislations were declared unconstitutional.

The JCE has already finished the study of the electoral laws for the modifications and the draft of the document it has prepared will be sent to the parties this Friday, July 23 for their evaluation and subsequent discussion. Subsequently, that is, on Thursday, July 29, it will be presented in a public act, to which the political actors, the civil society and the media will be invited.

But what do the parties say?

The codification of the electoral laws has gained the support of the political entities, but they agree on a fundamental aspect. And it is that they understand that if these do not undergo the pertinent modifications in those pitfalls and inconsistencies; if their mandates are not complied with and if they are not adapted to the political-electoral reality of the country, this would not make any sense.

In the opinion of the political leader and vice president of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), Héctor Guzmán, the problems that arose in the electoral process with the application, for the first time, of the law of parties and the modified electoral law, were not of contradictions of the same, but, the result of the violations of their mandates, the irresponsibility of the actors in not complying with the consensuses reached and the train wreck between the electoral bodies in applying what is called “judicial populism”. He says that an example of that was what happened with the decisions of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) and the Central Electoral Board (JCE), and their impact on the internal processes in the parties.

“Currently, the JCE is carrying out a proposal of Electoral Code to present to the parties, seeking with it, the modification and adequacy of the electoral norms. In my opinion, I consider the initiative a good one because politics is dynamic and after an electoral process is over, the normal and advisable thing to do is to evaluate it and correct the negative aspects and consolidate the positive ones, in order to achieve more adequate and efficient electoral norms to our reality”, he said to elCaribe.

His opinion is conclusive when he says that if this type of conducts were changed, he is sure that, with the existing electoral norms and with minimal modifications, it would be more than enough to achieve a successful electoral process for 2024.

José Dantés, secretary of Legal Affairs of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), does not differ from what Héctor Guzmán said, since he maintains that it is indistinct whether the electoral laws are codified or not, because “that is the least of it”.

“The important thing is to correct the mistakes that exist in the law of parties, in the Organic Law of Electoral Regime and in the Organic Law of the TSE; and to adapt them to the political reality of our country. It does not matter if they are in one code or in 3 different laws. Obviously, if they are codified it is easier to study, read and consult them, but it is irrelevant in substantive terms”, he indicates.

What is substantive here, he points out, is to punish transfuguism, to empower the TSE to decide on appeals of JCE resolutions that impact electoral matters, and not the TSA, and to decide whether to separate the electoral functions from the administrative functions of the municipal boards, among other important issues.

Last Friday, President Luis Abinader, who is the main leader of the ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), advocated, in his capacity as the main figure of the National Council of the Magistracy (CNM), for the creation of the Electoral Code as he understood that this regulation would correct the inconsistencies of the electoral laws. It was not the first time that the President gave his backing to this, but his pronouncement took on more force due to the scenario in which he made his pronouncement. He did so during the evaluation process for the selection of the new judges of the Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE).

The political delegate of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) before the JCE, Tácito Perdomo, welcomed the fact that the governor expressed his support to the Electoral Code, after affirming that the elaboration of this regulation has been a long yearning of his organization for many years.

“This is a long-standing desire of the Reformist Party that through the initiative of Engineer Antun Batlle, our president, we have taken it to all the spheres. Even, for the process of the electoral law and the law of parties, which were recently approved, we proposed it so that these two laws and also all the laws that in some way affect the electoral process would be gathered in a single code”, he told this newspaper.

For Leonardo Suero, delegate of the Christian Democratic Union (UDC) party, it would be interesting the existence of an Electoral Code that could gather both Law 33-18 and 15-19, the law of the Constitutional Tribunal itself and other laws that, he says, are diffuse. He says that in order to do so, all the actors would have to agree in a harmonious discussion and in good faith.

There is already a proposal in the Chamber of Deputies.

A few weeks ago, deputies Elías Wessin Chávez, Miguel de los Santos and Miguel Bogaert presented in the Chamber of Deputies a first project of reform to the electoral laws to approve an Electoral Code. The initiative proposes the figure of the electoral debate as mandatory for presidential, vice-presidential, senatorial and mayoral candidates, under the organization of the JCE; a new criterion for the distribution of the resources received by the political parties from the State; it would also remove the ceiling now imposed by Law 33-18 for the beginning of the pre-campaign; it establishes that if a party does not decide to hold open primaries for the selection of candidates for popularly elected positions, the activities of the pre-candidates must be limited to the internal part of the parties and no external propaganda would be allowed, among other points.

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