Tajik Parties Campaign Against Election Deposits

As political parties in Tajikistan gear up for next year’s parliamentary election, a campaign is under way to reduce the deposit candidates must pay.

Tajik Parties Campaign Against Election Deposits

As political parties in Tajikistan gear up for next year’s parliamentary election, a campaign is under way to reduce the deposit candidates must pay.

Friday, 12 June, 2009
The fee payable by candidates currently stands at 7,000 somonis, around 1,600 US dollars at the current exchange rate, compared with 4,000 somoni at the last election held in 2005. As reporter Rahmatullo Odina notes, this is a substantial sum given the low income levels in this country, and could deter many from putting their names forward.



The Communist Party has drafted a bill which envisages abolishing the deposit altogether. However, the party’s first secretary Subkhon Safiulloev says, “Unfortunately, no response has been received from the [electoral affairs] committee of the Majlisi Oli [Supreme Council; lower chamber] or from parliament and its leadership. It’s unclear whether this [proposal] will be reviewed or not.”



Muso Isozoda heads the Dushanbe branch of the People’s Democratic Party, which dominates parliament, and believes the current electoral law is perfectly adequate. There is neither a need nor the time to amend it at this point, he says.



Isozade says his party requires its candidates to come up with the deposit money themselves as it cannot afford to pay.



The head of the opposition Social Democratic Party, Rahmatullo Zoirov, says his party’s entire budget of 15,000 somonis will allow it to field only two candidates when the ideal number would be 15 or more.



He says the deposit should be returnable to all candidates who meet the basic requirements set out in electoral regulations. “If it isn’t a guarantee. then the deposit isn’t fulfilling its function,” he said.



Under current law, the deposit is returned if the party concerned passes the threshold of five per cent of the votes cast.



Muhiddin Kabiri, head of the Islamic Rebirth Party, which won two seats in parliament at the last election, says paying the deposit is a big gamble given the question-marks hanging over the way elections are run in Tajikistan.



“If certain clauses in the electoral law were changed and we were convinced that the election would be fair and transparent and democratic, and that the count would be accurate, we could take the risk,” he said. “Political parties could then find the money and nominate candidates in all constituencies.”
Tajikistan
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