The Stability of Legal Regulation During the Electoral Process – Important Condition of Democratic Elections

Indrė Pukanasytė

Abstract


This paper aims to find an answer to the question whether during the period of electoral process beginning on the date of announcement of elections the stability of legal regulation applicable to such elections should be safeguarded. Before almost all elections held in Lithuania after 2004 (presidential elections, elections to the Seimas, to the local Municipal Councils, the European Parliament) the legal regulation established in the electoral laws applicable to the relevant elections was amended during the electoral process. The amendments passed during such periods differed according to their substance and character. In practice there were cases when after the beginning of the electoral campaign, a new electoral law or a new wording of the electoral law (in force before the electoral process) was passed, or the same article of the electoral law was amended several times during the same electoral process.
The Constitution sets no term expressis verbis before the relevant election (day of ballot) during which the applicable legal regulation cannot be amended or at least significant amendments to such electoral laws cannot be passed. However, the constitutional principles of legitimate expectations, legal certainty and legal security (inseparable elements of the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law), which imply the obligation of the state to secure the certainty and stability of legal regulation, to protect the rights of persons, to respect their legitimate interests and legitimate expectations should be respected. The obligation to safeguard the stability of electoral legal regulation during the process of elections stems from the constitutional principles of legitimate expectations, legal certainty and legal security. Such an obligation also stems from the constitutional electoral principles of universal suffrage, equal suffrage, secret ballot and direct suffrage. During the period of electoral process, the stability of legal regulation applicable to the relevant elections should be ensured. During the electoral process, the electoral legal regulation entrenched in electoral laws (applicable to such elections) should not be amended; new electoral laws should not be passed. The amendments passed during the period of the electoral process should be applicable to the next elections, but not to the pending elections. After the beginning of the electoral process, the electoral laws could be amended only in exceptional cases, where such a necessity emerges after or right before the beginning of the electoral process, when it is objectively necessary to pass such amendments.

Keywords


the Constitution; constitutional principles; elections; electoral laws; the electoral process; the electoral political campaign; the stability of legal regulation

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236