Major changes introduced in effort to reduce devil’s night syndrome
By CHARLES KADAMANA
IN an effort to do away with the Devil’s Night before election day, major changes have been introduced in the new electoral Act.
One of the changes will see Integrity officers and observers deployed to reduce the ‘Devils Night’ before the Election Day.
This was highlighted by Dr Jimmy Rodgers, founder of the Solomon Islands People First Party (SIPFP) and Special Secretary to Caretaker Prime Minister, during the party’s convention on Sunday at the National Museum Auditorium.
Speaking on the major changes, he said the deployment of integrity officers and observers is one of the important changes.
He said this change will “reduce the devil’s night”. Devil’s night is the night before Election Day, and is usually a night of misdeeds, when candidates’ support teams visit electorates, buying votes.
Another measure to reduce devil’s night activities is campaigning activities must cease 24 hours before Election Day.
According to the new Electoral Act 2018 section 62, the campaign period for an election begins on the date of publication of the election date and ends 24 hours before the election date.
This means campaign activities will begin after the Governor General by Proclamation appoints the date for election and close 24 hours before the Election Day.
In the old electoral act, candidates are allowed to campaign even on Election Day, but that during Election Day candidates or supporters must be 100 metres away from the polling station.
Meanwhile, regarding campaigning activities, Mr Rodgers said candidates can now spend up to $500,000 (half-a-million dollars). In the old act, candidates were only allowed to spend up to $50,000.
“The maximum each candidate can spend in the context of their campaign was SBD$50,000 which means more than this amount was illegal.
“I think people know that in 2014 National General Election almost 100 percent of the candidates spent more than that but no one was prosecuted.
“It is an expensive affair so there is a change now from that amount being lifted up to SBD$500,000.
“It is common sense that with the $50,000 one cannot buy petrol to cover one constituency,” he said.
Rodger said these are some of the major changes included in the new act.
He said these changes are trying to promote behaviour that can make us proud as a nation.
He said in terms of political parties, no party in this country established itself because they can do it all.
“Every party see areas and gap that need to be addressed and they are like-thinking people that come together and say let us address this but this is the way we want to address it,” he said.
Rodgers said most political parties have similar ideas of the whole gap of development challenges but the reason why different parties formed was because the approaches of their ideologies are different, little bit, but in the bigger picture it remained the same.
“All political parties want to have a share in moving the country forward,” he said.
He said that would only be made known after the election.
“It is after the election that we will know who goes in and this is where political parties with similar ideologies can talk together to form coalition and have a share to put the country forward.”
He said political parties have an important role in the formation of the government and it is likely that more party will win smaller seats.