House approves political party registration regulation

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The House of Representatives, on May 17, approved the Political Parties Registration Regulations 2017, Resolution.

The Regulations, which were drafted by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) under the Representation of the People Act, provide a framework for the registration and deregistration of political parties, while also facilitating a system whereby an accurate and up-to-date record can be kept on each political party.

Leader of Government Business in the Lower House, Derrick Smith, who piloted the Resolution, said political parties, like civic organisations, must be registered in the interest of democracy.

He said they must be transparent and meet international standards of accountability and transparency.

“The registration of political parties would, therefore, function to make our democracy stronger and more modern. It is the desire of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica that all political parties that intend to contest the polls in parliamentary and municipal elections and referenda be registered with the Commission,” he noted.

The Regulations address the form and manner that the application for registration of a political party shall take, as well as the necessary documents, statements, certificates, and declarations to be submitted to the ECJ in support of such application.

They also set out the procedures for application for voluntary deregistration of a political party. Regulation nine provides that a register of the political parties is to be kept by the ECJ, and it also prescribes the nature and form of this register.

Regulation 10 stipulates that a political party must, before the last day of January in each successive year, following the initial registration, submit a written declaration as to its continued existence.

Regulations 11 to 12 prescribe the procedures for changing or altering the name, identifying symbol, slogan or colour associated with a political party, and instruct that a new certificate must be issued when the name of a registered political party is changed.

Leader of Opposition Business in the Lower House, Phillip Paulwell, said the Opposition welcomes and supports the regulations.

“This is very far-reaching because before now anybody could get up and decide that they are going to form a political party and they will be able to contest elections. This law and the regulations that are now being enacted will change that and, in fact, the ECJ will be the body that receives applications for registration and for parties to participate in the electoral process. This is now an activity that must be adhered to,” Mr. Paulwell said.

He also queried when the regulations governing political campaign financing will be brought to the Parliament for its approval.

In his response, Mr. Smith said the campaign financing regulation is being actively worked on, and is expected to be tabled shortly.

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