HANOI - Members of the National Assembly Standing Committee yesterday discussed the draft Law on the election of NA deputies and People's Councils in its first session after the Tet holiday, emphasizing fairness and transparency in the election process, and increasing the political representation of women and ethnic minorities.
Speaking at the meeting, Head of the NA Committee on Finance and Budget Phung Quoc Hien said that the law should establish a National Election Committee that comes into play only during election season every five years.
"This can ensure that our system does not become more cumbersome and inefficient," Hien said. "It will also save the State budget from having to finance a committee that remains intact during the five-year term."
The proposed National Election Committee would be established by the National Assembly and would be responsible for organising the election of NA deputies and instructing elections at the People's Council level.
However, NA members felt that the law should identify more clearly the responsibility of the committee and its relation to local governments and other organisations in the election process.
In regards to the low number of female and ethnic minority candidates, members of the NA Standing Committee agreed that the law should mandate a minimum per cent of female and ethnic minority representatives in local and national government bodies.
NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said re-election could be held in the event that the per cent of female and ethnic minority representatives falls below the mandated level.
NA members also delved into the topic of campaigning methods, largely agreeing that candidates can only hold election campaigns at meetings with voters that are organised by the Fatherland Front Committee at local levels.
Some NA members said that campaign methods such as using campaign brochures or self-campaigning cannot ensure fairness in the process.
The Law on the election of NA deputies and People's Councils is expected to be approved at the NA general meeting in mid-May.
In the afternoon, the NA met to discuss the draft Law on Referendum presented by the Viet Nam Lawyers' Association.
According to the association, the country currently does not have a legal framework for a referendum even though the new Constitution requires that voters' opinions on national issues must be sought out.
Head of the NA Committee on Legal Affairs Phan Trung Ly acknowledged that the issuance of a Law on Referendum will create a legal basis for the people to be directly involved in public governance.
However, disagreements remained on whether a referendum should be available at both the national level and regional level, some saying it depends on the issue at hand and the population likely to be affected.
Currently, the draft law states that a referendum can only count if more than half of the voters cast their ballot and the particular proposal passed if it receives more than half of the vote.
Head of the NA Finance and Budget Committee Hien requested that the law make clear when a referendum is needed and who decides whether an issue can be put forward for a referendum.
Ly argued that a referendum should only be used for national issues of utmost importance such as amending the Constitution, threats to national sovereignty or the decision to sign an international treaty.
The NA would decide on whether a referendum mechanism is needed, he said.
According to the Viet Nam Lawyers' Association, currently about 78 per cent of countries and territories in the world have a law or some form of legal regulation that enacts referendum powers.
The Law on Referendum is expected to be put forward for discussion this May at the NA general session and approved at the end of this year.
During the three-day meeting of the NA Standing Committee, other issues to be discussed include the construction plan for Long Thanh International Airport, the Law on Sea and Island Resources and Environment and the amended Law on State Budget