As the distinguished President wisely noted, “The electoral system of Turkmenistan, in accordance with generally accepted requirements of international law, is based on true democratic principles”.
Guided by the wise instructions and missions of our President Arkadag, an important task facing the election commissions is the organization of elections in our country in accordance with the Constitution of Turkmenistan, the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan and democratic principles. Today, various elections held in constantly Neutral Turkmenistan have become an important public and political event for the people and the state. Elections are free and voluntary exercise of citizens of their will, as well as a peculiar manifestation of national democracy.
When speaking about the elections, it should be noted about the importance of agitation during the election campaign.
During the elections, in accordance with Article 62 of the Electoral Code of Turkmenistan, to political parties, public associations, citizens of Turkmenistan, candidates, proxies of candidates, initiative groups is provided free campaigning. For, the main goal of any elections is conduction of agitation on the nomination and election of worthy candidates on elections.
What is the agitation? Agitation during an election campaign is an ongoing election events calling to vote for a candidate and electing him in the manner prescribed by law. The election campaign in Turkmenistan on the basis of free and equal nomination of candidates, clarity, openness and freedom of agitation for all candidates is carried out on equal opportunities.
Agitation begins on the day of registration of the candidate by the relevant election commission and ends the day before the Election Day.
These works, carried out during the election campaign, are recognized as agitational:
- call to vote for a candidate;
- predict the possible consequences of the election of a candidate;
- dissemination of information with reliable information about any candidate.
And also, on the basis of the law, equal conditions of access to the media are guaranteed to candidates and initiative groups.
Members of election commissions, observers, judges, members and representatives of charitable, religious organizations, law enforcement officials, except when these persons are registered as candidates, as well as proxies of candidates, do not have the right to participate in campaigning during elections, referendums, including the production and distribution of any campaign materials. Also, participation in agitation of persons under the age of eighteen years, foreign citizens, foreign states and organizations, international organizations and international public movements is not allowed.
Persons serving in government bodies and local self-government are not entitled to campaign in the performance of their official duties, and also to use the resources of state authorities and local self-government for campaigning.
During the elections, the following widespread types of campaigning are used:
Inform citizens about campaigning.
Political parties, public associations, citizens of Turkmenistan, candidates, proxies of candidates are entitled, in forms and methods not prohibited by law, to campaign for the active participation of voters on elections, to freely and comprehensively discuss the election programs of candidates, their political, business, personal qualities on their meetings, in the mass media.
The content of information materials posted in the mass media or disseminated in any other way should be objective, reliable, not violating the principle of equality of candidates; they should not give preference to any candidate.
Information support of elections includes voter informing and campaigning.
Voter information is carried out by election commissions, state authorities, local governments, the mass media, legal entities and individuals in accordance with this Code and other regulatory legal acts of Turkmenistan.
Election campaigning is the ongoing actions aimed to the clarity of actions related to elections during the election campaign and the wide awareness of citizens, the conscious realization by voters of their freedom, active participation in voting for a worthy candidate for Presidency of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes. Election campaigning is carried out in the following forms:
- Dissemination of information about candidates nominated for the Presidency of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes from political parties, groups of citizens and their election programs;
- Placing visual materials on candidates for the Presidency of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, and members of the Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes in the mass media;
- Through the mass media, including television, public telecommunications sources (Internet);
- Production and distribution of printed materials, campaign materials (leaflets, visual aids and others);
- Conducting mass events (meetings with voters, open debates, discussions);
- Candidates have the right to determine the type and principle of campaigning through the mass media themselves.
- Candidates for the Presidency of Turkmenistan, deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, members of the Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes, political parties, public associations, citizens of Turkmenistan, and proxies of candidates can conduct agitations using other methods and types of campaigning not prohibited by law.
Agitational printed materials (leaflets, visual aids and others) placed outside the premises of election commissions on Election Day may remain in their original places.
Campaigning on television and radio channels.
Candidates are entitled in provision to them a free airtime on state television and radio channels. The indicated airtime should be from 19 to 23 hours. The time provided by official news programs is not included.
The total amount of daily free air time allocated must be at least one hour. The indicated free airtime is distributed among candidates on equal terms. Candidates are not entitled to use the free airtime provided to them for campaigning for other candidates.
It is forbidden to interrupt the speeches of candidates, as well as accompany them with any comments.
The procedure for campaigning on television and radio channels is established by the Central Election Commission in agreement with the authorized state body of Turkmenistan.
Campaigning in periodicals.
Periodical publications, with the exception of publications established by state and local authorities for the publication of official communications and materials, regulatory legal and other acts, should allot on equal terms free print space for materials provided by candidates.
Periodicals that provide print space to one candidate are required to provide print space to the other candidates the same conditions.
Dissemination of information based on knowingly false information and prejudicial to the honor, dignity or business reputation of candidates is not allowed.
The mass media that allowed such publications, by the request of the candidate, are obliged to publish a refutation or provide an explanation for the article or speech that is untrue or distortes it. Disclaimers or clarifications are published in a special section or on the same page and in the same font as the information to be answered, in periodicals - on the next issue, and refutations or explanations for speaking on television or broadcasting are broadcast on the next issue after the day of receipt of the refutation or clarification.
The democratic elections held in our country have accumulated good experience in bringing to the attention of the population through the mass media about ongoing campaigning activities. An example of this, at the February 12, 2017 elections of the President of Turkmenistan, 9 candidates were nominated and registered by political parties and initiative groups of citizens. In accordance with the law, these candidates, taking advantage of the airtime allocated for free, spoke on television with their programs. After campaigning in all corners of our country, meeting with voters, they introduced them in detail their programs. After meetings with voters in the velayats and the city of Ashgabat, the candidates, in accordance with the law, taking advantage of the additional airtime provided, broadcast their programs on television for the second time. The campaign was actively attended by proxies of candidates, active members of political parties and public organizations, as well as initiative groups of citizens. Also, it should be noted the elections of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan held on March 25, 2018, members of the velayat, etrap, city Halk maslahaty and Gengeshes, which differed from the previous elections by the largest number of nominated candidates in the history of Independent Turkmenistan. On those elections, there were nominated and registered 16.558 candidates, of which 10.350 from political parties, and from 6.208 candidates from groups of citizens. Despite the large number of candidates, candidates for deputies of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan in accordance with the law, taking advantage of the airtime provided for free, spoke on television with their programs. After, they held several meetings with voters living within their constituencies.
Candidates for members of the Halk maslahaty of the velayats and the city of Ashgabat, the Halk maslahaty of the etraps, cities and members of the Gengeshes also held several meetings with voters living within their constituencies. Information about the place, day and time of these meetings was timely brought to the attention of the population through the mass media.
Different levels of elections held in Independent, constantly Neutral Turkmenistan on the basis of clarity and openness, freedom of agitation are clear evidence of the improvement of the achievements of democracy of the state and society, the principles of true democracy based on national traditions.
The secretary-referent of the Central Commission for holding elections and referendums in Turkmenistan.