Ukraine's new election law or how to burst into the parliament

Author : Volodymyr Pylypenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Verkhovna Rada considers changes in the rules for holding elections of people's deputies
10:44, 3 November 2017

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Last plenary week, the parliament, under activists pressure that conveniently settled on Hrushevsky street, included three bills in the agenda (No. 1068, No. 1068-1, No. 1068-2). All of them provide for changes in the rules for holding elections of people's deputies.

Despite the fact that all bills have been rejected, draft No. 1068-2 "On Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine," created by Chumak V., Agafonova V. and others, was put to the vote the largest number of times.

So, what is a super-important idea this bill proposes, if the chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, by all possible means, tried to find for him at least some positive decision?

According to the draft law No. 1068-2, only parties can nominate candidates for deputies. Therefore, party blocs will not participate in such elections. In my opinion, such a ban will not help prevent the excessive fractional fragmentation of the Verkhovna Rada. Frankly, this can cause the emergence of even more small fractions in the parliament, which does not contribute to political consolidation.

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The draft also proposes to form a single national constituency that will cover the whole territory of Ukraine and 27 regional electoral districts. The consequence of such changes will be that the parties will form two lists of candidates for deputies. One - for voting in the national election district, and 27 regional lists - for each region separately.

It is assumed that during the voting the voter should put a mark on, for example, the party "A" in the national constituency. But among the proposed candidates in the regional list, a voter can choose one candidate. Thus, the draft law proposes to introduce in Ukraine a kind of "mix" of proportional and majority systems.

Electoral list of candidates, divided into regional groups, is an idea borrowed from our close neighbors, the Russian Federation.

Of course, the experience of foreign countries is instructive for Ukraine, the electoral system of which is still at the stage of formation. However, not all. From the analysis of history it becomes obvious that we do not learn from our mistakes, and the change in the electoral system, as a rule, does not bring benefits to the interests of society.

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I am convinced that a full-fledged electoral reform in Ukraine is definitely not the demands of the protesters. First (and a number of experts will agree with this) is the adoption of a full-fledged Electoral Code. However, we are offered to introduce changes only to one law. The trouble is that such a step qualitatively will not solve the problems of the legal organization of the elections. As a result, we face the stalemate again. Although, this approach in Ukrainian political "reformed" realities does not surprise anyone.

An analysis of the proposed proportional electoral system with open regional lists demonstrates that such a system combines both shortcomings of the majority and proportional systems.

Personalized voting by regional lists de facto will not be different from voting for deputies of majority candidates. The authorities will have more opportunities and resources for pressure during the voting, now not for majority candidates, but for "regional officials". Reformerism is simply amazing! There remain risks (as with the use of the majority system) of influence on the results of elections through various manipulative technologies. For example, the same mass "resettlement" of voters from one district to another, manipulation with the boundaries of constituencies and the like. But the candidates from the party in the national constituency will continue to be little known for the voters. The parties will independently form their lists.

The bill provides for a completely new voting procedure, unknown to the Ukrainian voter, which does not simplify this process, but rather creates all the prerequisites for an error.

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According to the proposed changes, a voter must write two numbers in one special ballot field. They describe the serial number of the party, for the candidates from which he votes in the national constituency. And in another field, he inscribes two figures denoting the serial number of the candidate for deputies from this party, for which the he votes in the regional electoral district.

We do not know this kind of bulletin. Therefore, these changes may entail many mistakes during its completion, and as a result of the lack of votes in determining the final results of the elections.

The authors of the legislative initiative suggest creating territorial electoral districts. However, there are no clear criteria on which they should be formed, nor is the subject of their education defined.

In addition, according to the draft law, the electoral process includes creation of ordinary, special permanent and special temporary polling stations. At the same time, the document does not determine who is the subject of formation of ordinary polling stations.

In addition, according to the fourth part of Article 29 of the draft, the Central Election Commission, in cooperation with local executive authorities and local self-government bodies, ensures the creation of all necessary special polling stations. However, the draft law does not envisage how and in what order the interaction between the CEC and the above-mentioned bodies.

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An equally important aspect in the process of organizing any election is the rules for compiling and clarifying voter lists. This bill proposes to introduce many innovations into this procedure.

In particular, the idea to produce a preliminary list of voters in as many as three copies has been voiced! But this will require significant additional public funds. About millions of hryvnia taxpayers. Moreover, it looks very strange against the background of the electoral practices of developed democracies, where in some places the list of voters generally exists exclusively in electronic form.

By the way, there is a positive experience of making lists on paper in one copy, which is stipulated by the Law of Ukraine "On Local Elections". Such a procedure did not affect the quality of voters' lists at all, did not narrow the rights of citizens to familiarize themselves with them, as well as the possibility of their clarification. Moreover, it allowed to significantly reduce the expenses from the state budget for holding elections, in comparison with the current laws of Ukraine "On Elections of the President of Ukraine", "On Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine".

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Also, Article 64 deals with the establishment of central and regional control groups (in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, oblasts, cities in Kyiv and Sevastopol) to ensure public control over the process of compilation and clarification of preliminary lists of voters and the production of updated lists by the state register of voters.

Public control over the conduct of the State Register of Voters is stipulated in Article 24 of the Law of Ukraine "On the State Register of Voters", where political parties are entitled to such control.

Consequently, the existence of control groups, which is provided for by the bill, can remain only a fruitless intention, which, incidentally, is not an urgent necessity.

Procedures for compiling and clarifying voter lists at the polling stations are also very important. Central Election Commission should determine the multiplicity of the voter's inclusion of various lists. Now this is done automatically.

Given the propensity of our legal system to overregulate processes and procedures, this bill is its natural product and needs a lot of improvement.

All those who are actively lobbying for changes to the "electoral law" under their own authority, argue their proposals by the fact that the Ukrainian people are already mature enough and, the politicians should stop deceiving it. At least, Ukrainians can already distinguish populism and political intrigue from simple work for the benefit of the state.

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