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Why Ukraine does not rotate its Central Electoral Comision?

Author : Mykhailo Pozhyvanov

Deputies are afraid of early elections and therefore under no circumstances will they approve new candidates of the Central Election Commission now
15:55, 23 May 2018

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During the current sessional week in Verkhovna Rada, the issue of the new composition of the Central Electoral Comision (CEC) has not been resolved. "Political consultations," as the speaker Parubiy calls it, will continue. Obviously, the last four years were not enough to conduct all possible meetings and brainstorms, and therefore it took some additional time. Although, this is not the case. The main aim is to hold out until the fall. In the fall, the president will not be able to dissolve the parliament - six months before the term of his powers ends, he will be deprived of this opportunity. Deputies are afraid of early elections and therefore under no circumstances will they approve new candidates of the Central Election Commission now. This opinion is shared by many politicians, and I agree with them.

But in that case, what will we have in the fall? The new composition of the CEC, the cadence of which will last during the presidential and parliamentary elections (in 2019 and 2024). Perhaps there will be more elections because the political storm has embraced Ukraine, and the probability of another Maidan or the dissolution of the Rada cannot be ruled out.

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If the deputies are so afraid of the new composition of the CEC, they would likely select the candidates among those who have no aversion to corruption. So, for seven years, rather dependent people will be running the elections in the country. One of the very important institutions - the Central Election Commission - will once again be left to the political conjuncture, and therefore I would not expect transparent work from it.

However, we are considering the best option, that is, the option by which a new commission structure will be elected before March 2019 (I would like the new president of Ukraine to put an end to the unworthy games around the CEC). And is there still a much worse scenario - prolongation of the powers of the current CEC right up to the presidential (and, perhaps, the next parliamentary) elections. At first glance, all this looks unrealistic, given at least a large number of statements from top state officials that the rotation of members of the Central Election Commission has long been overdue. But all the same, I would not exclude something unexpected. Even the fact that the position of a member of the CEC is gradually becoming lifelong.

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Meanwhile, the current composition of the CEC has been performing its functions since 2007. Given that the credentials of the members of the CEC are limited to a 7-year term, rotation of cadres should have been held as early as 2014. However, it did not take place. It is rather insulting, considering that in 2007 the majority of CEC representatives belonged to Yanukovych’s party of regions, and only the head of the commission Volodymyr Shapoval was Yushchenko’s man.

And in 2013, the "regional majority" in the CEC shoved the dismissal of Shapoval and the appointment of a completely loyal to Yanukovych Mykhailo Okhendovsky. It should be noted that Ohendovsky is not the only rarity in the current CEC. There are other people working there who signed a protocol in 2004, according to which Viktor Yanukovych was declared the winner of the 2004 elections.

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In general, the Central Election Commission of the year 2007 is exactly those officials who conducted both the 2010 presidential election and the parliamentary elections of 2012. They are responsible for all subsequent elections, and for all the nuances associated with the work of parliamentarians. In particular, it was the current Central Election Commission that stripped the mandates of Mykola Tomenko and Yegor Firsov when the leadership of Poroshenko’s Bloc decided to teach them a lesson. But anyway.

Starting from 2014, to this day, the issue of updating the CEC continues to remain in limbo, although the president of the country has repeatedly been reminded of the need to "refresh" the cadre of this institution. A whole series of elections prevented this from being done promptly, but after the local elections in 2015, the CEC renewal was announced by Poroshenko’s Bloc. However, the Central Election Commission has not been refreshed. And the fault for this lies solely with the president.

Related: Spectre of early elections put brake on rotation in Central Election Commission

Poroshenko, of course, is wasting time with only one goal: he wants to obtain a fully controlled CEC. Moreover, the president violates the principle of parity in representation in the Central Election Commission of nominees from different factions. According to the law on the CEC, the Verkhovna Rada appoints and dismisses the members of the commission on the president's proposal, while the president takes into account the proposals of the deputy factions when preparing the submission. Although formally he might ignore them and submit those nominations that he likes, but then it will be difficult to count on the support of the latter during the voting in the Rada.

Now the situation develops in such a way that all factions and deputy groups receive their representatives in the commission, except for the "Opposition Bloc" and "Batkivshchyna". As for the "Batkivshchyna", under the pressure of this party, its nominee was still included in the list of candidates under the number14 (with only 13 vacant posts). In addition, I would like to note that the principles for the formation of the CEC should be reviewed. It is not fair when the composition of the commission is influenced by the factions, whose chance in the next election is close to a statistical error. But those parties that show considerable success in the local elections (for example, the Agrarian Party) are suspended from the opportunity to influence the process.

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In short, even before the "birth" of the new CEC, its "conception" is not entirely correct. The world has witnessed practices where the control of elections and the establishment of election results are carried out even by the central bodies of state executive power, and not by individual institutions like ours. In this respect, we demonstrate a sufficiently high level of democracy, but this democracy turns out to be quite specific. So, maybe in the future, Ukraine should cancel the CEC at all? So, probably, we will become less democratic, but more economical, saving money for the maintenance of another branch of Bankova.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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