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Boundaries in limbo: What would reducing number of Ukraine's MPs mean?

Author : Volodymyr Pylypenko

Verkhovna Rada took the first step towards reducing the number of MPs from 450 to 300
09:31, 10 September 2019

Verkhovna Rada
Zoya Shu/112.ua

A few days ago, the Verkhovna Rada took the first step towards reducing the number of MPs, it has preliminarily approved changes to the Constitution regarding the reduction of the constitutional composition of the parliament and the consolidation of the proportional electoral system. Now the document is sent to the Constitutional Court.

The bill provides for a decrease in the number of MPs to 300 people, it establishes a special requirement for a person who can be MP – proficiency in the state language.

Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR contained 650 MPs, in 1989 the number was reduced to 450, and now there is a proposition to have 300 MPs.

In fact, such changes might be supported, because when establishing the Constitution of Ukraine, the precise number of 450 MPs was guided by the fact that in 1996, according to the census in Ukraine, there were 45 million people. One representative in parliament for one million voters. Now the population has decreased, and therefore the norm of representation can be revised.

In addition, we should not forget about saving the state budget for the maintenance of MPs. This year, the budget allocated 80 million USD for expenses of the Verkhovna Rada Administration. At the same time, 20 million USD is spent on payments to deputies and their assistants. For 2018, the material support of the MP per month ranged from 4-6,000 USD.

On the other hand, international experience demonstrates various criteria for determining the number of MPs, not only in terms of population. For example, in the United Kingdom with a population of almost 66 million people, 1,429 MPs work in parliament (in two houses).

In Turkey, with almost 81 million people, there are 550 MPs in the parliament, and 709 in the Bundestag (with a population of 82 million).

I absolutely support the requirement for the state language. After all, MPs are elected by the people of Ukraine and are their representatives.

Now let us speak about fixing the electoral system in the Constitution.

Firstly, the electoral systems in Ukraine change quite often, and therefore, if there is a need or desire to change the electoral system, it will be necessary to amend the Constitution.

As noted in the explanatory report of the Venice Commission (adopted at the 52nd plenary session, 2002, paragraph 4), any electoral system might be chosen.

Another, more flexible, the solution is to state that if constitutional amendments are made to the election law in the next election, the previous system will be applied, at least if these elections take place next year and the new system enters force after that.

The Code of good practice in electoral matters (CDL-AD(2002)023rev, item II.2.B) states : “The fundamental elements of electoral law, in particular, the electoral system proper, membership of electoral commissions and the drawing of constituency boundaries, should not be open to amendment less than one year before an election, or should be written in the constitution or at a level higher than ordinary law.”

In addition, in the expert environment, some politicians justifiably express fears that the draft law does not specify what kind of the proportional electoral system should be implemented - open or closed.

Therefore, all doubts regarding the bill could be dispelled if the party in power proposed its own Electoral Code. But no one is openly talking about this yet.

 

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