Warnings over “the worst ever” law on the local elections
The Law on the Local Elections, signed by the President on 27 July, came into force over the weekend. Experts point to serious failings in the law.
According to the Head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU], Oleksandr Chernenko, the beginning date of 11 September envisaged for the electoral process makes the electoral campaign “too short for it to be possible to adhere to all procedure in organizing the electoral process”. Among other technical and procedural faults, he named the formation of electoral commissions without mandatory proportional representation of all election players.
He says that “it is specifically the commissions which can become the instruction either for vote-rigging or for unlawful removal of registration from the leaders of the race”. Chernenko considers that the new law on the local elections is the worst of all electoral laws and from the purely political point of view. Restrictions and in some cases even abolition of the possibility of putting oneself forward as a candidate, the restriction to participation in the elections of political parties, he believes, seriously restricts the rights of cities to take part in the elections and be elected.
International expert opinion needed
This view was shared by the Head of the Council of the Laboratory for Legislative Initiatives, Ihor Kohut. He sees the main problem as being “excessive concentration on parties in the local elections and the few opportunities for non-party candidates” to take part in the elections. And the short time frames for preparing and passing the law not only precluded getting an expert assessment from European institutions as to compliance with norms of European law, but prevented even taking into account the comments of State expert bodies and the Verkhovna Rada.
“Ukrainian politicians were not interested in any outside expert assessment of this law. Since the Ukrainian legislators were quicker at working out how to ensure political preferences for a certain part of Ukraine’s political parties”. Kohut says that he is in favour of a mandatory expert assessment of the electoral law by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and considers that “the OSCE and its Office on Democratic Initiatives and Human Rights [ODIHR] can also speak out on this subject.”