Legitimacy of Local Elections in question
Two Deputy Heads of the Central Election Commission – Zhanna Usenko-Chorna and Andriy Mahera – have publicly stated that the very legitimacy of the local elections due on 31 October is at risk. They speak of widespread cases of unfounded refusals to register candidates. As well as the imminent elections, they also have doubts about the next parliamentary elections.
The Deputy Heads of the CEC assert that territorial electoral commissions [TEC] have allowed large-scale and unwarranted refusals to register candidates wishing to stand for office as deputies of local councils, and village, settlement and city mayors.
According to Zhanna Usenko-Chorna, “the most common violation is artificially creating conditions so as to refuse candidates registration. There are examples where the court has several times issued a ruling regarding registration, yet in the commissions they still don’t register the person.”
Andriy Mahera points out that the reasons given for turning down registration often seem absurd. “Take for example the far-fetched grounds that the electoral commission where the application is being made is not given correctly”. He ridicules idiotic quibbles over the order of words (much freer in Ukrainian – translator). “What is the main task of the commission – to protect citizens’ electoral rights or to place obstructions in the path of exercising these rights”!”
Could the local elections end up at the European Court of Human Rights?
Andriy Mahera does not understand why the courts when examining complaints against such decisions of the territorial electoral commissions in many cases, while finding violations, refuse to order the commissions to register the candidates. As a result, he cannot exclude the possibility of applications being lodged with the European Court of Human Rights.
Ms Usenko-Chorna points out that most of the people whom the TEC have refused to register are from the Batkivshchyna Party (Tymoshenko), the VO Svoboda Party (Tyahnybok) and “Strong Ukraine” (Tihipko). Such cases have been recorded in all regions of Ukraine.
Asked why the CEC cannot influence the situation, the Deputy Heads mentioned two things: a majority loyal to the current regime in the CEC and the flaws in electoral legislation. According to Mr Mahera, “the Law on the Local Elections is written in such a way that the CEC can only react to failure to act. That is, when the commission doesn’t take any decision”.
Those in power deny any interference in the electoral process. According to the Head of the President’s Administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin, the President is doing everything so that the elections were fair and transparent. He said that the President had signed a Decree to this effect, “And if anybody misuses administrative resources, they will be dismissed”.
The CEC is preparing for parliamentary elections in 2011
Another problem is linked with the date of the next parliamentary elections. The Verkhovna Rada are holding to the view that the elections should be in 2012, however Andriy Mahera says that according to the now current version of the Constitution, the elections should take place in March of next year.
“If someone wants to pick out some provisions, say that they’re valid, while others are not, this is, I believe, a profoundly erroneous position. The Constitution is valid in full over the entire territory of Ukraine and with regard to all.”
The members of the CEC stated that the norm of the Constitution on the day of the elections is of direct force, and therefore the CEC is planning already in November to begin the preparations for them. However Mr Mahera assumes that the CEC will turn to the Constitutional Court for clarification on this subject.