Luhansk experience of electoral law flaws


Alexei Svyetikov from the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] writes that one of the conclusions from the results of voting in the Luhansk region on October 31 is that the attempt to introduce a mixed system in its present form was a failure.

Complaints began reaching the Luhansk Regional CVU from former candidates immediately after the end of the vote count. They allege use of a new form of vote rigging. Questions must be asked over the fact that for all Severodonetsk majority system places for city council deputies, candidates from the Party of the Regions won with fairly similar results – from 45 to 55%.  This was despite the fact that some candidates had run a fairly active campaign, while others were not seen in the precinct at all. Some were well-known to the voters, others’ names were learned only from the ballot papers.  None of this made any difference on the results.

An analogous situation was seen in other cities with deputies for the city councils of Lysychansk, Rubezhnoye, Kremennaya.  According to the majority system, not one candidate from any other party but the Party of the Regions was elected. According to preliminary information from the Press Service of the Party of the Region, 60 out of the 61 candidates they registered for the regional council according to the majority system were elected. For the Luhansk City Council the figure was 37 out of 38.

Luhansk Regional CVU believes that this was not the result of new, previously unknown methods of vote rigging, but due to the use at local level of a mixed system of voting.  It is unlikely that this was anticipated by the majority of analysts.  The system used is after all like that used for parliamentary elections in 1998 and 2002 when voters voted both according to party lists, and for specific candidates in single-mandate precincts.  Then it was common for voters voting for candidates through the majority system to be non-party people who’d put their candidacy forward, or even people put forward by another party that the one they voted for in the multi-mandate precinct.

The voting this year went quite differently.  Voters did not go by specific individuals (some of whom they simply didn’t know), but by the name of the party which put them forward. As a result the candidates in majority system precincts received more or less the same number of votes as the candidate list of the party which put them forward did. The Party of the Regions had 50-55% of the votes at polling stations in Severodonetsk, and ALL (!) candidates from that party standing within the majority system got that number of votes and ALL (!) were elected, with those put forward by other parties having no chance. It turned out that you didn’t need any particular rigging techniques, the procedure established by the unsuccessful law was enough.

Luhansk Regional CVU is convinced that the failings of the electoral law used during the October 31 elections resulted in a reduction in the level of democracy in Ukraine, which requires diversity. The proportional system for elections also ensures the presence at least for the largest minority groups of representation proportionate to their numbers. The application this year of a mixed system given a dominating force in the region led to representation by opposition parties in city councils being halved, with these getting places only according to the party lists.  This is while the majority system electoral precincts essentially turned into a means for local branches of the Party of the Regions to delegate their deputies to the councils.

Slightly adapted from Alexei Svyetikov’s report here

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