Ways of discussing and others of formulating the new law on parliamentary elections
The Ministry of Justice has announced that the Working Group under the President has completed conceptual proposals for a future law on parliamentary elections. It reports that the President has considered the conceptual proposals and “outlined positions on the basis of which he recommends the draft law be prepared. After being drawn up, the draft law will be considered by the Working Group and international expert institutions and submitted by the Head of State to the Verkhovna Rada”.
According to the newspaper Kommersant – Ukraine, members of the Working Group note that they had no impact on the choice of provisions of the conceptual framework, and merely put forward their suggestions, some of which were taken into consideration by the Ministry of Justice and President’s Administration.
Both reports mention that the Working Group included representatives of all deputy factions in parliament, academics and specialists, however Kommersant says that their votes were not decisive in approving the Concept. According to one members, the Deputy Head of the Central Election Committee, Andriy Mahera, “at the meetings we did not once vote for any ideas. We merely expressed various opinions about how the legislation should be, and the Ministry of Justice and President’s Administration listened to us and then chose one of all the ideas expressed”. In the Ministry of Justice they assert that despite the lack of formal votes, the wishes of all participants were taken into consideration. “A considerable part of the proposals taken into account by the Head of State came from representatives of opposition political forces and the OSCE”, the Ministry says.
There will be a mixed system at the next parliamentary elections. 50% of the Deputies will be elected in a multi-mandate constituency according to closed party lists, with blocs of parties not allowed to take part. Mr Mahera predicts that the majority system will be put forward through two routes – from the parties and by people putting themselves forward.
Mr Mahera added that many of the key provisions of the future law remain unclear even to members of the Working Group since those taking part in the meeting were not given a copy of the approved Concept. “For example, it remains unclear what the quota will be of parliamentary forces in forming electoral commissions and whether there will be such a quota at all”.
The Ministry of Justice asserts that parliamentary parties “will be given preference” in this process but have not informed on the proportion and not specified how this mechanism will work at the next elections, considering that the Verkhovna Rada will have not only parties but blocs.
The technical part of the pre-election process will undergo significant changes. It is planned to create a permanent system of electoral districts and precincts in order to not waste time on that during the election campaign. Previously organization of electoral districts took up to two weeks, and precincts were even created in the second half of the campaign leading to problems with filling the electoral commissions and with the work quality of their members.
Kommersant has learned that the final draft law will resolve the issue of lack of funding for early elections, with the Cabinet of Ministers in such cases being obliged to allocate money from the reserve fund. Significant changes are planned to the section of campaigning, including a ban on covert political advertising and on journalists standing for election taking part in information television programmes.
The Ministry of Justice’s Press Secretary informs that the text of the draft law should be completed in May after which the Working Group will again meet to discuss specific wording in the future law on the elections.