Consortium of NGOs issue statement on propposed electoral amendments
The civic organizations who have formed a consortium aimed at reforming electoral legislation welcome the announcement by the Minister of Justice, Oleksandr Lavrynovych of the conceptual tenets of the draft Law on the Election of National Deputies (i.e. on the parliamentary elections), as well as of a tentative time frame for preparation and tabling in parliament of the said bill. However the process for preparing amendments to electoral legislation can only be called open when rational proposals and arguments from the public are heard and taken into consideration.A considerable number of the proposals published are a step forward in improvement of electoral legislation and meet generally accepted standards for democratic elections. It is too early to give an assessment of some initiatives since a real idea of the mechanisms for implementing such provisions can only be gained from seeing the published text of the draft law. There is still no answer to a number of important questions linked with electoral reform.
At the same time the Consortium have several fundamental reservations regarding provisions which will not promote an improvement of electoral legislation.
The increase in the electoral threshold to 5% is not in line with the conditions under which the Ukrainian party system is formed. It would at present be expedient to keep this threshold at 3-4% in order to prevent political speculation on this issue;
With respect to retention of the present procedure for forming electoral commission, this will mean that parties which have formed their own factions in parliament will have more advantage when commissions are formed than parties which are part of multi-party blocs. The Consortium considers that district electoral commissions should be formed by parties and not blocs.
Regarding permission for all civic organizations without exception to act as observers over the electoral process, the Consortium believes that qualification requirements should be applied since NGOs, as legal entities, must act solely within the constraints of their charters of association. Furthermore, permission for all NGOs to be observers could turn into a technique for manipulating public opinion by the members of particular NGOs.
Voting according to where voters are staying without the relevant documents confirming that they cannot get about by themselves, has already lead to situations where up to 30% of those in a voting precinct voting from home. Ensuring that such voting is carried out in honest fashion is problematical.
The lack of requirements for members of commissions to undergo training on organizational matters and on running elections is of concern. The Consortium believes that the new electoral law must allow for mandatory organization of training on electoral issues for the members of all commissions.
The civic organizations hope that their views will be taken into consideration during further work on the draft law.
Members of the Consortium: the OPORA Civic Network, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, the Legislative Initiatives Laboratory and Ukrainian Independent Centre of Political Research