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31.05.2011

New draft law on parliamentary elections presented

   

 

The Ministry of Justice has posted the new draft Law on the Election of National Deputies which it informs has been revised following discussion. The draft law, it says, is presently being translated into English and will then be sent for assessment to the Venice Commission and “leading institutions on electoral law – the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (USA).

This is the first time that this organization is mentioned. . As reported here, in March this year the two international organizations taking part in the President’s working group  – the National Democratic Institute [NDI] and the International Republican Institute [IRI] suspended their participation. They said that this was until such time as the Group’s work became more transparent and took into account different views (see http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1301987268). 

The draft bill contains new elements which have already been strongly criticized. These include the raising of the electoral threshold for parties entering parliament from 3% to 5%. The predicted mixed system is proposed, with half the deputies (225) elected according to party lists, while the other 50% according to single mandate constituencies.  

Another controversial innovation is that only parties can take part in the elections, not blocs of parties. This is no problem to the three parties forming the ruling majority, but is for the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko [BYuT] and Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence. 

One of the parties in the ruling majority – the Communist Party – has in fact spoken out against raising the threshold.  It is possible that they would not reach this mark.

Ihor Koliuszko, Head of the Centre for Political and Legal Reform told Radio Svoboda that the new electoral law involved a merger of the two worst electoral systems in Ukraine. He considers that a proportional system with closed candidate lists has led to the selling of deputy mandates.

“Places in the lists are sold and internal party democracy has ceased to exist. Under a majority system in single mandate constituencies we have, first, massive influence from administrative resources. Secondly, huge impact of money. With an impoverished electorate it is very easy and cheap to manipulate the votes, with any kind of hand-ups, from food products to money spent repairing roads.

The law also proposes allowing people to put forward their own candidacy in single mandate constituencies and to remove the option of voting against all candidates.

The Ministry of Justice says that the draft law will be submitted to parliament by the end of the week.

It was not only the international NGOs that expressed doubt in whether the working group was there to provide proposals which would be taken into account.

Since thus far all the features of the draft law seem to be the ones mentioned from the outset, it may be useful to read the critical comments made by the Consortium of NGOs working for electoral reform at 

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