Venice Commission comments rejected in draft law on parliamentary elections



The Minister of Justice Oleksandr Lavrynovych told journalists on Thursday that particular comments made by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission will not be taken into account in the draft Law on the Elections of National Deputies. 

Lavrynovych said that most of the Venice Commission’s comments were of a juridical – technical nature. Ukraine agrees and is willing to made changes on 21 items since they should improve the text of the draft law.

In addition, he said, there are 14 comments which require continued discussion.

“There are some essentially contentious comments. It will be much harder to take these into account. Say, the comment that the law does not ensure gender equality in the makeup of the commission. Let’s assume I’m ready to accept this suggestion, but how does one implement it?”

Amongst contentious comments the Minister named the adoption of decisions at electoral commission meetings by a majority of those present; the ban on campaign advertising in foreign media outlets; the ban on foreign nationals and stateless persons expressing their views regarding the election campaign.

Lavrynovych also mentioned that their were two comments which would definitely not be taken into account.

The first was the requirement that candidates have lived in the country for  5 years. The Venice Commission recommended decreasing this time period, while the Minister considers that it is fully in line with the Constitution.

The second concerns Article 9 of the draft law which bans all citizens charged with committing a deliberate crime from being elected to parliament. The Commission believes that this restriction should only be applied to people accused of committing a grave crime. Lavrynovych said that this norm was also dictated by the Constitution.

He also said that another point which will not be taken into account concerns Ukraine’s return to a mixed electoral system. Lavrynovych explained that this was not a comment of the Venice Commission, but a statement of fact.

President Yanukovych promised to personally follow how the comments from the Venice Commission regarding the new law on the elections were taken into consideration.

Last week Lavrynovych announced that the preliminary assessment by the Venice Commission had been received.  The Ministry’s Press Service report suggested that on the whole the draft law had been approved, with the European experts considering that it contains a number of improvements to electoral legislation and envisages detailed regulations of the parliamentary electorals.

It is difficult to consider the critical comments made by the Venice Commission to be of a technical nature, and some refer to serious problem areas.  Their report posted can be found here:

The Commission’s website informs that a “delegation of the Venice Commission is visiting Ukraine between 21 and 23 September 2011 to exchange views with national authorities and other stake-holders on the draft Law on the Election of Members of Parliament of Ukraine and on Ukraine’s ongoing electoral reform. 
The Commission’s preliminary draft opinion on this draft Law, recently released by the Ministry of Justice, includes themes which the delegation will clarify during its visit. 
Following this visit, the draft preliminary opinion prepared jointly by rapporteurs of the Venice Commission and experts of the OSCE/ODIHR, will be finalised and submitted to the Venice Commission for possible adoption at its October 2011 plenary session”. 

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