Venice Commission warns against flawed electoral system and lack of consensus



National Deputies are scheduled to consider draft laws on the parliamentary elections this Thursday. However the Venice Commission has called on the Verkhovna Rada to not change the electoral system in the way proposed by the pro-regime Party of the Regions.  Tomas Markert, Secretary of the Venice Commission, , has said that although a majority-proportional system is in force in a number of European countries, in Ukraine it has a negative track record from its use in previous years. Speaking at committee hearings in the Verkhovna Rada, Mr Markert called on the parliamentary majority to find consensus with the opposition and agree a joint draft law on the elections. He stressed that if this did not happen, it would undermine citizens’ faith in the electoral system.

The Venice Commission and Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe [PACE]advises against the plan to introduce a mixed system where half the deputies are elected under a majority system, the other half – according to party lists  and recommends instead a  proportional system based on open regional candidate lists.  Mr Markert explained that the Commission believes that in Ukraine’s situation, a mixed system can lead to abuses.

Differences between the draft law tabled and that shown the Venice Commission

Mr Markert also noted that the draft law on the elections drawn up by members of the ruling majority and registered in the Verkhovna Rada has a number of differences from the draft law prepared by the Working Group under the President and headed by the Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych which was analysed by the Venice Commission.

Radio Svoboda quotes Yury Klyuchkovsky , National Deputy from the opposite Our Ukraine-People’s Self-Defence as saying the same.  In fact, the same worrying discrepancies have been noted by the Consortium of Electoral Initiatives which unites the main NGOs working for fair and honest elections in Ukraine.

Tomas Markert also repeated the recommendation from the Venice Commission’s Opinion that the ruling majority listen to the opinion of the opposition and only introduce electoral reform based on consensus between political forces.  Radio Svoboda reports the assurances from the Head of the Party of the Regions faction and the first Deputy Justice Minister that this was the aim of the Working Group and that the majority would listen with attention to the views of the majority.

As reported here, two international NGOs withdrew from the Working Group due to objections over lack of dialogue and willingness to listen to alternative views, while the NGOs within the Consortium, who did continue attending, have reiterated much the same concerns about lack of consensus as that expressed by the Venice Commission.

New information about the committee hearings from the Radio Svoboda Ukrainian Service

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