NGOs speak out against ruling majority’s draft election bill
The following is a statement issued by the Coalition of NGOs “For Honest Elections for the Future’s Sake” against the adoption as base of the draft bill “On the Elections of National Deputies of Ukraine” N9265-1
The NGOs within the Coalition are forced to state that the process of drawing up new legislation on the Election of National Deputies (the parliamentary elections) has become a glaring example of imitation of public and specialist dialogue masking the undemocratic aspirations of the Party of the Regions to change electoral legislation so as to receive a guaranteed majority in the next parliament regardless of the real results of the elections.
The Working Group on Improving Electoral Legislation created by Presidential Decree on 2 November 2010 was supposed to find consensus on the most controversial issues. It was artificially restricted in the range of issues which it was able to discuss, on the pretext that the President had decided on the need to return to a mixed electoral system under which half the deputies would be elected via a proportional system and the other half according to a majority system.
During all of this period neither the President nor the Government could give answers to the numerous criticisms from members of the public and the opposition regarding the negative consequences of introducing such a system. This would lead to 1) increased opportunity to use administrative resources and achieve victory for pro-regime candidates in single-mandate constituencies; 2) retain political corruption in drawing up candidate lists for the elections in multi-mandate constituencies; 3) an increased number of non-faction and non-party businessmen deputies in parliament inclined to vote in unison with the executive branch of power; 4) the impossibility of establishing a force responsible for the state of matters in the country.
Moreover, the members of the government and parliamentary majority prevented discussion of alternative draft bills from members of the parliamentary opposition which envisage the introduction of a proportional electoral system with open regional candidate lists. This retains the positive aspects of the proportional system and at the same time makes it possible for voters to directly elect candidates. Neither the Government, nor the President, nor members of the ruling majority took part in detailed and open discussion of what electoral system is needed in Ukraine. Nor did they react to numerous calls from members of civil society to take part in such dialogue.
Instead, having set the task of holding the next elections according to new electoral legislation, the members of the government and parliamentary majority are artificially creating a situation where there is supposedly no time for such discussion.
The Coalition would like to express their gratitude to the Venice Commission and International Federation of Electoral Systems who in their assessments have directly pointed out the need to reach broad consensus and to take the positions of all the main political forces into consideration when determining the content of electoral legislation. They have also expressed reservations over the electoral system proposed by the President, Working Group and in draft Law No. 9265-1.
In view of the above, the members of the Coalition call on Ukraine’s National Deputies to reject at its first reading draft Law No. 9265-1 which proposes to introduce a mixed system and contains a number of other substantive failings, with some of its provisions running directly counter to the Venice Commission’s Opinion. Should new legislation on the parliamentary elections be passed on the basis of this draft law, we call on the President to veto this law, proposing at the same time that all political forces once again return to open discussion as to what electoral legislation must include.
We call on the National Deputies to draw up a consensus based variant of electoral legislation, using as its basis draft law N9265-2, which envisages the introduction of a proportional electoral system with open regional candidate lists.
This statement is open for endorsement
President of the Open Policy Analytical Centre, Ihor Zhdanov
President of the Institute for Legal Policy, Mykola Onishchuk
The Head of the Board of the Centre for Political-Legal Reform, Ihor Koliushko
Director of the Ukrainian Public Policy Institute, Viktor Chumak
Academic Director of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy School of Political Analysis, Oleksy Haran
Head of the Board of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, Oleksandr Chernenko