Parliamentary Commission begins attempts to amend electoral law
Members of the opposition have prepared 20 amendments to the draft law on the parliamentary elections tabled by the ruling majority. The amendments concern fundamental elements of the law. It is suggested, for example, that 75% of the deputies should be elected according to party lists and only 25% according to majority constituencies. The opposition is warning that if the majority does not take their proposals into account, its representatives will boycott the elections.
A closed session of the Special Commission on preparing an agreed draft law was held on Tuesday. Kommersant-Ukraine spoke afterwards to Serhiy Podhorny from the BYUT-Batkivshchyna faction. One of the opposition members suggested that the Special Commission analyze previously rejected draft laws, but this was not supported by the majority. “It was stated that there are five draft laws which need to be considered and one decided on. Which is not difficult to guess”, Mr Podhorny said.
As reported earlier, the leaders of the ruling majority, headed by the leader of the Party of the Regions faction, Alexander Yefremov, registered draft Law no. 9265-1 which proposes a mixed electoral system; increasing the election threshold for parties entering the Verkhovna Rada from 3% to 5%; prohibiting political blocs from taking part in the elections. The draft laws proposed by the opposition and rejected envisaged electoral thresholds up to 3%, a proportional electoral system and other changes.
The meeting agreed to exchange specific proposals on Thursday. As mentioned the opposition are planning to insist on 20 amendments.
One is the introduction of open candidate lists and change in the proportion of proportional and majority system elected candidates from 50-50 to 75% proportional against 25% majority. The newspaper’s source said that the opposition is trying in that way to reduce the number of Party of the Regions deputies in the Verkhovna Rada, with that Party hoping to get at least 300 deputies at the 2012 elections.
300 or over is a constitutional majority, allowing the Party of the Regions to make whatever changes it wishes to the Constitution
It should be noted that the Venice Commission and OSCE Joint Opinion on the draft electoral law shown to it (which did not have some highly contentious norms added to draft Law No. 9255-1) is highly critical of the mixed system proposed and points out that Ukraine has negative experience of such a system which helps only the party in power. The report, as well as that from the International Federation of Electoral Systems and from Ukrainian NGOs specializing in electoral issues, give a generally negative assessment of the draft law, as well as the non-transparent manner in which it was drawn up without broad discussion.
The opposition will also be insisting on removal of the norm which proposes removal of a candidate if she or he has received two warnings (this norm was added after the draft law was sent to the Venice Commission); return of the norm on election campaigning being paid for from public funding, including publication of the parties’ electoral programmes; free access by candidates and members of parties to State or municipal TV and radio outlets
“If a large part of our demands are not met, we will leave the working group and walk out of the chamber during the vote. We will also declare the results of the elections run on the basis of this law illegitimate. This will be a blow to the President’s authority since they are closely following the preparation of this law in the West.”
One of the leaders of the Party of the Regions, wishing to remain unnamed, told Kommersant – Ukraine that the ruling majority have two provisions which they do not intend to give up, these being the mixed system with a ratio of 50-50 and raising the threshold to 5%. He said that if the opposition did not take part in drawing up a new draft law by 17 November, than parliament would adopted the version in draft Law No. 9255-1
From the report at Kommersant – Ukraine (text in italics is added by the translator) Photo by Serhiy Tsvyakh, Kommersant