New Electoral Law – Parliament’s Tactical Victory, Strategic Defeat
The Civic Consortium of Electoral Initiatives is concerned by the recent compromise between government and opposition with regard to the law on the election of National Deputies (law on the parliamentary elections). Following a hurried vote for new rules of running the electoral campaign, 366 National Deputies passed an overtly unconstitutional provision regarding the possibility of simultaneously running for election under party lists in a single nationwide constituency and in single mandate constituencies under a mixed system. The Constitutional Court back in 1998 declared an analogous provision unconstitutional. The law passed is a dangerous signal to society that the Constitution can be breached for the sake of temporary political compromise. Furthermore, due to the hurried adoption of the law, a number of its provisions have proved extremely contradictory which could complicate organization of the following elections.
The Civic Consortium of Electoral Initiatives is therefore asking the President as Guarantor of the Constitution and initiator of electoral law reform, to initiate review of the contentious, unconstitutional and uncoordinated norms in order to bring them into line with the Constitution, remove possible equivocation in their application and ensure the proper preparation for and running of the elections.
Overall the bill adopted improves a considerable number of procedural provisions of the draft law tabled by a group of National Deputies headed by Oleksandr Yefremov [Head of the Party of the Regions faction – translator]. The innovations, if they are properly implemented, could help to hold the 2012 elections in accordance with generally recognized standards. However in the absence of the political will for this, as well as if administrative resources are used, the election results will not be free of rigging.
The mixed electoral system on which the future parliament will be based is an extremely weighty corruption-generating risk factor for the parliamentary elections. The retention of closed candidate lists in a proportional system will not contribute to the development of internal party democracy, while the election results in single-mandate constituencies could become the object of unlawful influence and manipulation. Unfortunately, the political agreements did not result in a lowering of the election threshold from 5% which will seriously impede the appearance of new blood in parliament and could lead to the loss of a considerable number of votes cast.
The Civic Consortium of Electoral Initiatives which is made up of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine; the Civic Network OPORA; the Ukrainian Independent Centre for Political Research and the Laboratory of Legislative Initiatives, would point out that the main aims of the reform were to codify and improve electoral legislation. In the view of the members of the Consortium, these aims, declared by the President, have not yet been achieved.