Fair Play and Ukrainian Parliament


In an article for Ukrainska Pravda, Viktoria Syumar writes that “fair play” is very much in fashion these days – except where Ukrainian politics is concerned.  There the “competition” takes place without rules, and most definitely without fair play.  This results, she says, in the rule of might, leading to corruption, a weak opposition and each Ukrainian being vulnerable.

“Without rules which become the basis for the political process, no elections and no change of faces will change anything. “

It is drawing up these minimum rules of play which the civic campaign CHESNO is engaged in. As reported already, the campaign unites over 150 NGOs and hundreds of activists throughout the country.

They want to ascertain whether deputies and candidates for such posts comply with 6 core democratic values:

  1. No infringements of human rights and civil liberties;
  2. Unwavering political position corresponding to the will of the voters;
  3. No involvement in corrupt activities;
  4. Transparency of declared income and property and their correspondence to the person’s lifestyle;
  5. Personal voting in parliament;
  6. Participation in parliamentary sessions and the work of parliamentary committees.

Personal voting in parliament

This core value arouses the most criticism with the arguments most often being that “everybody” behaves the same.  This crosses party divides. ‘

None, the author notes, seems concerned that simply handing over ones card for somebody to “vote” on your behalf is a direct violation of Article 84 of the Constitution. This violation is observed by Ukrainians everyday in parliament.

The author stresses the vital importance of MPs complying with the main law of the land.

With 226 votes needed for a law to be passed, it is standard to have no more than 100 actual MPs present.  She points out that these may be vital laws that are being voted on, and recalls that on one such crucial occasions journalists videoed the process of “voting” in the absence of very many MPs.  They called on the President to refuse to sign the law passed with such infringements of the Constitution, but were ignored.

The consequences of such infringements are extremely serious.

Firstly, most laws in Ukraine are adopted in such an illegitimate fashion and therefore could, should the Constitutional Court decide to be guided by the letter of the law, be overturned;

Secondly, by handing over their card, MPs are giving up the most important thing that they have – their right to vote, their right to their own political position in the interests of the voters.

By behaving like this, she stresses, MPs have themselves brought about a situation where the public and leaders view them as technical personnel there to run about between the rows and press buttons.

The next consequence is a catastrophic reduction in the role of parliament itself.  She says that parliament’s influence has never sunk to such depths as now, with factions simply receiving instructions how to vote.

CHESNO’s task is:

to ensure personal voting in full accordance with the Constitution and MPs’ duty before voters;

to identify those who in spite of the system where MPs are fettered have managed to maintain their own position and their right to personal voting. Information about how current MPs meet this criterion will be published in July.

to achieve change in the parliament formed after October 2012 and an important move in the direction of greater quality of representation.

Heavily abridged from the article by Victoria Syumar at Ukrainska Pravda

Photos by Hanna Hrabarska, CHESNO

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