NGOs call for real movement on improving electoral legislation
Civic organizations, including the election watchdogs - Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] and OPORA – are calling for amendments to be made to the law on the parliamentary and local elections now, well in advance of the 2015 elections.
In a statement issued on 10 September, 7 NGOs stress that progress on adopting an Electoral Code is one of the requirements for the signing of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
They point out that for 15 years now various Presidents and political parties, including all those currently in parliament, have declared willingness to work on drawing up and passing an Electoral Code. In November 2010 President Yanukovych formed a Working Group on improving electoral legislation, yet this failed to put forward any proposals on changing the Laws on Presidential Elections and on Local Elections. They note that Ukraine’s preparation for the Association Agreement is confined to discussion of potential changes to the Law on the Parliamentary Elections, with no mention of the others.
A draft Electoral Code was tabled in parliament in 2010, yet never adopted, despite being drawn up in cooperation with all political parties, as well as national and international experts, and receiving a positive assessment from the Venice Commission. Politicians also keep coming up with dubious arguments against standardization of all legal regulation for elections, this running counter to previous statements regarding need for such standardization.
They therefore urge that:
1. a year before the 2015 local elections amendments are prepared and adopted to the Law on the Local Elections. This at present does not meet generally accepted standards, and cannot form the basis for local elections in line with international norms and practice. The amendments should be aimed at unifying all electoral laws.
2. transparent, open and inclusive discussion is held on changes to all three electoral laws. These should be aimed at reaching consensus on the electoral systems to be used in national and local elections, and on procedure for holding those elections.
3. once consensus is reached on the electoral systems and procedure, work be restarted on drawing up and adopting a single Electoral Code.
They suggest that the draft Code favourably assessed by the Venice Commission can provide a solid basis for work, especially with respect to election procedure.
The statement is signed by the Centre for Political and Legal Reform; the Centre for Political Studies and Analysis; CVU; the Electoral Law Institute; Internews-Ukraine; and OPORA;