MPs are jeopardizing local elections
Ukraine’s main election watchdogs OPORA and the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] have warned that the local elections are under threat. Although the election campaign began on April 4, parliament is only due to vote on vital amendments to legislation on April 8.
CVU head, Oleksandr Chernenko warned that if these amendments are blocked, then a dangerous precedent will be created with a second campaign being organized according to the most heavily criticized electoral law in Ukraine’s history. He warns that when local elections are held at the same time as presidential, the local elections receive less attention though they tend to be more problematical from the point of adherence to democratic standards. This could lead to a situation where the presidential elections are reasonably honest and democratic, and the local elections dirty and rigged.
The problems which arose during consideration of the draft bill at its second reading were indicative. MPs linked with the Party of the Regions would not agree to the amendment which would have obliged the Central Election Commission [CEC] to change the makeup of the territorial election commissions in Kyiv and Odessa. Members of those commissions were probably involved in dubious activities during the previous elections. Olha Aivazovska, OPORA coordinator warns that the makeup of these TEC as per existing legislation is not proportionate, and there is an imbalance in which parties held leading positions. There are no TEC at all in some districts, and at present the quorum demanded on election day means that a minority on the commission can adopt decisions.
Other failings of the existing legislation include the fact that only parties can put forward candidates, not individuals who wish to stand for office. It is also dangerously easy to get rid of rivals, by cancelling their registration, or refusing to register them at all.
OPORA, CVU and Internews-Ukraine are calling for improvements to legislation now and say that this is vital to prevent the kind of shenanigans seen during the previous elections.