Parliament finally adopts important local election amendments
A small majority (245) in parliament on Tuesday adopted a law introducing amendments to the gravely flawed local elections act. Among the most important changes are those concerning the makeup of election commissions which played a major role in vote rigging over recent elections. As reported, Ukraine’s main election watchdogs – OPORA and the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] had warned of the dangers of yet another election being held “according to the most heavily criticized electoral law in Ukraine’s history.”
The election campaign began on April 4, with both OPORA and CVU stressing that MPs were risking sabotaging these important elections. One of the difficulties which arose during the second reading of the bill were typical, with MPs close to the Party of the Regions having objected to the planned change in makeup of territorial election commissions in Kyiv and Odessa.
The electoral legislation pushed through because of Party of the Regions and communist support received wide criticism both in Ukraine and abroad, with particular condemnation for regulations which allowed election commission makeup which suited the ruling Party of the Regions.
The law passed on April 8:
changes the procedure for forming territorial election commissions; the grounds for suspension of members; as well as the manner by which the heads, deputy heads and secretaries of such commissions are appointed;
Increases the requirements for a quorum at election commission meetings and for the adoption of decisions;
improves and strengthens the role of official observers;
The law removes the norm which meant that only central party organizations put forward candidates for the elections.
The creation of TEC in Kyiv and Odessa remained a fraught issue, as well as the question of whether elections in cities with over 500 thousand voters would be held in two rounds. The issues did not get parliament’s support, though there are plans to address the issue of two-round elections in Kyiv in a separate law.