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Election watchdog slams law enabling exclusion of candidates after election

18.02.16

The election watchdog OPORA has issued a statement condemning the law on exclusion of parliamentary candidates from an election list. The bill was, OPORA says, adopted illegally on Feb 16 and should be repealed. They say that if the Verkhovna Rada refuses to withdraw the bill, then it should be vetoed by President Petro Poroshenko.

The bill No. 3700 allows for a candidate in a multi-mandate electoral district to be removed from the candidate list after the election results have been announced, if the decision is taken by a party congress. The law would apply to the lists of parties that took part in the October 2014 parliamentary elections. Unless the law is revoked, parties will be able to change the order of candidates on the candidate lists after votes have already been cast.

OPORA points out that the bill was adopted with serious infringements of procedure, and that it does not provide the grounds which would enable the removal of a candidate. Nor does it outline procedure for the relevant decision at a party congress.

Perhaps most importantly, the law fails to comply with recommendations and opinions of competent international organizations regarding the inadmissibility of the party dictating who is elected. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated, for example, in the PACE Resolution on Functioning of Democratic Institutes in Ukraine in April 2007 that the recall of elected representatives by political parties is inadmissible in a democratic state. The Venice Commission, for its part, indicated in its opinion to draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine as of 13.12.2003 that attachment of MP’s mandate to membership in a parliamentary faction, party or bloc makes this party or bloc above the voters, who don’t have any instruments to cancel mandates acquired through an election.