Paradoxes of the New Law on the Local Elections
According to the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU], the most important innovations of the new version of the Law on the Elections to the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of the Crimea, the local councils and village, settlement and city heads” concern the procedure for formation of the electoral commissions (Articles 22 and 23 of the Law). In comparison with the previous version of the Law, the new one does not sufficiently regulate the actions of those involved in forming the electoral councils; their activities according to the new law are more subjective. They are, in addition, difficult to appeal against.
Regional and district territorial electoral commissions [TEC], TEC of cities under regional jurisdiction, are formed by the Central Election Committee, and they are made up by people put forward by party branches registered in those regions (districts, cities). At the same time, parties represented in the Verkhovna Rada can put forward three candidates for each TEC. There are 16 political parties represented in the Verkhovna Rada which together can put forth 48 candidates of whom the CEC will include only 15 people. This selection for the CEC is regulated only by a purely subjective criterion – “taking into account their work in electoral commissions.”
Unlike the previous version of the law, the new law is lacking the principle of proportionality in distributing leading posts. As a result, for example, representatives of one party can become the heads of all regional, district and city TECs.
On the whole such subjective procedure for the formation of TECs “of top level” gives a significant advantage to those parties with a majority in the CEC.
Analogous innovations have been introduced regarding the formation of precinct commissions [PEC]. These are formed by TECs from candidates submitted by organizations of parties taking part in the elections and candidates, following the same subjective principle - “taking into account their work in electoral commissions.”
Here, however, what is more important is the fact that in forming PECs, not only is the principle of proportionality in distributing leading posts not allowed for, but here there are not even restrictions on candidates from one party occupying leading roles in one PEC.
For example, party X has put forward a candidate for Mayor and candidate for deputy in the electoral district containing a polling station. And this party organization and its candidates put forward candidates for the PEC. If there is control over the TEC, then all three of its representatives are not only included in the PEC, but are appointed the head, the deputy head and the secretary of the commission.
According to the new version of the Law, both in the formation of TECs and PECs, those involved in forming the electoral commissions turn down representations submitted by party organizations or participants in the elections, and the candidates they submit, without passing any formal decisions. This will make it difficult to appeal against their actions to a higher electoral commission or the courts.
CVU experts believe that these innovations can place in question the equality of electoral rights of all participants during the local elections of 31 October 2010.
Alexei Svyetikov, Luhansk Regional Branch of CVU
31 August 2010