Four Members of the CEC call on Yanukovych to bring electoral process on democratic course
Four members of the Central Election Commission [CEC] have addressed an open letter to President Yanukovych expressing concerns over the electoral process for the local elections on 31 October and speaking of the need to bring it back on democratic course.
They state that as members of the Central Election Commission they swore to ensure and protect the electoral rights of Ukrainian citizens.
“However the course of the electoral process demonstrates quite clearly that there are systemic factors which make it impossible to run the local elections in accordance with international standards of free, just, honest and transparent elections, observing citizens’ electoral rights.
For example, the formation of territorial electoral commissions [TEC] was carried out with infringements of the legally established principles of equality of the participants in the electoral process and impartiality of public bodies of power, including towards local party organizations.
Unfortunately by a vote of the majority in the CEC the will of the legislators was distorted and advantages, not envisaged in the Law were established for only three political parties – the Party of the Regions, the Communist Party and the People’s Party [Speaker Lytvyn’s party], thus infringing the interests of the remaining twelve parliamentary parties. Furthermore, despite legislatively established equality, the weight of the rights of some parties has been artificially reduced by several times in comparison with others. And although this is not established by law, the majority of members of the CEC used as their criterion the extremely subjective factor – the opposition or pro-regime orientation of parties.
As a result, the principle of parity in forming electoral commissions has been abused with this effectively distorting their collegiate nature, and creating a threat to and mechanism for abuse of powers. The numerical relation of members in the commissions together with the distribution of leading positions, demonstrate the dominance of particular political parties in directing the work of the electoral commissions.
The quantitative spread of posts of heads of territorial electoral commissions, formed by the CEC, is indicative. The People’s Party have over 15% of the posts; the Communist Party – over 9%, Batkivshchyna (Tymoshenko’s Party) – over 16%, while the Party of the Regions have over 32% of such parties which is many times in excess of the representation of any other party.
Another example of disregard for universally accepted democratic standards regarding free elections can be seen in the unprecedented cases of interference by state authorities in the activities of political parties in order to block their participation in the elections.
With the creation of doubles of Kyiv and Lviv regional branches of Batkivshchyna one is forced to state that such a shameful phenomenon as raider seizures has been built into the electoral process as an element of administrative resources.
It is indicative that the Kyiv Court of Appeal has scheduled its examination of the appeal lodged by Batkivshchyna against the ruling of the Pechersky District Court in Kyiv (effectively about the possibility of participation in the local elections of Batkivshchyna) for 14 December 2010, that is, a month and a half after the elections!
However the most serious threats to fair and honest elections are caused by the Law itself which provides fairly broad scope for violations and abuse. Particularly extraordinary is the norm in Article 27 which makes it possible on Election Day when counting the votes, and establishing the figures and results of the local elections to pass a decision of the electoral commission by a majority of votes from those present. This de facto not only negates the collegiate principle of the work of commissions, but the possibility of carrying out their powers since in the name of one precinct electoral commission, for example, a large precinct, there can be eight different decisions or protocols. Therefore it is extremely urgent to correct the legislative rules on such key issues as organization of the work of electoral commissions, appealing against their decisions, actions or inaction, on establishing the results of the elections.
In view of the circumstances which are pushing the course of the electoral process beyond the limits of international standards of free and fair elections, sharing your concern for the running of the local elections in accordance with democratic norms and principles, we are forced to turn to you, Mr President, with the request to take urgent measures to set the electoral process on a democratic course.
Presidential Instruction No. 1-1/2161 from 16 September 2010 to executive bodies; law enforcement agencies, as well as the CEC proposed taking comprehensive measures for the unconditional implementation of electoral legislation and the holding of honest, democratic elections for bodies of local self-government .
However it will be possible to give your Instruction real substance only on condition that changes are made to the profile law, as well as amendments to its application by the CEC, when with a majority and without taking into account objective circumstances, and their analysis to check their compliance with the Law, not only unlawful decisions are passed, but international standards of free fair, honest and transparent elections are rendered meaningless.
Elections are the basis of democracy. The existence of Ukraine beyond the democratic community would entail the destruction of Ukraine’s statehood, the violation of human rights and civil liberties.
The letter is signed by members of the CEC