Opora
It is an important and not so easy task for a state to guarantee political impartiality of public officials. A multi-level and comprehensive approach to guaranteeing of non-interference into political and electoral processes by public officials exists only because formal prohibition is not enough. Legislative prohibitions should come together with counteraction to misuse of administrative resources during elections, effective sanctions, and formation of public aversion to interference in an election process by public officials. Not only the countries, which have unstable legal frameworks and practices, but also developed democratic states, are constantly searching for efficient measures to prevents such misuses. Success in adherence to basic electoral standards, including equal opportunities for candidates, free voting, competitiveness, and impartiality of election administration etc., directly depends on whether these measures are successful.

In the light of upcoming election of the President of Ukraine, OPORA would like to draw attention of state officials at all levels that they should act in line with current legislation and international standards during the election process. The International Code of Conduct for Public Officials, passed by UN General Assembly in 1996, specifies the peculiarities of public officials' participation in an election process. Thus, such activities should be in line with administrative regulations, in order to uphold the public trust in an unbiased service. Public officials are not allowed to use funds, property, services, or information for any activities besides their official duties. According to the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE, member states must “clearly separate the state and political parties, and make sure that political parties don't fuse together with the government”.

International standards in public service and elections are widely reflected in national legislation. Thus, according to the Law of Ukraine On Public Service, political views must not influence decisions or actions of a civil servant, who must not demonstrate his/her attitude to any political party or share political views while in office. Article 10 of this law prohibits to use one's office, or a position of civil servants, officials at local self-government bodies, employees in budget sector, or other individuals for the purpose of election campaigning or participation in events organized by political parties.

Electoral legislation also establishes a number of restrictions for state officials at different levels. In particular, equal rights and conditions for participation in an election process are guaranteed by a prohibition for state authorities and local self-government bodies to interfere in it. Unbiased attitude of state authorities and local self-government bodies, their officials or employees, to candidates for the President of Ukraine, belongs to a problem of equal rights and opportunities in an election process.

The Law of Ukraine on Election of the President of Ukraine prohibits state authorities, their employees and officials, to participate in campaigning efforts while in office (except for when it's a candidate for President himself). Candidates for the President of Ukraine, who hold offices at state government bodies, are prohibited to use subordinates, office transport, communication, equipment, premises, or other objects or resources at his or her place of employment, for campaigning purposes or any related activities. They are also not allowed to campaign during staff or production meetings, and corporate meetings. It is also prohibited to use the premises of state government bodies for campaigning events, and place campaign materials and political advertisement on buildings and in premises of state government bodies.

According to the findings of OPORA's researches conducted in the previous electoral cycles, appointment of party members on positions in state authorities and local self-government bodies, as well as becoming a party members while in office is a usual thing. OPORA has also gathered and summarized information about party membership of heads of raion state administrations, to raise the topicality of adherence to standards of conduct during elections by public officials.

Civil Network OPORA has checked the party affiliation of 444 heads of raion state administrations. However, we have managed to get official information about 382 persons, and the information about 62 heads is still unavailable.

259 of 382 heads of raion state administrations are officially unaffiliated. 32% of RSA heads (123 of 382) are members of political parties. Almost 88% (108 of 123 heads of RSAs) are members of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”.

Party affiliation of heads of RSAs

Number of RSAs in oblasts (except for temporarily occupied territories)472
Number of verified heads of RSAs444
Number of heads of RSAs, whose information is supported with documentation382
Members of Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”108
AUU Batkivshchyna5
Nash Krai1
Vidrodzhennia1
Agrarian Party1
Other parties:7
Unaffiliated259
No information62
% of heads of RSAs, affiliated with political parties (with available information)32.20%
% of heads of RSAs, members of Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” (with available information)28.27%
% of public officials, members of PPB “Solidarity”, appointed by heads of RSAs, affiliated with political parties87.80%

OPORA's observers have gained information about party affiliation of 258 first deputy heads and 282 deputy heads of RSAs. Thus, over 74% (192) first deputy heads of RSAs are unaffiliated. 18.22% (47) first deputy heads of RSAs are members of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”. 219 of 289 verified deputy heads of RSAs are unaffiliated (almost 78%). 43 of 289 deputy heads of RSAs (15%) are members of Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”.

Party affiliation of the first deputy heads and deputy heads of RSAs based on the verified number of positions (is being constantly updated)

Party affiliationFirst Deputy Head of Raion State Administration (including RSA in Kyiv)% of verified positionsDeputy Head of Raion State Administration (including RSA in Kyiv)% of verified positions
Individual is not affiliated with a political party19274.42%21977.66%
Petro Poroshenko Bloc 'Solidarity'4718.22%4315.25%
AUU Batkivshchyna72.71%93.19%
Nash Krai10.39%00.00%
“Vidrodzhennia” Party20.78%00.00%
Other party00.00%00.00%
Agrarian Party31.16%00.00%
The Radical Party of Oleh Liashko20.78%31.06%
Civic Position10.39%10.35%
UKROP10.39%00.00%
People's Movement of Ukraine10.39%00.00%
AUU Svoboda10.39%31.06%
Syla Liudei00.00%10.35%
People's Front00.00%20.71%
PPB “Solidarity”00.00%10.35%
Total number of verified positions258 282 

Based on October-November 2018 monitoring findings, we can summarize that the formal level of politicization of local government bodies is not too high, but there is still a significant risk that state officials will use their powers for campaigning purposes.

The number of officially affiliated public officials is not a comprehensive information about potential challenges for unbiased activities of state government bodies. On one hand, unaffiliated public officials still can use their powers for the benefit of a specific political subject. On the other hand, while being members of political parties, public officials can demonstrate high standards of professional and unbiased activities. However, judging from previous elections, affiliation of public officials in political parties is a sign of a “hazard” for standards of both public service and electoral process.

Systematical observation of high officials at state administrations and communication with them through information inquiries often revealed that officials hide their affiliation with a political party.

While potential candidates for the President of Ukraine have already started early campaigning, activities of public officials are increasingly not in line with their formal status of unaffiliated representatives, and their declarations concerning adherence to the principle of political impartiality.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Personnel policy concerning heads of state administrations at different levels should be aimed at  raising the professionalism and neutrality of state services.

Heads of local state administrations and their deputy heads should refrain from any political functions while in office both during official and early election campaigns.

We also call on political parties to refuse from the use of available levers of influence on activities of state government bodies and their officials.

Local government bodies should demonstrate an initiative in introduction of ethical standards in activities of state officials during election process. Taking public obligation concerning unacceptability of using official status or powers for the purposes of campaigning.

This matters need to be regulated by the legislation, establishing a clear distinction between political active officials and civil servants.

© Civil Network OPORA 2006 - 2018