On 23 January 2018, the President of Ukraine has announced on the meeting with VRU Chairman Andrii Parubii that he has signed the submission on appointment of Central Election Commission members. The President has also signed a resignation letter for CEC members, whose term of office has expired. According to the Press-service of the President of Ukraine, the submission contains 14 persons, while only 13 CEC members should be substituted. Members of the CEC Oleh Dydenko and Kateryna Makhnytska were appointed in April 2014, and their seven-year term hasn't expired yet. The President's submission concerning withdrawal and appointment of the CEC members is a step towards renewal of the higher-level election commission. However, political subjects should make an extra effort to create a politically balanced membership.

OPORA welcomes the end of political consultations between the President of Ukraine, parliamentary factions and groups of MPs concerning the candidates and the progress in rotation process. We believe that politically motivated delay in renewal of the CEC membership, expected yet in June 2014, has undermined the trust of Ukrainian citizens in the institute of elections and affected Ukraine's image on the international level. In particular, G7 ambassadors have emphasized in their joint statement that it's necessary to form a politically balanced CEC with long term of office.

The fact that the President has submitted the candidates for members of the CEC to the Parliament after prolonged discussions makes us hope for a successful renewal of election commission membership.

OPORA strongly calls on the VRU Chairman and the VRU Committee on Judicial Policy and Justice to consider the appointment of CEC members in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada and other legislation. In particular, it's important that the Parliament could vote on each candidate separately, to guarantee an opportunity for discussion of candidates by MPs.

Transparent and inclusive activities of the competent Parliamentary Committee are also important in the preparation of the CEC renewal issue for consideration on a plenary meeting of the Parliament, allowing the MPs to take a balanced decision on each suggested candidate. We would like to emphasize, that any attempts to substitute the legislative procedures with behind-the-scene agreements will become the continuation of delegitimization of the CEC as an important state body.

Having analyzed the candidates for the CEC membership, we made a conclusion that the President had failed to guarantee the political balance when considering nominees from parliamentary factions and groups. Thus, the list of candidates, submitted by the President and published by the Press-service of the President of Ukraine, lacks the nominees from the AUU Batkivshchyna and the Opposition Bloc party. According to OPORA's data, gained on the basis of the Law on Access to Public Information, these parliamentary factions have submitted alternative nominees for membership of the CEC repeatedly and in time.

OPORA regrets that political subjects have failed to compromise during previous consultations concerning formation of a politically balanced membership of the CEC representing each parliamentary faction or group without an exception. Non-inclusion of candidates, suggested by the certain parliamentary factions or groups, contradicts the international standards of formation and functioning of higher election administration bodies. In particular, according to the Venice Commission's Guiding Principles for Elections, the CEC should have representatives of parliamentary political parties among its members, or parties, which have gained the certain percentage of votes. Guiding Principles say that political parties should be equally represented in election commissions or have an opportunity to watch their activities.

OPORA calls on the President of Ukraine, parliamentary factions and groups of MPs to consider each candidate in accordance with the Rules of Procedure and reach a compromise providing a politically balanced membership of the CEC. For example, if a candidate is not supported by the Parliament, the MPs may suggest the President to submit new candidates. The President, for his part, has legal powers for consideration of discussed in the Parliament candidates and formation of a balanced and efficient membership of the CEC. Inclusion of candidates from each faction and group is essential for restoration of public trust in the CEC, observance of the balance of interests, prevention of shadow influences on future decisions of the CEC, and guarantee of its independence.

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