Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine announced that the renewal of Central Election Commission will be a key topic on the next week. Experts of Civil Network OPORA went to the Parliament to ask MPs what is the probability of the CEC's renewal before the elections. The MPs believe it's not likely to happen.

Yesterday, in an interview to the 112 TV Channel, the Parliament's Speaker Andrii Parubii promised to raise the issue of CEC renewal on the next week. “The key question I am going to put to the vote the next week will be the renewal of CEC membership. I've met leaders of parliamentary factions a month ago already, asking to counsel and decide how we should choose 13 candidates out of 14. I have also emphasized that it should not be postponed forever. On 1 July, I will gather all the leaders again and recommend them not to delay the process and start CEC renewal the next week,” – he said.

Representatives of Civil Network OPORA went to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to ask the MPs to share their opinion on the probability of CEC renewal and whether there are any talks concerning the candidates.

Head of the “Samopomich” Union faction Oleh Bereziuk said that nobody discusses CEC renewal with their faction. “We are the opposition, they do not negotiate with us. Our task is simple. We have a candidate in the updated list, a non-politicized individual, a professional in electoral matters. We can vote for him right now, even today,” – he stated.

Ivan Vinnyk, member of the “Solidarity” Petro Poroshenko Bloc, told: “I don't know if the issued is being discussed or not, but I know that no renewal will occur in the CEC before elections. The window of opportunities is closed, as long as the election campaign starts in autumn already, and nobody is going to change the Commission before two election campaigns in a row,” – he stated.

Co-Head of the “Vidrodzhennia” Party Viktor Bondar believes there are no chances to renew CEC membership before autumn. “We will come back to this issue at best in spring. Everyone is afraid to raise the issue. The Government wants to appoint its candidates to control the majority in the Central Election Commission. However, both opposition factions and most of MPs are against them. It has submitted so many candidates, that other parliamentary factions are left with no representation. It shouldn't be like this! Wasn't it possible to give each faction one member in the CEC? Everyone would see the democracy and such problems wouldn't have appeared. Each opposition faction starts resisting the moment the Government insists on its position and tries to receive the absolute majority,” – the MP shared his thoughts.

Member of the People's Front faction Leonid Yemets believes that the problem may be solved in a day, if the President updates the submission. “I truly hope that this membership of the CEC is not going to organize parliamentary and presidential elections. We are now saying that the problems, which were announced a month ago, are standing on the way of the Parliament trying to resolve the CEC issue. I mean that the submission, registered in the Parliament, is not in line with the recommendations given by PACE and European Parliament. According to the European standards, the Central Election Commission must have at least one representative from each party that has MPs in parliament. However, the existing submission doesn't represent each faction. While this problem exists, besides the fact that the submission has more candidates than vacant positions, the Parliament can't put it to the vote. Ukraine will face serious diplomatic problems if it happens. The thing is, sanctions against Russian Federation are based on the fact that it doesn't follow PACE's Resolution. If Ukraine doesn't follow PACE's Resolution itself, it will not be able to advocate for sanctions against Russian Federation being not better than them and, moreover, it may face the sanctions too. The Parliament mustn't take such decision. Thus, we are waiting until the submission is in line with European standards to vote on it. The President is the only subject, authorized to submit candidates and recall them. There is no place for negotiation, because the structure is fixed. Moreover, this problem could have been resolved in a day. They could at least recall two candidates of 14, leaving one vacant position. Thus, we will be able to explain our European partners that the vacant position is left for an absent faction, and it is going to receive it as soon as the candidate is nominated, – and they will understand that. However, if we will renew the CEC membership, and it will not represent all the factions, the problem will be real. It is much worse than organizing election with the current membership. Although the current membership of Central Election Commission is overstaying from a moral and political point of view, because its term of office expired over three years ago, it is undoubtedly competent before the law. It has no grounds to quit its responsibilities, and its activities are perfectly legitimate,” – he emphasized.

According to non-faction MP Yurii Derevianko, CEC rotation is not going to change the situation while its membership is based on party quotas. “I think that the CEC shouldn't be a political body as it is today, because it is based on party quotas. I believe it's members should be absolutely independent of political parties, appointed on the basis of simple principles, undergo systematic rotation, fulfill their functions, and be protected by the state budget and the law as members of the Central Election Commission. You are asking me about the current CEC membership. The President is okay with it, enjoying the benefits. It is should be renewed, but if it is renewed using the current scheme, the CEC will be under presidential control again, despite the old members are kicked out and new ones take their places. PPB has the majority of its representatives there, and the President had also put his candidates to represent groups of MPs. As you can see, the President will control the CEC anyway. Therefore, I barely have any hope that the renewal is going to make the CEC unbiased and independent,” – he insisted.

Analyst of the Civil Network OPORA Oleksandr Kliuzhev is convinced that it's not acceptable to conduct the upcoming elections with current membership of the CEC. “We believe that such flagrant delay of the decision concerning the CEC demonstrates weakness of the Parliament, which can't take any decision. The Parliament should either support the President's submission, or stand against the way the President suggests to renew the Commission. The MPs should understand that it's not acceptable to administer future national elections with the current membership of the CEC. If this happens, the people will lose their trust to elections, and the CEC will be an easy target for politicians during elections. Thus, to come out of the shadow and making a statement concerning its position is the only way out for the Parliament. Once the position is revealed, regardless of its kind, it will create new conditions for solution of the problem. The Parliament can't hide its head in the sand

We remind that 13 of 15 members of the CEC have had their term of office expired. We remind that 12 of 15 members of the CEC have had their seven-year term of office expired yet on 1 June 2014, and one member – on 3 February 2017. On 1 April 2014, the newly-elected members of the Central Election Commission Kateryna Makhnitska (maiden name Bereziuk) and Oleh Didenko took an oath in the Parliament. Although Petro Poroshenko had submitted the documents for withdrawal of 12 of 15 members of the CEC on 3 June 2016 and appointment of 11 new members, the Parliament hasn't voted on it yet.

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