Opora

National and international institutions gave Ukraine 17 top priority recommendations concerning the electoral reform, but Ukraine has implemented only one, particularly obstruction-free registration and activities of official observers. The rest of 16 recommendations were either partially realized, or not realized at all.

This issue was discussed on a presentation of research findings by Civil Network OPORA “Progress in implementation of recommendations for Ukraine from international electoral missions before the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections” under 2018 Human Dimension Implementation Meeting organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw.

Thus, OPORA has studied 165 recommendations from national and international institutions, united into 17 priorities form the electoral reform.

The list of recommendations includes suggestions from final reports of OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions, final reports of CANEOM, ENEMO EOM observation missions, statements made by NDI delegation, and final reports of Civil Network OPORA based on observation findings for 2014-2018. The list of recommendations also comprise statements from Council of Europe's Action Plan for Ukraine for 2018-2021, Council of Europe's Action Plan for Ukraine for 2015-2017, Ukraine - NATO annual programs on national cooperation for 2013-2018, Resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Statement of G7 Ambassadors, Venice Commission opinions and some other international documents, addressed to Ukraine.

According to the research findings, Ukraine has political resources and legal mechanisms to realize a comprehensive electoral reform. The major reason of the delay is inactive parliamentary dialog and poor political responsibility.

According to Head of the Board of Civil Network OPORA Olha Aivazovska, a number of problems which concern the voting rights of vulnerable citizen groups are among non-realized recommendations. Internally displaced persons and migrant workers, disabled people or national minorities still lack the guarantees for their electoral rights and improvement of access to the voting. Another serious challenge is voting rights of citizens on temporarily occupied territories, who need to be informed more as a result of Russian aggression. The Central Election Commission is not focused now on the development and introduction of special information and awareness programs for this and other categories of citizens.

There is no progress in raising competence of election administration bodies, and no training and testing mechanisms are introduced by the legislation for election commission members. In addition to the usual problems in activities of election commissions, the renewal of CEC members is not happening. The closer the regular election of the President of Ukraine is, the more hazardous delay of CEC renewal becomes for the stability and legitimacy of election process. The recommendation concerning internal reform of the CEC has retained its topicality. According to the research findings, there are no legislative and practical steps towards improvement of the tabulation process and determination of election outcomes.

We welcome the fact that Election Code was adopted in the first reading, and that a new legislation on financing of political parties was introduced, said OPORA's Analyst Oleksandr Neberykut. In 2018, Ukrainian Government registered in the Parliament a draft Law of Ukraine on Strengthening of Liability for Violation of Electoral Legislation. However, the advancement in consideration of draft laws is not a comprehensive reform. Thus, there are negative practices in application of legislation on financing of political parties. These circumstances require additional measures and prompt efforts of Ukrainian government.

National and international institutions proposed state authorities to increase the transparency of State Register of Voters and compilation of voter lists. These practical propositions were not realized despite an increased mobility of Ukrainian citizens and wide scale internal displacement require extra measures for verification of voter lists. Open election data, for its part, is an instrument securing the transparency of election administration.

As for the positive changes, OPORA should mention a decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine to cancel regulations of the Law of Ukraine on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine allowing withdrawal of a candidate by a party when election results have been already announced. Taking into consideration this decision, we call on the Parliament of Ukraine to refrain from adoption of additional decisions or reconsideration of the existing ones, which are contradictory to democratic standards.

5 of 17 top priority recommendations from national and international institutions on improvement of electoral processes are realized partially.

There was also a partial progress reached in the comprehensive electoral reforming through unification of electoral legislation, increasing transparency of political and electoral campaign financing, raising the competence of election commission members, and improvement of political party activities. Another partially realized recommendations concern activities of mass media during the election process. In particular, mass media companies held an internal discussion aimed to strengthen professional journalistic standards during the election process. According to the research findings, state authorities and leading political parties have not finished the implementation of recommendations.

5 priorities for the electoral reform, which haven't been realized yet, do have an implementation plan. These plans, however, are of procedural character. They are not backed by effective political guarantees of a complex problem solution for the election process.

Thus, these priorities are the following: legitimate rotation of CEC members and reform of the CEC; to equip election precincts for the disabled; to increase the efficiency of investigations into electoral crimes; prevention of and sanctions for misuse of administrative resource; guaranteeing the mechanisms for participation of internally displaced persons in elections. These recommendations are of high topicality for the electoral process in Ukraine, they create and foundation for a legitimate electoral process.

According to OPORA's assessment, 6 priorities of the electoral reform were incompletely realized, and state authorities do not have any plans on their realization. These recommendations include: guaranteeing the gender equality on elections; improvement of candidate registration procedures; guaranteeing the participation of national minorities in an election process; informing the voters; improving the vote tabulation and determination of election results; improving the compilation of State Register of Voters and voter lists.

“Ukrainian Parliament has little time to effectively realize the recommendations before regular national elections. To avoid destabilization of the upcoming election process, we need to improve electoral procedures, strengthen the counteraction against electoral crimes and verification of campaign financing, as well as increase the professionalism in election administration,” – OPORA's Analyst Oleksandr Kliuzhev emhpasized.

OPORA calls on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to finish the consideration of draft Election Code and decide on its adoption. This is a matter of political and governmental responsibility for promises to conduct a comprehensive electoral reform.

Full text of OPORA's research

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