On 16 February, Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Law of Ukraine on Amendment of the Law on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine (concerning exclusion of MP candidates from an electoral list in multi-mandate district). The Law (#3700) was introduced by leaders of five parliamentary factions, Petro Poroshenko Bloc, Solidarity, People's Front, Samopomich Union, AUU Batkivshchyna, and Radical Party of Oleh Liashko.
Civil Network OPORA calls on Ukrainian Parliament to repeal this law due to the gross violation of parliamentary procedure rules in the process of its adoption. This step would stop disappointment of the public in the Parliament and political process as a whole. However, if the Verkhovna Rada refuses to repeal this Law, we call on the President of Ukraine to veto it.
The Law of Ukraine on Amendment of the Law on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine (concerning exclusion of MP candidates from an electoral list in multi-mandate district) allows removing an MP candidate from an election list after the election results are announced, based on the corresponding decision taken at a political party's congress. This Law spreads on electoral lists of political parties that were electoral subjects in 26 October 2014 early parliamentary elections in Ukraine. In other words, when this Law enters into force, parties will be able to change the priority of candidates in electoral lists of parliamentary parties.
At the same time, lawmakers have failed to establish the grounds for exclusion of a candidate from electoral list after the election results are announced. The Law doesn't provide any procedure for taking the corresponding decision at a party congress, but requires its registration in the Central Election Commission.
OPORA makes the following statements about adoption of the bill #3700:
- The Law of Ukraine on the Parliamentary Procedure Rules was grossly violated in adoption of the Draft Law #3700, as long as it received the required number of votes in support after the first unsuccessful voting in the Parliament.
Thus, after the first unsuccessful vote on 16 February 2015, the bill was supposed to be rejected with prohibition of the repeated submission for Parliament's consideration at the next two sessions (according to the Article 107 of the Law of Ukraine on the Parliamentary Procedure Rules). However, after leaders of five parliamentary factions insisted, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine voted to return the bill for consideration on the same day, and adopted it as a basis and as a whole despite such actions were against the parliamentary procedure rules.
Moreover, decision not to consider the bill in the second reading was also taken with breach of the parliamentary procedure rules. According to the corresponding minutes of Parliament's plenary sitting, some MPs of Ukraine had remarks concerning the bill and, according to the procedure, a law may be adopted in the first reading with the second or the third skipped only if the bill doesn't need any further elaboration and MPs don't have any remarks about it. Besides that, the bill #3700 had a record-breaking number of attempts to be included in the agenda from December 2015 to February 2016 (25 times).
- Draft Law #3700 doesn't correspond to recommendations and opinions of competent international organizations regarding inadmissibility of party dictate over elected representatives of the people. Draft Law #3700 establishes such dictate at the level of electoral lists.
International organizations, particularly the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) gave the imperative mandate for Ukrainian MPs a negative assessment. For example, it was indicated in the PACE Resolution on Functioning of Democratic Institutes in Ukraine of 19.04.2007 that recall of elected representatives by political parties is an inadmissible practice for a democratic state. The Assembly emphasized that a consistent political program, responsible and devoted party members, and captious selection of candidates are more efficient instruments used to maintain discipline in a party or faction (paragraph 9 of the Resolution). The Venice Commission, for its part, indicated in its opinion to draft amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine as of 13.12.2003 that attachment of MP's mandate to membership in a parliamentary faction, party or bloc makes this party or bloc above the voters, who don't have any instruments to cancel mandates acquired through an election.
These recommendations concerning inadmissibility of party dictate over representatives of the people also concern the bill #3700, as long as this bill gives party leaders, in fact, absolute power to reconsider the list of already elected MPs after the election results are announced. The bill establishes application of a specific imperative party mandate that is above the will of the people.
- Regulations of the bill #3700 undermine people's confidence in election outcomes and institution of elections as a whole.
According to the effective legislation on election of people's deputies of Ukraine, the voters give their votes for the whole list of party candidates, not to the certain candidates. These party lists, however, have a priority for candidates taken into consideration by the voters. If the priority changes after election results are announced, it influences the will of the people.
- An attempt to apply the bill to electoral lists of current parliamentary factions displays that faction leaders are politically motivated to lobby for the corresponding bill in order to adjust the legislation to internal party challenges.
As it is widely known, the newly-adopted laws do not have retroactive force and, therefore, any attempts to apply the bill #3700 to the current Parliament are questionable from the legal perspective.
Thus, OPORA is convinced that the bill #3700 was adopted contrary to the Parliamentary Procedure Rules, and its regulations are against constitutionality of the election process.
Therefore, OPORA calls on MPs of Ukraine to repeal the Law of Ukraine on Amendment of the Law on Elections of People's Deputies of Ukraine (concerning exclusion of MP candidates from an electoral list in multi-mandate district), based on the Article 48 of Parliamentary Procedure Rules and with consideration of violated legislative procedure. The corresponding Resolution on repeal of the Law was registered within legal time frame by an MP.
We call on the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and MPs of Ukraine to stop degradation of legislative process in Ukraine and stop violations of Parliamentary Procedure Rules, which occur too often in Ukraine.
Extra information. You are welcome to see which MPs supported introduction of the imperative party mandate at rada4you.org.