Civil Network OPORA continues to talk to representatives of various political forces on our Facebook page, within the “Deputy Day” program - we discuss changes to the Electoral Code and the conduct of local elections. This Friday, April, 10, the program invited Tetiana Plachkova, a people’s deputy from the “Oppositional Platform – For Life” faction, and Roman Lozynskyi, a deputy from the “Holos” party. They both are members of the Committee of Verkhovna Rada on Organization of State Power, Local Self-Government, Regional Development, and Urban Planning.

According to Tetiana Plachkova, life and health of Ukrainian citizens are the most important things. At the same time, from a legal perspective, pursuant to the Constitution, it is not possible to postpone local elections.

“I believe that the capacity of the local elections is an even more debatable issue. In accordance with the new Electoral Code, we make sense that the first most burning question will be about the decentralization. The fact that it is not completed yet, and also because due to the quarantine, certain draft laws cannot be approved. I may not support it, but I do realize that there is no other way to take. If the draft laws are not approved in due time, it may be a legal ground for not having the elections, for the lack of respective legislation. Since we do not see the final version of the draft changes to the budget, but there are some ideas in the air that certain funds may be deleted, and it may also be a problem the Government would have to address. I am aware that the CEC has open questions about the possibility to have elections, and the about the need to introduce changes to the Electoral Code we have adopted. Because we all understand there is no ideal electoral law over there, and the due changes shall be introduced there, too,” says the deputy.

Tetiana Plachkova underlined the need to adopt the law on the referendum, and also shared about the possibility to submit the draft law on district zoning to the special parliamentary session.

“I talked to the peer committee members about the draft law on district zoning (2653), to be able to submit it for consideration for the ad-hoc meeting. You do understand this is not the highest priority draft law to be submitted for the special parliamentary session. But this was the proposal suggested by the colleagues from the “Servant of the People” faction; I must agree with the factions’ position. I have not had a chance yet to ask how the faction is going to treat this issue in particular, such as submitting the draft law to the extra-ordinary session. But it is not for the coming Monday, to be sure, it is for the future. We do not know when the regular meeting is going to take place, but on Monday we are going to have an ad-hoc meeting, and then, as far as I understand from talking with colleagues from the “Servant of the People”, there might be another special meeting, where these issues may be settled,” states she.

According to Tetiana Plachkova, some other debatable issues of the Electoral Code are the high monetary deposit for candidates, and the electoral system for local elections in respect to the population size.

The same shortcomings have also been mentioned by Roman Lozynskyi, a people’s deputy from the “Holos.”

“The first and basic position of the “Holos” on the most pertinent changes is to reduce the monetary deposit amount. We know it has not been adopted in this Parliament, I mean this decision and the previous convocation. However, after the presidential veto, it stayed, because the veto has not mentioned this aspect. On the other hand, we do understand that access to elections is limited due to the over-blown deposit amount. Therefore, the “Holos” faction is talking out loud about it, and also, jointly with colleagues from other factions, we registered the draft law No 2769, where we stipulated the nine-fold reduction of deposits. In other words, to illustrate with Kyiv case, in 2015, the deposit was UAH 104,000. Presently, according to the Code, it is slightly above UAH 4 mln. If we reduce the amount 9 times, the deposit for Kyiv will be в UAH 445,000. In other words, it will be higher than at the previous elections because the minimum wages have grown, but not sky-rocketed. You know, the Mayor of London needs to pay a deposit of USD 13,000, and for the Mayor of Kyiv it is USD 167,000, when converted to dollars. That is to say, these are not mere numbers; it is about the access of Ukrainians to exercising their right to run for candidacy. That is why, in the first place, we advocate for reduction of deposits. As far as we understand, the discussion shall be resumed because we have not seen any solid position thereon in the Parliament,” – Lozynskyi says.

“Another item on our agenda is about open lists. We currently do understand that open lists are rather on the cover. Because 25% of the electoral quota, in order to move up the list, is not about any theoretical numbers, either. It is about the barrier, while people shall elect a party, and the specific candidate, a specific citizen. That is why if anyone wishes to increase the quota (and we have been hearing such various moods among different factions) – let alone the reduction, but to increase, it is obvious that we are not going to be totally against this approach. We support the reduction of the quota. There are positions of international partners, OPORA used to declared it, too – about the 5% of electoral quota. This is how it works in Poland, while many countries do not have it at all. That is to say, we are totally open for open lists, so that each Ukrainian citizen could check the box of the party, to vote for the candidate, and to impact this transition. It is also our basic position,” – adds he.

The MP also revealed about the risks they discussed with other factions after the first ad-hoc meeting.

“In fact, when beyond the deposit, we also talk about the electoral quota, about the open lists, we also talk about, for example, how important it is for people to be able to self-nominate on the local level. On the one hand, there are big parties that have been operating for a long time, and have their regional branches. They find it beneficial to have everyone run under their flags. However, we are against the excessive politization on the local level. After all, local self-government is not identical to national politics, and you cannot deprive people of the right to self-nominate themselves for the race, regardless of the political parties. It is the position of our team. That is why we are going to respond rather vehemently to any such moves, because we do not support it,” states Roman Lozynskyi.