Civil Network OPORA sent to city mayors of oblast centers the letters with proposals to sign the “Code of Conduct of Public Officials and Civil Servants During the Election Process,” and adhere to it during local elections due on October, 25. The election process officially started in Ukraine on September, 5, 2020.
OPORA’s initiative was born because the Ukrainian law has the underregulated rules for the conduct of officials from public authorities and local self-government during elections. Neither does it have any restrictions on the use of administrative resource. Thus, for example, the Electoral Code of Ukraine bans the campaigning activities to officials during their working hours, unless they are the candidates. However, the aspect of using public finance in favour of certain candidates and parties is not regulated at all. That is why, when documenting different methods of abusing the administrative resource, observers have to rely on international standards only, rather than on the Ukrainian law.
OPORA is certain that city mayors, like nobody else, have the keen interest in having the fair and democratic elections in their cities. Indeed, they do live in their communities, and interact with the citizens on a daily basis, and tackle many issues of local relevance. Abuse of administrative resources may largely contribute to the reputational losses and undermine trust of local citizens to all initiatives suggested by the city mayor and the city council, even if they have all the good intentions.
The Code suggested by OPORA to sign includes basic ethical requirements to the conduct of officials and civil servants, in order to avoid any actions that might qualify as abuse of the 5 types of administrative resources, such as the personnel and material, budgetary, law-enforcement, regulatory, and media resources. For instance, the use of official insider information for political purposes; pressure on canddiates or party representatives; engaging the subordinates to the pre-election campaigning; the use of official events related to the official duty performance for electoral purposes, etc.
Civil Network OPORA expresses the sincere hope that city mayors support the initiative and sign the Code. In any event, of either signing, or not signing the document, the organization shall monitor the performance of the city heads and inform the public and the media if any elements of abuse of administrative resource or other violations are detected.
In addition, OPORA developed the guidelines how to sign the Code of Conduct at local elections.