On 17 December 2020, mass media have started to publish information about the death of Kharkiv Mayor Hennadii Kernes. Thus, different collegial bodies must act in line with Ukrainian laws, i.e., identify the fact of death, terminate the mayor's authority, and call an early election. OPORA publishes a legal comment on the exhaustive list of actions that should lead to a new mayor's election.
According to Article 42(2) of the Law on Local Self-Government, in case a mayor dies, mayoral authorities go to the city council secretary. The city council secretary then exercises mayoral duties since the early termination of mayoral powers and until a new mayor gets elected on an early election in line with the law, or until the first session of the regularly elected city council.
Part 3 of the same Article says the person temporarily exercising mayoral powers, i.e., council secretary, shall apply to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for the appointment of the early mayoral election in the 15-day term after the death of the current mayor. The Verkhovna Rada shall consider such a petition within 90 days since the current mayor's powers are terminated and take the corresponding decision under Article 194(3) of the Election Code.
At the same time, according to Article 79(11.1) of the Law on Local Self-Government, the date when the mayor's powers are terminated early due to the death is the day the corresponding council passes a decision identifying this fact. Thus, the 90-day period for deciding on the early election starts when the council acknowledges death in its decision. However, this regulation does not specify the deadlines for such acknowledgment, and, therefore, the appointment of early mayoral election by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine may be delayed.
According to Article 5(1) of the Election Code, early local elections, interim, first, and by-elections are held twice a year - on the last Sunday in March and on the last Sunday in October.
According to Article 195(1) of the Election Code, an early local election shall be appointed not later than 60 days before the election day, and the campaign starts 50 days before the day of a regular or early local election.
Therefore, if the Verkhovna Rada does not decide on the early election by the end of January 2021 (60 days before 28 March), the early election may be scheduled for the last Sunday of October.