When the rules are not set when the game begins, there is no winners. This is the program "Elections Inside Out". Let's talk about the rules of local elections.
You know who your mayor is, but you do not know any member of your local council and do not vote in the local elections at all? And at the same time, you do not like everything: starting with transport and ending with financing of repairs at preschools?
This can be changed in fall. On October 25, local elections will be held to choose new members of oblast, raion, city, settlement, village councils and city mayors. Thus, "couch expertise" may be put into practice. Let's see whom and how we will choose.
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How many ballots members of a precinct commission will give on the Election Day? Four. We will elect mayors, local councilors, and members of rain and oblast councils.
Settlement heads are the easiest. They are elected by a simple majority for the most part. Wins the one who receives the biggest number of votes. Even if a difference is one or two votes. Mayoral candidates in a city of more than 75,000 voters should be ready for two rounds of elections. If no one receives more than a half of the given votes at a polling station in the first round, two top candidates will compete in the second round.
Let's move on to members of local councils. This is where the difficulties begin. A part of candidates will be elected under the majority system we are already accustomed to, albeit in multi-member constituencies. Another part under the open-list proportional system. Settlements with under 10 thousand voters will continue to use the majority system. All the settlements above this number is already in the hands of parties. Only parties that receive more than 5% of votes will participate in the distribution of mandates.
Let's start with the smaller ones. In newly-formed communities that have up to 10 thousand voters everyone can stand for election: both representatives of parties, and independent candidates. The territory of a community is divided into election districts. In each district, people will elect from two to four councilors. This means that, for example, if there are three seats in a given district, then the three candidates who receive the largest number of votes in the district are elected to the local council. Such system is called a multi-member majority. Therefore, the number of districts should be three times less than the number of council members.
The open-list proportional system is much more fun. It was supposed to be used in oblast councils and cities with more than 90,000 voters. But the Verkhovna Rada lowered the threshold for proportional system to 10 thousand voters, significantly expanding the number of settlements where council members are elected under the proportional system. Only party representatives will be able to run here. However, is not necessarily a party member. Non-partisan individuals can run too, but they must be approved by the party at a conference or an election. So, what will an electoral list for the city, raion or oblast council look like? A party must approve a single electoral list. The number of candidates should not exceed the number of members at the corresponding council. Candidates from the single list, except for the first number, are included in territorial lists - one list for each election district. A candidate from a single list may be included in only one regional list. A territorial list can hold from 5 to 12 surnames. The gender quota has become mandatory - each five candidates must include at least two of the opposite sex.
The ballot we receive at polling station has a completely new form, containing the list of parties competing for seats at the corresponding council. A list of candidates nominated by the party is next to its name. In the voting booth you need to check the box of the party and enter the number of the candidate of your choice from its list. It is not necessary to vote for a candidate. However, open lists system will then turn into a regular party system will nice top five and bidding for good places for all the rest. It is important to add that a vote for a party and a specific candidate from it is counted as one vote.
"You may choose not to vote for the candidate, and your vote will still be valid. It will be counted as a vote for the party, but you will have no influence on which candidates from this party will receive seats, - Analyst from the Civil Network OPORA Oleksandr Neberykut explained. - That's why it is very important to choose a specific candidate from a party. There will be not one or two candidates, like in 2015, when the candidates were assigned to constituencies. The list will have from five to twelve candidates per each party. Thus is the list a voter may choose a candidate for himself. It is very important to vote not only for a party, but also for an individual candidate, and here's why. There are two ways voters can influence a party. The first way is to create a party yourself, run and win. This option is far from reality now, as we learned about the new system. It would be hard to make a party, undergo all the procedures and raise the rating in two month. Therefore, another way is to influence parties through voting, choosing not only a party but also a specific candidate."
By entering the number of the candidate, we increase his chances of receiving a seat. Not party leaders, but we. This is how the open-list proportional system works. For example, a party has seven candidates in the territorial list and the number of votes is receives allows to have four seats in a local council. These four seats would be expected to go to four candidates receiving the biggest number of votes. But they will not. To participate in the ranking of territorial list, a candidate must also overcome a twenty-five percent threshold of the election quota. This is necessary for a candidate to get a chance to compete for a higher place in the territorial list. This will be difficult to do, given that people will vote using this system for the first time. If candidates do not get the required number of votes, they will remain on the places they receive from a party.
"Electoral legislation cannot be changed in less than a year before the election. This is an established international practice, and it did not appear out of nowhere, - Oleksandr Neberykut tells. - The main reason is that candidates and parties simply will not have time to prepare well for the new game rules in less than a year. In fact, this is happening in Ukraine now. In December, when the first version of the Electoral Code was put to the vote, all candidates and parties understood that we are going to have one electoral system in oblast councils and cities with a population of over 90 thousand, and another multi-member majority system in all the other councils. However, everything has dramatically changed. Open-list proportional system was introduced in all local councils with over 10 thousand voters, and multi-mandate majoritarian in those having less. Accordingly, candidates and parties that were preparing for a different map of districts and different electoral system, invested resources, prepared networks for other elections, have got all their efforts wasted, and enter a totally different race. They are obviously out-of competition with those who influenced the change of game rules. First of all, we are talking about parliamentary parties, as they could at least assume that there could be a change in the rules. Therefore, parties that have decided to make changes treated their competitors unfairly. Therefore, this makes the election itself uncompetitive. It is also bad for the voters. Although there is still some time, it will be difficult for them to learn the election system well. This is the main problem associated with the change of election rules." - Neberykut summarized.
So, how a party will know after the election, how many members the faction will have, for example, in Kyiv City Council? This is the number of candidates who passed in each of the constituencies, plus the first number in the list and several candidates on a single list (based on the residual votes of territorial lists).
The Code forbids candidates to stand for all possible positions. Thus, a candidate can be nominated for two positions at one level - to a city council and for a mayor, or to councils of no more than two levels, for example, settlement and raion. Therefore, we will not see the same person in all four ballots. In two, at most.
I would like to mention separately about elections to raion councils. They will be held, although the decentralization reform did not include them at all. In other words, why do we need raion councils, if all powers have already been passed to communities? However, they are still there, because MPs of Ukraine simply did not have the time to amend the Constitution of Ukraine. Thus, if rain councils established by the Constitution, they cannot simply disappear, even if it is necessary to complete the reform. Although MPs said they will take away almost all powers and funds from raions, but there is often such a gap between words and deeds that we can expect anything.
Thus, we have learned whom and how we will choose. Now let's recall who will be able to vote. We already told in detail in one of the previous programs, who will finally be able to vote in local elections this year. These are the millions of people who are registered in one place and live in another. They could only vote at registration address before, but now it is possible to change the election address on a permanent basis by bringing an application to a State Voter Register maintenance body.
The election date is October 25. The rules are set, although changed four months before the vote. There will be more than enough people who want to participate in the elections. Now it's up to you, the voters, to change something or support the current local government. A polling station is definitely better than a sofa to do this.
The program "Elections Inside Out" was prepared with the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the USAID's Local Monitoring of Political Processes in Ukraine project. USAID's position may not coincide with the views expressed in the program.