On July 15, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine adopted the Resolution scheduling regular 2020 local elections by 326 votes. The Parliament has exercised its constitutional authority to call regular local elections and provided legal certainty in the organization and conduct of the election campaign.
The Resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine provides:
- Scheduling the regular elections to local councils, city, village and settlement heads on 25 October 2020. MPs have created conditions for not holding regular elections in communities where the CEC will call the first local elections no later than 70 days before election day.
The final decision of the Parliament on calling elections applies to all local councils without exception, including raion councils.
After extensive political and public debates, the Parliament decided to call regular local elections to all local councils, in line with the Constitution of Ukraine. At the same time, the Parliament provided an option of not holding regular local elections if the first local elections are scheduled in the corresponding communities or at the level of raion councils (if old raions are substituted with new ones).
The previous version of the draft resolution, which was discussed by the competent committee, called only elections to oblast councils, Kyiv City Council, the mayor and district councils of the capital. Initiators of the draft resolution initially assumed that in case old raions are liquidated and new are formed, the first local elections to the corresponding local self-government bodies will be appointed by the CEC once the Government approves community boundaries.
OPORA welcomes the broad parliamentary consensus on the decision to call the next local elections in 2020, which has no signs of breaking the Constitution. It's an important preparatory stage of local campaign in Ukraine, that the regular local elections are scheduled on time and there is a legal certainty about their date. However, we believe that calling the next local elections without a final decision on the formation of new raions is not good for the stability of preparation to the local campaign and was accompanied by significant social and political tensions.
- Failure to hold elections to Donetsk and Luhansk oblast councils due to the impossibility to represent the common interests of local communities in the conditions of temporary occupation of a large part of their territory.
Taking into consideration the temporary occupation of a large part of territories in Donetsk and Luhansk oblast councils, the Parliament decided not to hold elections to oblast councils in these regions. According to Article 140 of the Constitution of Ukraine, raion and oblast councils are local self-government bodies representing the common interests of territorial communities of villages, settlements and cities. Since the certain cities and raions of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts are temporarily occupied, it's impossible to guarantee the representation of common interests of territorial communities in these two oblasts. As a result of holding elections to oblast councils without taking into account the temporarily occupied territories, voting rights of a large number of residents of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast as well as their right for local self-government could have been violated. Thus, the Parliament's decision not to call the elections to Donetsk and Luhansk oblast councils is reasonable and well-considered.
OPORA calls on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the Government and the CEC to ensure the quality of the election process in the state-controlled territorial communities of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, ensuring the right of citizens to local self-government. The resolution passed by the Parliament allows holding elections in the entire state-controlled territory of these two oblasts, except for settlements, which were addressed in petitions on the impossibility of holding the vote, submitted to the military-civil administrations (MCAs). Given the lack of clear requirements in the current legislation for such submissions, OPORA calls on the MCAs of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts to ensure a politically impartial decision-making process on the impossibility of holding elections in individual communities.
- Recognizing the impossibility of holding elections to the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local elections on all temporarily occupied territories, defined by the Decree of the President of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine.
The Parliament of Ukraine decided not to appoint and hold regular local elections in temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Local elections in these communities may be held on the basis of the corresponding laws and given the temporary occupation and armed aggression of Russia is stopped, all illegal armed groups are removed from the Crimea and separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblast and security of citizens is guaranteed. Besides that, MPs of Ukraine have introduced a requirement that local elections can be held after the demilitarization, disarmament and reintegration are completed in line with UN and OSCE standards. These provisions of the Parliament's Resolution correspond to the current situation on temporarily occupied territories and did not cause significant controversy during the parliamentary debate.
The Parliament of Ukraine also instructs the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine together with the CEC to develop measures and recommendations against the spread of COVID-19 during the organization and conduct of the vote, as well as to provide the necessary financing. Thinking about the circumstances of an election during the pandemic and taking preparatory measures is essential and should be properly funded by the state.
OPORA calls on the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine to immediately decide on the liquidation and formation of rations to ensure the stability and predictability of the preparation to the election campaign for the state and electoral subjects.
In addition, we draw the attention of MPs to the need to strictly comply with legislative requirements regarding the openness of the Parliament and its committees. Poor informing about the meeting of the Committee on the Organization of State Power, Regional Development, Local Self-Government and Urban Planning on 14 July 2020 and the lack of streaming of its meeting did not increase public confidence in parliamentary activities.