On March 18, 2022, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine suspended all activities of the following political parties in Ukraine during the martial law: "Opposition Platform - For Life", "Shariy Party", "Nashi", "Opposition Bloc", "Left Opposition", Union of Left Forces, Derzhava, the Progressive Socialist Party, the Socialist Party, the Party of Socialists, and Volodymyr Saldo Bloc. However, the suspension of parties or their subsequent ban or liquidation does not automatically lead to the termination of the powers of people's or local deputies elected by these parties in the last election. Also in this situation, local deputies cannot be recalled on the people's initiative. Thus, deputies from the parties whose activities have been suspended do not have formal obstacles to being in the factions of the same name and continuing their powers in the councils. 

Civil Network OPORA points out that the law does not clearly regulate the procedure for suspending the activities of political parties. However, under conditions of the legal regime of martial law, the National Security and Defense Council or another authorized body of public administration has legal grounds to temporarily restrict the activities of political parties or to raise the issue of their prohibition. The current wording of Part 2 of Article 5 of the Law of Ukraine "On Political Parties" provides for the prohibition of the activities of a political party only by a court decision. Based on the results of the decision of the National Security and Defense Council, the Ministry of Justice must go to court to ban political parties whose activities show signs of undermining state security and illegal seizure of state power; propaganda of war, and violence. 

The parties have not yet announced their clear intentions to appeal the decision of the National Security and Defense Council in court. Instead, there are already cases of voluntary termination of membership in the factions of these parties by deputies. Some parties are considering changing the name or terminating the similarly called factions in councils of various levels. In this situation, the possibility of similar decisions to suspend the activities of already renamed parties should not be ruled out. 

It is important to understand that under the martial law regime, all political parties are forced to be restricted in the exercise of some of their functions and legitimate interests (for example, holding mass or other public events). This imposes additional responsibilities on the authorities to clarify the requirements and objectives of the extension of regulations in order to ensure the principle of legal certainty. All political parties and public associations under martial law must clearly understand and anticipate both the political and legal consequences of their actions.

The law does not explicitly regulate the functioning of a parliamentary party faction if it is banned by court. According to the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada, the functioning of the parliamentary faction must be democratic and not contradict the requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine "On the Status of the People's Deputy of Ukraine" and the Rules of Procedure. Although the parliamentary faction is made up of deputies elected on the lists of the respective political party, it is an independent entity.

There is no ban on a political party among the grounds for terminating the activities of the Verkhovna Rada faction. Therefore, a faction can be dissolved only if its membership is less than the minimum number of deputies in the smallest faction formed during the first session.

The procedure for the functioning of deputy factions in local councils is regulated similarly. Deputies have the right to freely unite and withdraw from the parliamentary faction, but a specific procedure is established by the Regulations of local councils and determined by the factions (parties) themselves.

The suspension of the party's activities is also not a reason for the early termination of powers of local council deputies who are members of the factions of the same name. The powers of a local council deputy shall be terminated early if there are a number of formal grounds (termination of his Ukrainian citizenship, compatibility of positions, a court conviction, recognition of his legal incompetence by a court, etc.).

Among the grounds for initiating the procedure for recalling a local council deputy are two that can be considered in the context of the suspension or liquidation of a political party (Article 37 of the Law on the Status of Local Council Deputies):

  • violation of the provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine and laws of Ukraine by a deputy of a local council which was established by the court.
  • non-membership of a deputy elected in a multi-member constituency to the faction of the local organization of the party on whose electoral list he is elected, or termination of membership of a local council deputy in the faction.

Both procedures cannot be applied automatically in case of termination of the party's activity, as well as in the absence of a court-established violation of the law by a deputy or a voluntary decision of a local council deputy to terminate membership in a faction.

Read the full analysis by OPORA here