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IFES Ukraine

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems

Parliament to vote on President’s petition to dismiss the CEC

As early as today, the Parliament of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, will vote on a draft resolution to dismiss all members of the Central Election Commission based on a petition of the President of Ukraine.

Yesterday, September 11, the parliamentary committee on state power, local self-government and local and urban development supported the petition of the President to dismiss the Central Election Commission (CEC) and passed a draft resolution to the floor to put this up to vote on Thursday. The draft resolution was supported by 16 votes, with two voting against and seven abstaining.

CEC Chairwoman Slipachuk appeared at the committee meeting, stating that the CEC pursues a neutral position in its work, treating all players equally and acting strictly within its mandate and the law. Unfortunately, she said, the poor legal framework does not sufficiently regulate certain issues, including the interaction between the election administration and courts, and on several issues ties the hands of the CEC. She reminded them that the CEC has conducted two nationwide elections over the past year, which were praised by international and domestic observers, and that the Ukrainians now display significantly more trust in elections and the election administration than a year ago. She regretted that the President’s petition quoted selectively from the court decisions it referenced and announced intentions to issue a statement on the CEC’s position Wednesday evening.

The petition explained the motivations behind his move, claiming that the CEC during the recent early parliamentary elections “multiple times displayed insufficient prudence or even political bias in its decision-making” as testified by court decisions that have declared its decisions, actions or inactivity illegal. The petition holds that the CEC allowed double standards and non-uniform practice during the establishment of results in single member districts – pointing especially to its “extremely surprising and unprecedented decision” to announce the result of single-member district no. 198 “before the conclusion of ongoing court proceedings.”

Civil Network OPORA and Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) both issued statements in support of the CEC. In a detailed analysis of all cases mentioned in the President’s petition, Civil Network OPORA identified flaws in the legal framework and the court practice rather than bias on the side of CEC as the root cause of these problems: “…a general review of the claims against the CEC action… did not lead to the violation of the electoral rights of citizens, but flaws in the application of the legal framework… must be corrected by the parliament in the near future.” The CVU statement said that “there are no objective reasons for dismissing the CEC”. CVU noted shortcomings in the court practice in election matters and urged the CEC, parliament, courts and other government institutions to jointly work on a full-fledged reform of the election legislation.

The draft resolution of the Rada will require 300 votes to pass. Apparently Holos, Batkivschyna and European Solidarity are against or will abstain. Opposition Platform for Life’s position may be decisive: in a Facebook posting following the committee meeting, faction leader Boyko said he will not support what he deemed “another step towards usurping power, and this is a step in the wrong direction.” The position of independents is equally unknown.