Ukraine’s parliament appoints 17 new members of the Central Election Commission
October 4, 2019. Today, the Parliament of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada, voted to appoint all members of the Central Election Commission (CEC) based on a petition from the President. All 17 candidacies were voted on one by one and supported by all the factions. They were voted in to replace the Commission that was dismissed previously on September 13.
Before the vote, the deputy leader of the Batkivshchyna faction, Ivan Krul’ko, supported the renewal and called for the institution to be a purely technical and not a political body that administrates the elections. Roman Lozynksyi from Holos faction noted that Holos voted against terminating the previous CEC. He also supported the notion of a professional CEC and not the one formed on a political basis. Oleksandr Kachura of Servant of the People (SoP) stated that the need for a proper electoral legal framework for the CEC has become even more evident, so that there is a clear guidance for the institution. Iryna Herashchenko of European Solidarity thanked the previous CEC for administering excellent elections; elections that were highly rated by international observers. She also stated that early termination of the previous CEC was purely political.
On October 3, 2019, President Zelenskyi submitted to the Rada a slate of 17 candidates to be appointed as CEC commissioners. One day earlier, the SoP faction had submitted a slate of 18 nominees for the 17 vacant seats on the CEC to the President of Ukraine. Out of the 18 nominees suggested by the SoP, 12 are on the President’s slate of 17 that was voted on today; SoP’s approved slate of 12 also includes four members of the previous CEC, namely four commissioners: Andrii Yevstigneiev, Iryna Yefremova, Oleh Didenko, and Vitaliy Plukar. Andriy Yevstigneiev, while having been formally suggested by SoP, is de facto affiliated with Batkivshchyna. Earlier, Batkivshchyna voted for dissolution of the CEC with SoP and other party factions, except for Holos and European Solidarity.
In between September 13-17, other party factions in the Rada also nominated candidates for the CEC, and some of them were included on the President’s slate:
- Opposition Platform “For Life” nominated Yuriy Miroshnychenko and Serhii Dubovyk — current Deputy Head of the CEC Secretariat who also served as a CEC commissioner in the past (both included);
- European Solidarity nominated Oleksandr Chernenko and Yurii Buglak (Buglak is included);
- Holos Party nominated Andriy Hevko (included); and
- Batkivshchyna nominated Zhanna Usenko-Chorna, Victoria Hlushchenko (Hlushchenko is included).
The “For the Future” parliamentary group is the only political force in parliament that will not be represented in the renewed CEC. This group has never proposed any candidates for CEC to the president.
The names on the president’s slate suggests that the CEC would be entirely dominated by SoP as they would have at least 11 out of 17 seats on the Commission. Under the Law on Central Election Commission, any decision of the CEC, including election of the Chair, Deputy Chair and Secretary of the Commission needs at least 9 votes in support to be adopted. It is possible that the entire leadership of the renewed Commission could be elected from the ranks of the SoP nominees.
Civil Network OPORA has launched a resource (in Ukrainian) with detailed biographies of all the current nominees from all the factions. Most of the nominees have a legal background, while some of them have election-related experience (including four members of the previous CEC proposed by the Servant of the People, candidates put forward by Batkivshchyna, the Opposition Bloc and Holos). The share of women on the new CEC would be lower compared at 5 in 17 which or 29.4% compared to 50% previously.
Once the new commissioners take their oath and assume office, they will hold the first meeting of the Commission, over the course of which the new leadership of the Commission is elected.
IFES welcomes the new CEC. IFES hopes that the renewed CEC will build on the tremendous progress made by the previous CEC in strengthening elections in Ukraine. IFES also hopes that the renewed CEC will demonstrate independence, transparency, inclusiveness and willingness to implement the needed internal structural and operational reforms which have not been fully implemented by the previous CEC due to the time constraints and two nationwide electoral events in 2019. IFES stands ready to provide the new CEC with technical assistance and support at this critical juncture for democratic progress in Ukraine.