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Ukraine - Joint Council of Europe - OSCE/ODIHR opinion: Trust in fairness of electoral rules essential for democratic elections

19/10/2011

Strasbourg – During its plenary session last week (14-15,10,2011), the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters – better known as the Venice Commission - adopted a joint OSCE/ODIHR opinion on the draft Law of Ukraine on Election of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine.

The opinion points out that the electoral system chosen in the draft law matches neither the one discussed by the Venice Commission representatives during their meetings with the Ukrainian authorities nor the one recommended by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in its Resolution 1755 (2010). In addition, the choice of the mixed system – raising of the threshold for gaining mandates from 3% to 5% and banning electoral blocs – all changes were made by the majority unilaterally and without consultations with the representatives of the other political parties and civil society. These different changes do not facilitate the access of different political forces to parliament.

The Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR reiterate that trust in the fairness of the electoral rules is essential for conducting democratic elections.

Although the draft law incorporates a number of previous recommendations of both OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission, several recommendations remain unaddressed.

OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission welcome the decision of the President of Ukraine not to introduce the draft law himself but rather to send it to the Verkhovna Rada so that different political factions can discuss and finalise this draft. This step could ensure a discussion open to all political forces. Moreover, this process should also involve civil society and thus help to build the trust of the Ukrainian society in the electoral process.

OSCE/ODIHR and the Venice Commission stand ready to assist the authorities, notably the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in their efforts to create a legal framework for democratic elections in conformity with OSCE commitments, Council of Europe and other international standards for democratic elections.
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