Ukraine Checks and Balances Election System
Kyiv, April 10, 2012. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine resolved that the right to run both for the party and single-member constituency seats, introduced by the new election law, contradicted the Constitution of Ukraine. This article of the law violates the key democratic principle of universal suffrage.
The Constitutional Court of Ukraine supported the plea of 51 MPs about the particular article of the election law contradicting the principle of the rule of law and preventing fair and equal elections. Cancellation of the article provides for the compliance with the principle of equal suffrage. The Constitutional Court of Ukraine had previously – in 1998 – ruled unconstitutional the right of candidates for the seat in the parliament to run both in party lists and single-member constituencies.
The principle of equal suffrage has been set by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.” Ukraine ratified the document in 1973.
According to the experts, allowing the candidates who seek the representative mandate in the parliament to run for both Party and Constituency seats lessens the advantages of the mixed electoral system. Once featured on top of the list of a popular political party, candidates feel more inclined to go on and participate in majority elections in districts as their place in the parliament is secured. This may result in charismatic party leaders featured on top of their party list being elected in constituencies. Concurrently, it will give the unknown political party members listed further on the list way to the parliament through proportional representation.
Once the simultaneous run is banned, voters may rest assured that they will be voting for the exact people listed on the party list, while those MPs who got their mandate through single-member constituencies will be accountable to their districts alone.
The new election law was passed by the Ukrainian parliament on November 17, 2011. It reintroduced the mixed electoral system in Ukraine. According to the new system, 225 members of the Ukrainian parliament will be elected through party lists and 225 MPs – through single-member districts. The upcoming parliament elections (October 28, 2012) will be held according to the newly introduced regulations.
Among other changes, the new law sets the election threshold of five percent. To date, the parliament has been elected through proportional vote with three percent threshold. Moreover, no blocks of political parties are allowed to participate in the elections according to the new law. It also stipulates the exclusion of the option of not supporting any party or candidate, previously available to Ukrainians.
Ukraine adopted a majority rule system after the declaration of its independence in 1991. It existed in the country until the introduction of the mixed electoral system in 1997. The Ukrainian parliament adopted a proportional electoral system in 2006 only to make new changes in five years.