Changing the rules of the electoral game……..

February 6, 2010

Well dear readers, I know you will have been expecting me to comment on the election rule changes signed into law by soon to be ex-President Yushenko.

Well, to be honest, I thought I would wait to see if he did it and what would happen…..other than Ms Tymishenko calling “foul” as it goes against her best interests……or so she is claiming quite loudly.

What’s it all about?

The legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada was submitted on the 27th of January and was meant to fix a deficiency in the current election law regarding the organization and operations of the District Election Commissions (DECs) and Precinct Election Commissions (PECs).

Under the then current law there is a 2/3 quorum requirement for the PECs and DECs to function, including opening the polls on election day and counting the ballots.

In the Second Round of a Presidential election, each of the two candidates proposes 50% of the members of the DECs and PECs.  This allows one of the parties to undermine the process by denying a quorum.  The Second Round of the Presidential election is the only election where this is possible because in all other elections the composition of the committees is made up of representatives of all participating parties or candidates.   No party in these other elections is in a position, by itself, to deny a quorum.

The then current election law does not provide for situations where one party’s representatives do not appear at designated times to open the polls or count the ballots.  In these situations, the PECs are can be viewed to be technically prohibited from opening the polls or counting the ballots for lack of a quorum.

Now whilst it is quite typical of Ukrainian politics to change the rules mid-game……one has to ask how this has been achieved by the opposition party and not the one currently in power.

The answer is, considering the ousting of long time Tymoshenko ally Luzenko from the position of Interior Minister, she has lost control of the RADA.

This change in the election law has now lost her control of the Central Election Committee as well.

The winner in Ukraine, as I have said before, would be the one which controlled Interior Ministry and CEC……regardless of the vote count if it was within 5% either way…….and now it appears that both have fallen into the hands of Party of Regions and Mr Yanukovych despite being in opposition……and quite legally as well.

Tymoshenko has been quite clearly out manouvered and Yanukovych who has gained control of the CEC, RADA and the courts which matter in this presidential election, despite being in opposition rather than ruling government.

I cannot see her regaining the initiative with the vote tomorrow.

Does this so adversely effect her chances in what was hailed by Europe as an example to other Eastern European States as a demcoracy to imitated.?……As I wrote at the time of their statements, the fat lady was yet to sing. 

What does the international community make of the changes midway through an election?

Jens-Hagen Eschenbaecher, a spokesman for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s election monitoring body, pointed out that the amendments won’t affect the outcome of the vote if both camps act in good faith, as they did in the first round of voting Jan. 17.

Of course, that is the most deluded statement made so far regarding these elections both internally and externally of Ukraine.  The first round was guaranteed as to who would get through……since then there has not been a single act of good faith from either party, because this was the serious bit after the first round circus so heavily hailed by the EU as a success. 

The first round of voting was a success because there was only going to be one outcome.  If that outcome had ever been in doubt then it would not have played out as it did……anyone with a brain and even limited exposure to Ukraine would know that.

It is not quite game, set and match Yanukovych yet……but he certainly now holds several championship points.

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