Archive for July 13th, 2011

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Remember the Constitutional Assembly?

July 13, 2011

Remember the Constitutional Assembly as headed by ex-President Kravchuk set up earlier in the year?

Well, it is steadily ploughing through th Ukrainian Constitution, possibly aided by the Venice Commission, and possibly not. It is difficult to tell at what level they are having an input and to what degree.

Anyway, the upshot will be, once the Constitutional Assembly come to agreement on necessary Constitutional amendments, then agree them with the RADA and the the Presidential Administration, the plan is to put those amendments to a public referendum. – Quite rightly.

However, anybody who has waded through pages of legal amendments will tell you it is a particularly dry, oft boring and very occasionally difficult to understand the full consequences of any specific amendment.

Just look at the absolute mess in the UK over the referendum on AV system of electioneering verses first past the post. Admittedly AV is a nonsense half-way house between first past the post and proportional representation which was never likely to fly in a UK referendum anyway, but there were pages of explanation over this single issue.

If there are a dozen or two dozen minor and major changes identified, are they voted for individually in the referendum as line items for the public to pass or veto, or will it be a blanket pass or fail? Would the explanatory notes for each change when compiled into a public information pack have more pages than the entire volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica? How do you ensure each voter has had access to such a pack that insures they understand what they are voting for or against?

How can you present an unbiased explanation of what is likely to be many changes to the existing Constitution of Ukraine to the Ukrainian public in a fiercely politically polarised nation where the politicians remain unaccountable not only to the public but amongst themselves? Truth, half-truth and complete falsehood will be the order of the entire consultation period broadcast by various political bodies, to a public whose belief that their politicians serve only the politicians has been born out time and again. Yet the public must be consulted and vote on any amendments.

A very difficult issue to address if the changes are to be conveyed in a way that the public will clearly understand whilst keeping some form of semblance of reality about the affects any particular changes will have. It will be interesting to see how the political class manage to fully engage the public.

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