Asylum, Schengen and proportional representation

May 18, 2013

Now here is an interesting little story – somewhat comical to a degree – which leads nicely into Ukrainian voting systems.

Andriy Shkil, a former Batkivshchnya (BYuT) MP of the previous parliament, has been refused asylum by the Czech Republic, a nation well known for granting asylum via the historical legacy of Vaclav Havel who rarely turned an application down.

Why did the Czech Republic refuse his application for asylum?

The answer lays within the Schengen Visa system.

Although free to travel anywhere within the Schengen area once a Ukrainian has a Schengen Visa, they have to enter and egress the Schengen zone via the specific nation that granted the Visa.  If Poland granted the Visa, a Ukrainian who wanted to visit Italy for example, would have to travel there and back via Poland.

Personally I don’t know a Ukrainian who isn’t aware of the rules – although undoubtedly there will be some.

Logic would dictate, following on from such basic rules, that if an individual is going to claim asylum somewhere within the EU, that also will necessarily need to occur in the nation that issued the Visa, rather than seeking asylum in any EU nation an individual may take a fancy to.  Ultimately, a nation issuing a Schengen Visa must have some responsibility for their decision to grant – or not – an individual entry, for it is their decision and not that of any other Schengen area state who may well have made a different decision.

And so, in a way, it is rather comical that a one-time parliamentarian – an individual supposedly bright enough to have been trusted in creating and supporting – or not – Ukrainian legislature, has tried to claim asylum in the Czech Republic on a Schengen Visa issued by France.

Naturally, had Mr Shkil been reelected to the current parliament, he would not be seeking asylum anywhere but enjoying the immunity and impunity being an MP brings – and the fact he is not in parliament today it is not because he was beaten in any constituency seat, but rather due to his very lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list when it comes to proportional representation.

The Ukrainian electoral system is a mixed electoral system where 50% of MPs are those who take office through what is officially called Single Member District Plurality (or First Past The Post as most would recognise it), and 50% of MP seats are in parliament due to how high they are placed on their party list vis a vis the percentage of the vote their party gets.

Naturally all the top places on party lists go to the leaders to insure their place in parliament without having to go through the rigors of actually standing against another in the first past the post system in a constituency seat – as they may lose and that would never do!

Placed at 87 on the Batkivshchyna Party list, either Mr Shkil was not willing to pay enough to those who make the party lists to be placed higher, or he was such a poor performer during his tenure that his placing was deliberately done to insure he would not return to parliament.  Given the high number of poor performers on most party lists, he was either simply out bid or truly useless beyond comprehension.

Anybody on party lists lower than position 50 are in a precarious position and are certainly not assured of representing a party in parliament.  87th on a party list is a clear signal you will not get your nose in the RADA trough.

Even if we look at the ways of manipulating the proportional representation part of the vote, 87th place would simply not have been high enough to reasonably expect a return to the RADA.

If we look at the independent form of mixed electoral systems, then the 50% of first past the post seats run completely separately and in parallel to the proportional representation 50%.  This system can lead, for example, to a party winning all the constituency seats and then half of the 50% of seats allocated by proportional representation – thus giving a party 75% of the parliamentary seats.

Alternatively there is the dependent mixed electoral system, whereby proportional representation places parameters on the system, thus is therefore somewhat dominant over first past the post.  For example if a party wins 40% of the national vote, then their party members who win their seats through the first past the post constituency elections take their seats, followed by a remainder from the party list until it reaches the 40% of the popular vote it won.

Yes there are occasions under the dependent system whereby a party may win more seats in the first past the post constituency seat elections, than it should hold under its share of the proportional vote count.  Should that be the case, these “overhanging” seats in excess of the proportional vote are honoured and the parliament extends to accommodate the additional MPs for that session – whilst everybody else is represented by their proportional share of the vote.

None of this would have helped Mr Shkil at such a lowly place on the Batkivshchnya Party list – and neither would manipulating the size of voting districts – as Ukraine, for the purposes of its proportional representation, is seen as one big district rather than allocations on a proportional basis by Oblast (county) level.

Quite simply, the smaller the district, the smaller the number of proportional seats available, and thus the higher the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat.  The larger the district, the more proportional seats available, the lower the percentage of the vote needed to win a seat – not rocket science (albeit political science summed up by the formula X  1/(X+1)).

Anyway, enough of that academic waffle – Mr Shkil is now in France duly seeking asylum there.  The question is, will France grant it given that it is not normally that accommodating compared to the Czech Republic – a nation that was obviously Mr Shkil’s first choice when submitting his asylum application.


  1. It’s not just that the party lists are corrupt.

    It’s the party list system that is totally corrupt.

    I would hope that change in the system would not have to wait until the Kuchma generation is gotten rid of permanently, and that is would come sooner rather than later.

    But, unfortunately, you may be right – except that if the Bolshevik Regionnaires and Vadim Kolesnichenko and Olena the Clucking Hen Bondarenko and Victor Medvedchuk get their way, we may once gain be looking at some sort of reincarnation of the nightmare that was the sovok union.

  2. Re: poor performers and highly placed party leaders

    One wonders how it is that lardbutt brainless convict the “president” yanusovloch’s son, a worthless turd, is in the Parliament on the Boshevik Regionnaires ticket.

    If you’ve ever seen him in interviews, the little shyte has absolutely no clue about where he is or why he is there.

    And again – Pshonka, the fat bag-of-dough white haired Prosecutor General of Zookraine, also stuck his son in the Rada – again on the Boshevik Regionnaire ticket.

    Oh, and let’s not forget Ms. Lyovochkin, who has family connections to her brother, again on the Bolshevik Regionnaire ticket.

    If you are referring to “poor performance” by Mr. Shkil in the Rada, the sewer that passes for a parliament in Zookraine, which has been controlled by the Bolshevik Regionnaires and the commies, you are way off base.

    Although I do take your point about seats being bought in the zRada.

    • I do not wonder at all over the PoR party list any more than I do any other party list. Party lists always, in any nation, insure the leaders and favourites are positioned high enough to guarantee their continued political lives, often regardless of actual ability.

      However I do not think I am way off base over Mr Shkil as you state, for I am not the person who responsible for drawing up the Batkivshchnya Party list. Therefore it is they – and not I – who positioned him so low on their list that he would never get reelected – thus he was either useless to them as a politician, or unwilling/unable to pay enough to be placed higher – the latter scenario being a damning indictment to the internal democratic workings of Batkivshchnya.

      As the positioning on the Batkivshchnya party list is purely a matter for the Batkivshchyna leadership, his lowly position on their list is due to one or the other reasons mentioned above. He is either useless or the Batkivshchnya party is corrupt to its core. Which is it?

      • Look, again, I take your point about seats being bought and sold in the zRada.

        The party list system is rotten to the core, as you note.

        Shkil may have been useless to Batkvshchyna – but he is highly intelligent and highly articulate.

        In Zookraine, the Bolshevik Regionnaires are terrifed both of a majoritarian system and a party list system precisely because of what happened in the last elections – they were soundly defeated to the point where they could no longer muster their usual sovok mafia majority by themselves.

        There was also fear of the single candidate majoritarian system, as happens in civilized countries, in Zookraine based on allegations that “the seats would be bought.”

        Poroshenko got into the zRada based on a single-candidate majority system. So did others.

        But in other districts, the votes were literally stolen, and “courts” upheld the theft.

        And re-votes that were supposed to take place still have not occurred.

        I’m not sure why you’re picking on Shkil.

        The whole voting system and court system in Zookraine is a sick, sick, disgusting toilet/sewer.

      • I am not picking on Shkil. He was in the news and his 87th position on the Batkivshchnya list was a good reason to examine the Ukrainian electoral system and the reasons why he was so low.

        I put forward the only two options as to why he would be so low on the party list. That party list happened to be the Batkivshchnya list as that was the party he was in.

        The answer that all party lists of the major parties in Ukraine are corrupt to the core was the conclusion I suspect most readers came to – but one I left for them to ponder rather than for me to assert on their behalf – thus illustrating that the Batkivshchyna list is as corrupt as the Party Regions list, Communist List etc. Even the UDAR list, whilst that may not have been corrupt this time, is full of known corrupt politicians whose allegiance has been with other parties previously – some people I know personally amongst them.

        As for majoritarian (first past the post) verses proportional representation (either dependent or independent) there are issues with both.

        It can be successfully argued that the 100% majoritarian method as used in the UK is not representational of the electorate due to shenanigans with constituency borders etc just as it can be argued that the 100% proportional representation system employed by The Netherlands may be the most inclusive but also leads all to often to gridlock due to so many relevant political parties in parliament preventing the smooth functioning of the parliament.

        Such is the paradox of 100% PR systems.

        The mixed system Ukraine now uses mirrors that of Germany – and the German system was set up to insure that there could be no return to the dominant party politics of Hitler via the ballot box.

        If Regions wanted to fix the vote in a “recognised” and above-board voting system, then the “block party” voting system would be the on they would force through – it works in several countries including Singapore.

        Alternatively they could simply make the proportional representation voting districts and seats within a smaller constituency, thus forcing up the percentage needed to win a seat and make it almost impossible for UDAR and Svoboda to have the same proportional representation they get from a single national constituency.

        The math would dictate that making the constituencies smaller (rather than a single national constituency), UDAR and Svoboda would suffer whilst Regions and Batkivshchnya would gain.

        However the current system is what the current system is – and we unfortunately have to note that the current electoral laws were supported by a fair amount of Batkivshchyna MPs including notable ones such as Turchynov when it passed into law.

        It was undoubtedly supported by Batkivshchyna because of the 5% threshold which forced smaller oppositions to join Batkivshchyna or die a political death by not reaching that electoral threshold.

        Thus the electoral system now complained about was supported by Batkivshchyna for self-serving cynical reasons – which makes having any sympathy rather difficult – particularly so when we consider that when in power it did nothing whatsoever to expand and consolidate the independence of the state institutions required to enforce a level playing field.

        Anyway, until the Kuchma generation that includes Yanukovych, Tymoshenko are all retired from public life permanently, there is little hope for any real change in the system regardless of who is in power.

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