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After the local elections – expect local elections (Ukraine)

August 29, 2015

On 25th October local elections will be held across Ukraine (other than in occupied Crimea and Kremlin controlled regions of the Donbas).

The thinking behind it, following a presidential election in May 2014, and a Rada election in October 2014, local elections in October 2015 will provide the Ukrainian constituency with the opportunity to have reset the political landscape from top to bottom in a post-Maidan Ukraine completely.

So be it.

Unfortunately despite a very good draft law gathering dust at the Rada, the October 2014 Rada elections were conducted under the then existing very flawed law.  Naturally the adoption of the far better draft law didn’t happen due to the fact it relied upon the Yanukovych era Rada passing that law in order for it to be in force for the current and sitting Rada.

What did happen, is that when the Rada election campaigning was in full flow, the president signed some amendments to the then existing law regarding electoral bribery and corruption – far too late to prevent bribery and corruption in the elections for the current Rada.

However, at the time, this blog noted “Indeed, one of the first laws that should probably be passed by a new RADA are the currently pending new election laws. It would give those laws 5 years, via numerous minor elections a chance to bed in, being amended to fine tune if necessary – in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, the new laws would be in force for any early RADA elections should a full 5 year term not be the fate of the RADA sworn in post 26th October.”

That did not happen either.

Thus electoral campaigning, officially or otherwise, is already underway for the local elections to be held on 25th October – despite candidates and party lists yet to be officially compiled and announced – under a substandard electoral law that has yet to be replaced by a far improved and entirely ignored draft law now almost 2 years old .

However, and it is never a good idea to change electoral laws with an impending ballot date, no election law changes are anticipated before voting day.  Instead, this time, on 31st August, the powers of those victorious in the elections will have changed via the “decentralisation amendments”.

That then, theoretically will see a full reset of political power until 2020 per the legal 5 year terms – unseemly and flawed as the journey may have been.

Except it appears not.

Yesterday President Poroshenko stated that following these local elections, yet more local elections will be held in two years time!

Why?  They are supposedly elected into office for 5 years.

Apparently – “Following the voting for the amendments to the Constitution, another local election will be held in two years after we form the regulatory framework for decentralization.  These local elections should be organized in fair and transparent fashion, as they form the international reputation and image of the whole state.

I ask you to elaborate amendments to the law that will make it impossible to bribe voters, and responsibility for the use of such schemes should be toughened. I am sure that candidates who buy votes should never take part in Ukrainian elections again.”

We are to infer from this that after 31st August sees the constitutional amendments relating to “decentralisation” strong-armed through the Rada, that those amendments will not fully take effect until two years later when a “regulatory framework for decentralisation” has been formed?

There is no regulatory framework already drafted?  The plan is to muddle through somehow trying to adhere to the newly amended constitution – or not?

Does a lack of preparation and framework planning by “the centre” legitimise or justify new early local elections?  If so should there not be new elections every time a major legislative or framework change occurs that effects “the system”?

Is it a nod toward the Donbas in 2 years time?  Perhaps a hopeful time frame?  Perhaps an indicator of a “special law” arriving to facilitate elections within the occupied territories “according to Ukrainian Law” to cover a 2 year period that allows for “direct negotiations”?

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Some cynics, considering that the October local elections may not give “the centre” the results they anticipated as outlined in yesterday’s entry, may think that there will be more or less permanent election cycles until “the centre” gets the results it likes (not that Ukraine can afford such frequent electoral luxuries).

We are also to infer from this that the very reasonable electoral draft law thus far ignored and gathering dust on a shelf somewhere in a dank office located just off a dimly lit corridor within the bowels of the Rada is to be ignored once more?

The preference being yet more amendments to a poorly crafted electoral law that currently sits within the statute books – the amendments aimed at making it  “impossible to bribe voters, and responsibility for the use of such schemes should be toughened. I am sure that candidates who buy votes should never take part in Ukrainian elections again.”

From this we can imply that voter bribery and corruption will occur at the October elections and be tacitly accepted because those amendments are yet to be drafted and passed?

But what of the amendments made mid-election campaigning for the Rada elections in 2014?  Weren’t they supposed to provide deterrence from engaging in electoral bribery and corruption?

What were the amendments made on the eve of the Rada elections in 2014?

“Thus it is now an offence for organisations, institutions, and enterprises to provide undue advantage, or the provision of free goods and services to voters for fear of imprisonment for 2 – 4 years, and/or depriving those responsible within from holding certain public office for a period of 1 – 3 years.

Those that would obstruct the execution of free universal suffrage (violating electoral rights), including the functioning of election commission personnel and observers, together with acts of bribery, fraud or coercion, now face a prison term of 2 – 3 years.

Abuse of office, including members of the election commission now carries a sentence of 3 – 7 years.

Also illegal instruction to an election official in order to effect or influence the election commission now carries a 5 – 10 year sentence, forgery of election documents 3 – 7 years, and theft or concealment of ballot boxes 5 – 7 years.

There is also some adjustment in the existing fines mechanisms.”

These are not sufficient penalties?  They do not deter those pondering electoral nefariousness?  There needs to be more amendments with a far sterner outcome which will mysteriously have far greater effect with regard to prevention?

Would it not be simpler, with the local election campaigning already underway, to actually enforce the aforementioned 19th/20th October 2014 amendments AND START THROWING PEOPLE IN JAIL!!!!

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