Archive for July 27th, 2016

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10 political parties adhere to the State funding requirements – Ukraine

July 27, 2016

There are some questionable issues relating to the current (and forever changing) electoral laws of Ukraine, particularly now when it comes to the introduction of State funding for electioneering.

The current laws for example, allocate State funding only for those parties that have passed the 5% threshold to enter the Verkhovna Rada under the proportional representation part of the (current) electoral system.

As such, those parties that are new, for example Khvylya, or are not such as the Civic Platform or Dem Alliance that gathered 2 or 3% in the last election, get nothing for their forthcoming electioneering campaigns from the State – despite the fact that two, or perhaps all three, will very likely pass the 5% threshold as a result of the next elections thus entering parliament via proportional representation (and not withstanding any single mandate victories).

As such new and/or small and/or developing parties are generally without, or hardly benefit from, oligarchy interest and sponsoring – ergo they are poor – and neither do they currently count among their ranks and friends unaffiliated media moguls that will donate large amounts of air time to their electoral campaigns for free/cheap – unlike most that will get State electioneering funding – it would appear to some a rather unfair situation.

That said, a line has to be drawn somewhere, lest this blog create a party with no hope of winning anything, simply to obtain State electoral funding and subsequently pocket most of it rather employ it for its intended and legitimate use.

That the law is extremely poor comes as no surprise.  Many laws in Ukraine are extremely poor.  Only on rare occasions does well written legislation pass through the Verkhovna Rada.

It also has to be said that the State electoral funding is not going to cover all electioneering costs for national campaigns – it is not even close to sufficient.  The system of funding currently works by providing the most popular parties via the proportional representation voting within a sitting parliament a Hryvnia value based upon the last electoral vote.

It follows that although the People’s Front is currently the most unpopular political party in the current parliament and is unlikely to pass the 5% threshold at the next elections (as of the time of writing), being the largest single party in the current parliament via the proportional representation part of the (current) electoral system, it therefore gets the most in State electioneering funding for the next election – closely followed by the President’s party – and funding works its way down the proportional representation voting percentages of the previous election accordingly.

To be fair, the $5 million or so that both People’s Front and the President’s party will get, gets nowhere near to covering the actual sums spent during their last electioneering campaigns.  No matter what the State funding will be for any party currently within the Verkhovna Rada, it will be significantly less than the financing of the previous election that put them there.

The (rhetorical in many cases) questions are therefore how these political parties are funded and by whom?

In order to qualify for the newly designed State electoral funding, aside from actually being a party that currently sits within the Verkhovna Rada having garnered more than 5% of the proportional vote in the last election, with effect from 1st July 2016, it is also required that quarterly reporting of party income and expenditure are submitted.

The first ever submissions are required to be submitted by 29th July.  (Needless to say that if a political party that qualifies for State funding but does not want said State electoral funding, there is no requirement to submit quarterly income and expenditure reports.)

As of 27th June, according to Natalia Korczak, head of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, 10 qualifying political parties have submitted the relevant quarterly reports to the NAPC.  (Those quarterly reports are then registered with the Ministry of Justice.)

Well bravo – prima facie a step in the right direction for political party transparency.

Unfortunately at the time of writing, which 10 political parties have submitted quarterly income and expenditure reports, and what those income and expenditure reports declare is unknown.  (In the meantime, parties like the Dem Alliance despite not qualifying for State election funding voluntarily publish their party funding on-line for public inspection and digestion.)

BK

Questions presents themselves however – whether the quarterly returns make it to the public domain or not.

Will these quarterly reports actually in any way relate to the real quarterly income and expenditure of any particular party.?  If “Party X” declares UAH 200 in expenditures for a service/function that clearly costs UAH 200,000 – is anybody formally tasked with verifying the expenditures?  If so what can or will they do about it?  The removal of a paltry sum in State electoral funding as punishment is hardly enough to correct their opaque and wicked ways.

How to check the validity (and integrity) of incoming donations?  Are they subject to scrutiny?  If so by whom, when, and under what circumstances?

What of those that simply decide not to pursue State electoral funding preferring to keep party incomes and expenditures from official scrutiny, or parties that simply do not qualify for State electoral funding but are subsequently elected to the national parliament?  No checks (meaningful or otherwise) upon party funding whatsoever in such circumstances?

When declared income and expenditure simply don’t add up to empirical evidence – as will assuredly be the case for most – and the inference is that there is a party “chornaya kassa” and/or secondary black book of dark magic funding, how then to pursue it – if it can be pursued at all?

Who will ultimately be held accountable for any fraudulent party quarterly submissions?  A random, anonymous and inconsequential minor party functionary who is clearly only submitting what they were given to submit?

With any fraudulent submission, there may exist the possibility of political accountability before the electorate – or not – but otherwise the returns will be deemed a collective responsibility, thus avoiding any of the party elite being individually held accountable (in any way).

It is a time honored custom within the wiser senior Ukrainian political ranks to have their decisions made (read agreed to) by “committee” with any subsequent official documentation signed off by lesser mortals.

It was a habit of Mr Yatseniuk, and it is the reason that Yuri Boiko (of Boiko towers infamy) is very unlikely to be successfully prosecuted by NABU.  All his nefarious decisions were made (read agreed to) by “committee” and generally signed off on official documentation by underlings.  Ergo collective responsibility and no personal accountability by way of signature.

All of this said, it would nevertheless be interesting to read and poke around within the smudged lines and erroneous figures submitted in the 10 submitted party quarterly income and expenditure statements.

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Zhittya – Rabinovych rebrands

July 27, 2016

In mid-May an entry appeared relating to the less than harmonious departure of Vadim Rabinovych and his “Centre Party” which formed part of, and exited the Oppo Block Party.  Indeed to say it was less than harmonious is to be charitable, with Mr Rabinovych and Mykola Skoryk trading very public, barbed and acrimonious statements.

The “Centre Party” is now no more.  It was renamed and re-branded on 26th July.  It is now called Zhittya (meaning Life in Ukrainian).

The “new” (renamed) political entity will pursue a platform of a neutral Ukraine with pragmatic relations with its neighbours, focusing upon transforming the national economy to one led by agriculture, IT/Hi-Tech, and banking – which is very much the transitional economic trajectory Ukraine is already on.  Ergo no change in the priorities for economic and market development.

The usual declarations of a serious fight against corruption, the defence of human rights, and a splash of populism regarding “extortionate rates” are needless to say also part of the party manifesto and rhetoric.

The party will also court the SME and entrepreneurial votes that are definitely the target demographic of the Dem Alliance and Khvylya too.  It will be a very congested contest for this demographic it seems, and despite the fact that Mr Rabinovich is a sly, prickly, entertaining, certainly not stupid, long-standing politician, it is somewhat questionable as to whether he will gather significant traction within his target voter base.

rabinovich

He is wealthy, but not wealthy enough to finance and promote a new/re-branded political party.  Thus this is either a particularly brave political move, which is doubtful for a politician as long in the tooth as he, or a backer for the Zhittya Party has been secured with sufficient money and influence to promote the party in a forthcoming election that will feature several new and/or invigorated parties.

Mr Rabinovych has already been joined by another (until 3rd June when he left) Oppo Block faction parliamentarian, Evgen Muraev, owner of NewsOne media, who arrived in parliament as an independent.  However, even together it seems unlikely they can fund an effective political campaign without further backing from somewhere, or somebody (probably from behind the curtain).

How many parliamentarians are Zhittya expecting/hoping to have elected when the next elections arrive?  Which seats will it contest, for it is unlikely to pass the 5% proportional representation threshold if standing and financing entirely unsupported by “others”.

If reduced to single seat mandates its electoral successes will be very limited indeed even if its energy draws several frustrated Oppo Block parliamentarians to it who are tired of doing very little in the comatose ranks of the Oppo Block.

Whatever the case its chances of implementing any of its declared political manifesto are naturally zero if alone, and extremely limited as part of a larger vehicle unless there is policy overlap.

Therefore, to which political faction would it gravitate and join?  Will it return to the Oppo Block Party fold as a constituent part despite a fairly fractious recent history – or the more encompassing yet looser association of the Oppo Block faction  – or will Mr Rabinovych head away from his traditional “Regionaires” comfort zone?

Numerous ex-regionaires  feature in Nash Krai.  They also do within Block Poroshenko.  Potential political faction resting places perhaps?  Nash Krai would seem the most obvious alternative to the Oppo Block, but would they want Zhittya and Mr Rabinovych even if he wanted them?

Maybe the issue has already been sorted out prior to the re-branding and it will be from these unknown quarters that sufficient electoral funds and backing will come – with faction membership following thereafter.

Whatever the case, it is always rather fun, albeit occasionally a distasteful experience,  to follow the exploits of Mr Rabinovych – perhaps more so now he will wish to give Zhittya a bit of a PR lift post re-branding.

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