Although not explicitly required by the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors, the legislation is nonetheless a key component of Kyiv’s plan to decentralize government by delegating more power and functions to regional and local governments.

However, the bill also specifies that the elections, which are scheduled for Oct. 25, won’t take place in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, or in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

In addition, under the second Minsk peace agreement, Ukraine was expected to strengthen locally elected bodies and make election procedures more transparent. It is also publicly seen as a chance to sweep away more discredited local elites installed during Viktor Yanukovych’s presidency.

Parliament failed, however, to create open-list voting for parties, which could also have contributed to filtering out discredited politicians.


Instead, single-mandate districts were created for regional and city councils, which require voting for an individual candidate belonging to a party, according to an emailed Concorde Capital note on July 15. “But if the candidate’s party fails to pass the voting threshold in a given election district (or region), the candidate can’t take office, regardless if he or she has won the most votes,” the investment bank wrote.

Furthermore, local candidates need approval from their respective party’s central leadership, and parties will have the power to recall elected members of local bodies at their discretion, said political expert Vitaliy Kulyk of the Center for Civic Society Studies.

However, a full version of the bill hasn’t been published yet, which has led to uncertainty over the new procedures.

“This will amount to sham elections, benefiting the incumbents,” Kulyk said.

Andriy Parubiy, the deputy speaker of parliament, disagreed, describing the election law as a “huge step forward, although it’s not perfect.”

“Now, the voters will decide which candidates get elected. This, in turn, wreaks havoc on corruption,” he said.


Still, Andriy Magera, the deputy head of the Central Election Commission, was critical of the law.

“Voters can only choose one candidate from each political party, in other words vote for or against him … There is no choice. There is no list of, for example, 10 candidates among whom the voter can choose. Instead, we have … notions aimed at discrediting a progressive proportional representation system with open lists,” Magera told the 112 Ukraina channel.

A ballot for a local election in Russia with only one option for each party, and displaying candidate names. The ballots for city and oblast elections in the upcoming October elections in Ukraine are expected to resemble the Russian ones allowing voting only by party. (Courtesy)

The Bloc of Petro Poroshenko faction in parliament confirmed on July 15 that ballots would have a check box for each party, rather than individual candidates.

“The ballot and (voting) procedure will be simple and understandable to each voter. Neither the length of the ballot nor the procedure for drafting a protocol by electoral commissions will change,” the party bloc’s statement read.


Among other stipulations in the law is that parties are required to ensure that at least 30 percent of their candidates are female.

But the new law doesn’t address voting procedures for refugees. Election watchdog groups are now drafting a separate bill to give internally displaced people the right to vote in the October elections.

Kyiv Post’s legal affairs reporter Mariana Antonovych can be reached at [email protected]
Kyiv post staff writer Johannes Wamberg Andersen can be reached at [email protected]

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