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Why 23% of Votes Were Ignored in the Elections?


Roman Marchenko, Attorney at Law, Senior Partner at Ilyashev & Partners Law Firm
Source: The RBC 

According to the early parliamentary elections in October 2014, 6 political forces were elected to the Verkhovna Rada from party lists. Thereto, 22 other parties lost the election.

MarchenkoThe effective law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” sets forth that half of the deputies are elected on the basis of proportional system. Thereto, deputy seats are allocated between the parties, which electoral lists according to the voting results received at least five per cent of total votes.

In this election we witnessed a bitter struggle of political parties for the “cherished” five percent. However, e.g. “Svoboda” obtained 4.71% of votes, 3.87% voted for the Communists. Such distribution of votes means that on the national scale more than three and a half million (!) of citizens voted for the political forces that did not clear the 5% barrier. It means that votes of almost 23 per cent of voters will not actually be taken into account when forming the new composition of the Verkhovna Rada. Their votes will be distributed proportionally among the parties that overcame the 5% barrier. These parties will implement the program ideas that do not meet the views of millions of voting Ukrainians, and sometimes contradict them.

In such circumstances, the 5% entry barrier in the political system of Ukraine can be hardly interpreted as a manifestation of democracy. After all, democracy is a form of state, which is based on government by the people by ensuring the rights of citizens to participate in the formation and functioning of political power.

One of the fundamental principles of democracy is political pluralism. It provides the same attitude of the state to manifestation of will of both the majority and the minority. This principle, in particular, is manifested in the possibility of political minorities to be represented in various government agencies, including in the parliament. It is essential that the minority’s rights cannot be canceled by votes of the majority.

However, we have a situation where the state constitutionally proclaims democratic principles, but legislatively introduces a high entrance barrier, and, thus, actually devalues the role of citizens in government of the country, and, furthermore, deprives them of their rights granted by the international instruments and the Constitution of Ukraine.

Therefore, e.g. in the last election the right of three and a half million voters in general, and the right of each citizen in particular to participate in public affairs through freely chosen representatives had not been exercised, and moreover – was violated. It is the 5% barrier that distorts the proportional representation (and, incidentally, degrades the role of Parliament as a part of representative democracy in Ukraine).

Some years ago, deputies Stretovych and Marushchenko introduced a draft law envisaging inter alia lowering the threshold to enter the Rada to 1%. The draft law was substantiated as follows: “The proposed reduction of the electoral threshold … will also contribute to better correspondence of the composition of parliament to the will of the voters”. However, is it true “to contribute to better correspondence”? May be the Law shall be stated so that the composition of the elected representatives is fully consistent with the will of the people?

In my opinion, the decision on the introduction of a certain income tax – increase, decrease, or leaving at the current level – must strictly comply with the Constitution. Even 1% electoral threshold will be undemocratic and mean violation of the voters’ constitutional rights due to the following. According to the Constitution of Ukraine, constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is four hundred and fifty people’s deputies of Ukraine, half of them is elected on the lists.

By simple arithmetic operations we can determine the percentage of representation, i.e. what percentage of voters is represented by a deputy of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. If 225 “party” people’s deputies represent all voters, one deputy represents about 0.44%. Accordingly, such barrier only (0.4% – 1 deputy) would meet the requirements of the Basic Law of Ukraine. If counted so, the present parliament would have the representatives of the Communist Party, “Svoboda”, Gritsenko, Tigipko, “Pravyy Sektor”, “Zastup” and others. It does not mean that broadcasts of sessions of the Verkhovna Rada with the participation of Tiahnybok, Balashov and Symonenko would be merrier, it is about exercising the citizens’ right to be represented in the parliament of the country.

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