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IFES-OPORA Updates Joint Paper on Reform Priorities for Elections, Referendums and Political Finance

(June 20, 2018)


Photo: IFES


IFES and Civil Network OPORA prepared an updated version of the “Legal Reform Priorities for Elections, Referendums and Political Finance” paper that was initially developed in June 2017. The original paper represented consensus among Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on a core set of principles and reform priorities, and helped to inform and guide CSO efforts in promoting electoral reform. The paper stressed the lack of progress in a number of crucial electoral areas and identified priority actions to address the key flaws in the legal framework and its enforcement related to elections, referendums and political finance. While most of the key issues raised in the paper remain intact, there have been a number of developments since summer 2017, including the adoption of the draft Election Code No 3112-1 in the first reading and the ruling of the undemocratic 2012 National Referendum Law as unconstitutional by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. The updated version of the paper addresses changes that have occurred since June 2017 and identifies the urgent election-related priorities that must be implemented at least one year before the October 2019 Parliamentary Elections, as necessitated by international standards and best practices.
The updated paper titled, “Key Priorities for Reform of Elections, Referendums and Political Finance,” outlines legislative changes that are still possible under Ukraine’s current parallel system that would significantly strengthen the country’s electoral processes, including:

– harmonization of election laws;
– mandatory certification of election commissioners;
– introduction of timely, proportionate, effective and dissuasive penalties for electoral violations;
– replacement of Central Election Commission (CEC) members with expired terms;
– implementation of structural and operational reforms of the CEC;
– ensuring electoral rights of underrepresented and disenfranchised groups (internally displaced persons, internal economic migrants, women and people with disabilities);
– adoption of the new National Referendum Law;
– establishment of an electronic declaration system for political party and campaign financial reports;
– considering restrictions on campaign spending and advertising; and,
– harmonization of political finance provisions for local elections.

IFES believes that electoral reform in Ukraine is not only possible, but crucial if Ukraine is to address the significant challenges to its democratic future. IFES, in partnership with the Ukrainian civil society, and through the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK aid, will continue to offer technical assistance and support to an inclusive and transparent electoral reform process that is based on international standards and good practice.

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