Viktor Baloha, a Head of the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine, informed on Wednesday, 11 March that the Secretariat’s legal services are drafting proposals to change the electoral legislation in country. The objects of change are parliamentary and local elections. In particular, the Secretariat is going to propose to switch to the open party lists (in frames of proportional system). The relevant projects of law will be tabled in Parliament soon.
“Due to a current election system, we have the Parliament, which is considered by the majority of experts as the most unprofessional. Yesterday massage therapists, office-girls, guards, and drivers of party bonzes are working now as People’s Deputies (Members of Parliament. – T.V.). I am sure that they are exactly not the people Ukrainian voters wanted to delegate to power. Ukrainians want to know, whom they are electing”, Mr. Baloha emphasized.
One day before – on 11 March 2009 – the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko released the Member of Parliament of Ukraine Sergiy Holovaty (the oppositional Party of Regions) from his duty as a Member of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the advisory body of the Council of Europe. Starting from this week, Maryna Stavniychuck, the Deputy Head of the Presidential Secretariat, is representing Ukraine at the sittings in the Scuola Grande di San Giovanni Evangelista in Venice.
The dismissal of Sergiy Holovaty, a lawyer, who is very respected in Europe, and in the Council of Europe in particular, was not a coincidence: the Venice Commission has examined two documents concerning elections in Ukraine on 14 March. Unfortunately, I still have no information about the decision of the experts of the Venice Commission on a Draft law of Ukraine amending the Constitution of Ukraine, initiated by Members of Parliament of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych (Head of the Party of Regions) and Oleksandr Lavrynovych (Vice-Speaker of Parliament, member of the Party of Regions), and a Draft law amending the Law on Election of People’s Deputies of Ukraine, initiated by Oleksandr Lavrynovych and Andriy Portnov (Block of Yulia Tymoshenko). I know only that the Venice Commission is not over-enthusiastic about the ideas to cut off dramatically the presidential powers in Ukraine. Anyway it is clear that the current President wanted to have a bit of influence on this decision.
The amendments to the electoral law may be used earlier than expected. The Speaker of the Parliament of Ukraine Volodymyr Lytvyn mentioned on 12 March that after the presentation of a mew electoral system, the call for the simultaneous presidential, parliamentary and local elections is quite possible. A Member of Parliament from Our Ukraine – People’s Self-Defence block Vladyslav Kaskiv also thinks that the early parliamentary election may be held as “the most easy way out”. Viktor Yanukovych also said he’s in favour of the simultaneous parliamentary/presidential poll in his televised interview.
Another news of the expiring week is that the leader of the Communist Party Petro Symonenko said he has already prepared the motion for the impeachment of the President of Ukraine. “Serving President has not ever infracted the Constitution and laws of Ukraine”, answered the Head of the Presidential Secretariat in the newspaper interview. “It is easy to explain the words of a member of democratic coalition Petro Symonenko. He is so inspired by Tymoshenko’s instructions that voters may not understand, whether he is a member of her party or the Head of the Communists”. According to Mr. Baloha, the presidential election will be held on 17 January, 2010. The Head of the Secretariat did not inform journalists, whether President is going to take part in the election.
Meanwhile, we had a very interesting public event here in Kyiv on Friday: around 350 people gathered near the building of Parliament, demanding to introduce the direct presidential rule in the country. “Crisis is a right time for the presidential rule”, their slogans said.