19:31 04.10.2011

Venice Commission advises Ukraine against returning to mixed electoral system

The Venice Commission will publish its conclusions on a bill on the parliamentary elections in Ukraine next week, Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert said at a press conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

He noted that the Ukrainian authorities, the Justice Ministry and the working group have done good work to improve the electoral law, although it still has many flaws.

Markert recalled that Ukraine currently has a proportional election system with a 3% election threshold.

"What we do not like in this system, and what, I think most people in Ukraine do not like in this system, is that it is a system with a single election list, without any constituencies, which means that whether you live in Kyiv or in Donetsk, you still have the same candidate," the commission's secretary said.

He recalled that the Venice Commission recommended Ukraine should retain a proportional system and then gradually introduce regional lists and open lists, in which voters will be able to decide who will be their candidate.

At the same time, the proposed bill greatly changes the election system and envisages the return to mixed-member proportional representation, increases the election threshold to 5% and bans the participation of blocs of political forces in the election.

"So it will be harder [for political parties] to get seats in parliament, and the other half of deputies will be elected in single-mandate constituencies," he said.

According to him, the Venice Commission recommends Ukraine should not return to a mixed election system.

"Also, Ukraine's united opposition clearly told us that they are absolutely against changing the system, and that they want to maintain the existing electoral legislation. In our view, the electoral system has to be changed under the broad consensus of political forces," Markert said.

The Venice Commission secretary said that another problem was defining the boundaries of single-mandate constituencies because each party will try to move them in favor of their candidate, since there are no criteria for determining their borders.

"This is our main concern. As for the rest, the bill provides a good foundation for the upcoming elections," he said.

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