News, pieces of advice and successful stories from the All-Ukrainian initiative «Active Community» for the period 01.03.2019 – 24.03.19
Yuzhne city (Odesa region)
On March 2nd, representatives of the «Active Community» of Yuzhne held a Club meeting on «Reading Programs of Presidential Candidates».
During the first part of the event, participants were made familiar with competences of the President of Ukraine with a coherent list of his functions and duties, which are in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine. When reading and analyzing the programs, such details are important to be aware of, in order to be informed about the realistic opportunities of this position.
However, it is important to mention that in the parliamentary-presidential form of government (in which Ukraine is since 2014), the functions of the President are substantially limited. In fact, in addition to ensuring compliance with the Constitution of Ukraine, there are only two sectors that hold immediate responsibilities, and that is international relations (foreign affairs) and national security and defense (state sovereignty and territorial integrity).
Furthermore, together with national deputies, members of the Cabinet of Ministers and the National Bank, the President of Ukraine is the subject of legislative initiative. This means that he has the right to submit bills for consideration to the Parliament (also has the right to the pressing or urgent considerations of his initiative). Also, the President has the right to veto laws passed by the Verkhovna Rada.
More about the competences of the President of Ukraine can be found in section V of the Constitution of Ukraine.
Additionally, participants of the meeting expressed their thoughts on the priority steps that a candidate should make after he/she becomes a president.
Some of the speeches of people:
- remove parliamentary immunity;
- raise the level of the economy, subsistence level (in order to help people to survive and provide them with everything necessary);
- to appoint the ministers of education and health to provide competent people, highly skilled specialists in these areas;
- equalize, balance wages, pensions, utilities-prices;
- strengthen the punishment for corruption (so that everyone has the responsibility of both administrative and criminal);
- stop the war in the East by consensus, agreements.
Also, citizens stressed a reduction in numbers of the parliamentary deputies at the Verkhovna Rada.
During the second part of the event, participants were divided into groups and analyzed programs of the top candidates for the presidency of Ukraine. They used an appropriate algorithm with indicative issues that people should pay attention to when taking a particular program into consideration. It is worth to mention that the text of the programs that were handed out to the participants had the names (or the competencies) of the candidates removed, in order to ensure maximum objectivity in the course of reading and analyzing.
Participants repeatedly drew their attention to the majority of the promises in the programs which are beyond the constitutional competences of the President of Ukraine. However, some of the participants expressed that they would not mind if the President would possess more opportunities and influence. Participants also focused on the fact that some of the programs lack some details in the texts, the documents lack clarification on the detailed steps for the implementation of certain promises, and oftentimes their promises not to correspond to the competences of the President which should be in accordance with the Constitution of Ukraine. It is important for a candidate to indicate which bills he is planning to initiate, and not promise them in advance a 100% acceptance and successful implementation.
In addition, the attendees drew attention to the fact that some of the candidates do not focus on the facts and on the people, as for example criticism of rivals, previous or current authorities, who are trying to stand out on behalf of somebody else, but on the other hand they are focused on the appeals. Moreover, according to the participants, in some programs, the performance is based on emotions, feelings, and lack of arguments on the merits of the case.
On March 5th, Inna Pashanyuk, Regional Coordinator of the Chernivtsi «Active Community», took part in a public discussion «The Role of Woman in Chernivtsi: Points of Growth and Engagement», organized within the framework of a group of projects on democratic governance of the United Nations Development Program.
At this event, participants could share their thoughts on gender equality, integrity and inclusiveness at the local government. During the meeting, several info facts were discussed: female is only 10 out of 64 deputies in the Chernivtsi Regional Council. In the city council, the situation is even worse – 4 out of 42, which is much lower compared to other regions of the country.
As a result, thanks to constructive communication, key theses were formulated, which explains the obstacles of the inclusion of women in democratic processes:
«Mentality – for a woman from Bukovyna a family is always in the first place, and even for the money she is unlikely to change her lifestyle», – deputy of the regional council from Olga Kobevka (party «Samopomich»).
«Every work must be paid. People often do not even know that local deputies do not receive salaries for their activities», – said Maria Nikitina, deputy of the Vyzhnytsya City Council (party «Syla Lyudey»).
«There is a cooling effect when an initiative woman faces an onset of public criticism and retrack her ambitions», – media expert Nadezhda Babynska-Virna.
Participants expressed their opinion that they could see the ways of solving such issues by means of systematic education and a positive example of their own. Such events are extremely useful and inspire people towards reaching new achievements, and they also support them with growing their confidence and strengths.
«People change their minds and are not afraid to turn to me for solving personal issues. It all depends on how we perceive ourselves and represent it to others», – Maria Nikita.
On March 6th, the first meeting of the «Active Community» Club of Kharkiv took place, whereby citizens received new information, shared new experiences and raised awareness on a number of political issues.
During the training, the participants read programs of presidential candidates. They analyzed each part and compared them from others and populist components. During the first meeting, participants got familiar with various activities of a public organization «Institute Respublica» in Ukraine and its All-Ukrainian initiative “Active Community». During the meeting, issues on electoral legislation, electoral reform, and its necessity were discussed.
Oleksandra Shchukina explained what the electoral reform represents and what key principles and positive changes it brings to a society. After the training participants expressed their interest to join the next meetings and take an active part in the activities of the «Active Community» of Kharkiv. Also, all these participants emphasized the importance and usefulness of similar pieces of training such as the one of that day.
«We need to do such meetings and increase the number of the club members, which we will actively support, because citizens must comprehend the electoral process and make sensible choices». «Why I did not know about such clubs before… unfortunately, there was not such opportunity in Kharkiv. I believe that the main reason behind the fact that more citizens are becoming more active is because of the politics in the country which is not held responsible», said psychologist Sergiy.
After the initial theory session, the candidate’s programs of Yulia Tymoshenko and Volodymyr Zelenskyi were analyzed.
On the evening of Monday, March 13, the «Active Community» Club of Kyiv gathered representatives of NGOs and universities of Kyiv at the first meeting on «Reading Programs of Candidates to the President post of Ukraine».
The specialty regarding considering the programs was their «anonymity» – participants of the meeting did not know what program they were analyzed, which ensured its maximum objectivity. During the 5 programs analysis, the results showed that many of these programs do not correspond with the constitutional competencies of the President of Ukraine, and in some cases, the programs lack the common sense. Oftentimes, candidates proclaim their promises, mechanisms, and timing arrangements which tend to be unclear. On the other hand, participants also noted the strengths of the candidates’ programs. Attention was drawn to the level of intelligibility of programs, their populism, types of arguments, and the existence of an explanation of the mechanisms on how the candidates are on fulfilling their promises.
– Throughout the meeting, we had a great deal of fun and laughter when analyzing the foolish and improbable promises (of the candidates). But then it became incredibly sad that many people did not read the program at all or did not think about why they have been written and whether the candidate will be able to fulfill his/her promises in case of his/her victory, – said a participant after the meeting.
«This event was for me personally very helpful. The first thing I will do today when I’ll come home is to carefully read the programs of the top five candidates», – said Mark, a member of the Club.
All participants agreed that analyzing the programs is incredibly important and it makes it easier for them to understand what is the vision of each candidate regarding Ukraine’s future. This approach will help them to see whether the programs match with their own vision, in order to make the most sensible choice as soon as possible.
Kreminna сity (Lugansk region)
From March 11th to 14th, Elena Zinova, the communication coordinator from the «Active Community», took part in a series of training sessions on the project supported by the British Council.
During the pieces of training participants received recommendations on the completion and implementation of their social ideas for the development of their own city.
As a representative of the «Active Community» of Kreminna, Elena developed her own project: «Children and Youth Fitness Center». This project aims to attract about 40 preschool children and teenagers, including children with disabilities, activities aimed at healthy lifestyles, creating a culture of fitness and culture of a healthy lifestyle through an organization of the Youth Center and conducting free class sessions on fitness activities during 2019. Furthermore, it has been planned to create interactive games indoors and outdoors on the basis of the Kreminna District Center for Social Rehabilitation of Children with Disabilities.
According to the organizer, this project will demonstrate and will change the conception of young people about a healthy lifestyle, and will show them the idea that being sporty is a cool and prestigious activity.
On March 16, a meeting held in Dnipro organized by the «Active Community» Club was held on a topic: «Programs of the candidates for the presidency of Ukraine». During the meeting, coordinators Dmitry Chernyshov and Dmitry Tverdokhlib discussed with the participants the programs of 7 candidates (without mentioning names of candidates) of Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelenskyi, Yulia Tymoshenko, Oleg Lyashko, Roman Bezsmertnyi, Yuri Derevyanko, Volodymyr Petrov.
Participants quickly recognized programs of top presidential candidates based on the style by which each program was written. However, the program of politicians with low ratings was difficult to guess.
Furthermore, participants also discussed the adequacy of the candidates’ programs with the authority of the President of Ukraine. Participants acknowledged that it is necessary to vote for a candidate who:
- has a positive political history
- leads an active practice at the governmental bodies or in public initiatives,
- fulfills his/her promises
- does not have a dubious past
- does not give empty promises.
Take it, vote! On March 21, in Ternopil, an action was taken place by the Coalition of Public Organization at the Ternopil Center for Reforms, which called on Ternopil citizens not to ignore the elections and to come to the polling stations on March 31.
During the meeting, the organizers suggested to participate in a quiz and answer questions about the tasks and responsibilities of the deputies of Verkhovna Rada and Parliament. After these games, citizens received a small gift.
In addition, the organizers conducted an investigatory work on how to check whether a person is included in the list of voters, where polling stations are located, where to look for election programs of the candidates, their declarations, etc.
Representatives of the «Active Community» of Ternopil Region, Roman Nebozhuk and Michael Gavrylyak also joined this action.
During the action, Mikhail Gavrilyak played the role of a student, who is indifferent to his choice and wants to go abroad. However, he urged young people to come to the polls so that others would not make (an incognizant) choice instead. Nowadays there are many young people in Ukraine, who believe that their voice is a contribution to their future.
On March 21st, an NGO «Time-Action» hosted a meeting of the «Active Community» Club on «Reading candidates’ programs. Verification of promises».
During the meeting, a coordinator of an NGO «Center UA» Iryna Stasiuk presented a program analysis of presidential candidates and analyzed their structure. Also, she spoke about the available tools to compare the programs of the candidates.
In the second part of the Club meeting, participants read programs of the top candidates in an interactive form. This step was important in order to understand what goals have the candidates set, how much they are in line with the interests of Ukrainian citizens, and whether the applicant demonstrates clear mechanisms for their potential achievement.
By reading the programs, participants have learned about the level of the purposefulness of the candidates’ programs – how clear are their vision of Ukraine for the future, how much is he/she aware of the responsibilities and limits of the constitutional powers of the President of Ukraine.
An intense week among the representatives of the «Active Community» of Dobropilla. A debatable tournament was held among schoolchildren, who discussed different sides of a medal (government and opposition) on a topic: «the reasons why we need «transparent» elections for Ukrainians». The debate was aimed at raising the political awareness of young people, engaging them in a debate on political reforms, capacity development, and creative abilities. Two students Kateryna Kaplunova and Kyrylo Shavurskyi won this intellectual battle and were given the opportunity to go to the National Debate Tournament, which will be held in Kyiv.
During the meeting of the «Active Community» Club, the programs of the top candidates for the presidency of Ukraine were studied and discussed. What falls under the authority of the president, and where the manipulation of the voters is going by those who have loud statements, were topics which were discussed in detail during the meeting. Participants came to the conclusion that, without getting familiarized with the programs of candidates for the post of head of state, to cast their votes is considered simply as a «crime».
Also, a meeting with USAID representatives on the implementation of the project «Economic Support for Eastern Ukraine» was held. Participants debated on the city’s development strategy, mechanisms for attracting citizens to city life. And social responsibility of entrepreneurs was discussed by members.
At the end of the week, a traditional info-hour session was held near and in the city council. Activists talked with the citizens about the running of the election process, the programs of the candidates, and the importance of participating in the presidential elections in Ukraine.
Participants in this city have completed the reading of 14 programs of the candidates. An interesting experience is the formation of a group of public experts who are focused on the election programs. And then, parliamentary elections will be held later, and there will also be party programs. Activists hope that their efforts were not without effect.
On March 22nd, in «Aura Akademika» activists held a student reading program of candidates for the post of President of Ukraine. With the readers who were newcomers, they drew a portrait of the ideal president of Ukraine and his/her program. Furthermore, they learned about the powers of the guarantor according to the Constitution as well.
Additionally, participants analyzed 3 more candidate programs. Overall rating from participants is as follows. All programs were easily readable. However, there are too many jargon and terms like «orphan diseases», «sociopolis», «silver economy», «business 4.0», «peace court», «prefect». In terms of rhetoric, an appeal to emotions and feelings prevails. Evaluators again lacked numbers and specifics, ways of implementing the program, and also it was difficult to identify the target audience to which the message was sent.
At the end of the readings, all four meetings and general evaluations of 14 candidates’ programs for the position of a President of Ukraine were reflected on. An expression that “it is difficult to put everything on the four or five sheets” was heard during the session. A limited time for citizens to participate was brought up, which makes candidates limited to express themselves. And the event concluded with an agreement that if we are not active, then we will not formulate a request for a quality policy with clear promises within the limits of our competence.