On Monday, February 1st, the Ukrinform News Agency hosted the press conference: “New Version of Law on Political Parties: Purpose and Principal Novelties”.
In Ukraine, the right to form political parties is recognized as the basic freedom of modern democracies. According to a public opinion poll held by the Razumkov Centre, 73,2% of citizens do not trust political parties. The level of communication between political parties and citizens during the inter-election period is minimized. Therefore, a new version of the Law on Political Parties, presented at the press conference by topic experts, was developed specifically to remedy this situation.
The new draft law is aimed at promoting the evolution of political institutions in Ukraine and creating a field for quality partnership, cooperation between citizens and political parties, and, ultimately, increasing confidence in political parties.
In December 2020, the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community”, together with the working group of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on drafting the Law on Political Parties in partnership with the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform in association with the National Democratic Institute and with the support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), held a series of public consultations with regard to this bill.
In the course of the press conference, Oleksandra Hlizhynska, the Executive Director of the Institute “Respublica” and a co-founder of the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community”, noted that “Active Community” had been promoting the idea of public consultations at local self-government bodies.
“So, we held a series of public consultations on this bill. Why is this important? Unfortunately, political parties do not have the support of citizens. Despite this, currently, there are more than 350 political parties in Ukraine. However, people have no trust in parties. But the problem is, whether we like it or not, that political parties affect our political life, by taking decisions both at the national level, being present at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the local level. That is why the Public Consultation on this Draft Law was an extremely important step. Moreover, this bill is strategic for our state. Therefore, the development of such strategic decisions must pass certain procedure, in particular, the one which the current bill has passed. It includes the forming of working groups, expert discussions, and public consultations that we have conducted. All this speaks for the importance of public politics, which has received a lot of attention from both the government and the public,” Oleksandra recounts.
According to her, various stakeholders were involved in this process: party activists, the scientific community, and public activists.
“Most of the proposals developed by the working group were supported by the participants of the Public Consultation. Moreover, even the participants themselves spoke of the topical problems in society with regard to political parties. The proposal to open registers of political parties was partially supported. Even the party members acknowledged that if the registers were open, if people had access to the lists of political parties’ members, citizens would be able to better assess a political party. In this regard, for partisans, the reason why they attach great importance to this and what they hope for is that open lists would ensure that less random people appear in the electoral lists formed right before elections. However, there were some concerns about personal data protection. Still, this information is to be provided in a limited way. The expansion of the rights of party activists and ordinary party members was also supported. Speaking of the classic rules for party-building, it should be formed in a bottom-up way. If we take away the right of an ordinary party member to influence the drafting of a party’s political platform, the development of strategy, the formation of governing bodies, the party loses its significance because citizens can no longer affect its development. The participants provided their recommendations on how to improve the activities of political parties at a grassroots level. As regards the issue of funding: the participants supported a more transparent format of parties’ funding by ordinary citizens. It was also suggested that financial reports of political parties should be made public before elections, for instance, this information should be published both on a party’s website and on the websites of the National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) and the Central Election Commission of Ukraine (CEC). By now, the proposals of the participants of the Public Consultation have been incorporated in the Draft Law. Further, after we receive the conclusions by international organizations, we, jointly with the CPLR and the working group of the Verkhovna Rada, are going to hold a series of public forums to better inform the public about the novelties of the Draft Law and to gather feedback from participants,” Oleksandra Hlizhynska noted.
The Executive Director of the Institute “Respublica” further noted that the best European practice of drafting laws proved the importance of involving stakeholders in this process.
“In Ukraine, this approach has not yet been widely used, but the Draft Law on Political Parties embarks on this course – in keeping up with the best traditions of public politics. First, there was a working group set up at the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, then, there was a discussion with experts. In December, we held a series of public consultations with party activists, party builders, public activists and scholars, engaging all the regions of Ukraine in the discussion of the key ideas of the bill,” Oleksandra added.
The full version of the press conference can be watched at:
For reference. The press conference was organized by the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform in partnership with the Civil Network OPORA, the NGO Integrity.UA and the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” with the financial support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), The Global Affairs Canada and the UK Aid Direct from the UK Government.
Note. The All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” is an association of people and social movements for self-organization and participation in solving local problems. The Initiative was created within the framework of the Institute “Respublica” activities.