How has the draft law “On political parties” changed after the public consultations and consultations with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fractions?

A series of Public Consultations on the development of the draft law “On Political Parties” with the involvement of the public, experts, researchers, deputies and activists from all over Ukraine took place in December 2020.

During the events:

● the concept of the draft law was presented;

● the participants of the public consultation worked in groups: the issues submitted for public consultation were discussed;

● the results of group work were presented and discussed.

Participants and experts considered the following issues:

● intra-party democracy;

● the role and status of political parties;

● financing the activities of political parties.

The organisers prepared an analytical report based on the results of a series of public consultations. During the refinement of the draft law the working group of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine took into account the conclusions made after the public consultations.

Thus, appropriate amendments to the draft law were made after the public consultations.

Regarding the general provisions:

● The new terminology was introduced, the concepts of “local organization of a political party” and “structural formations of a political party” were defined. The terms “decisive influence”, “ultimate beneficial owner (controller)” are used in the meaning given in the Law of Ukraine “On Prevention and Counteraction to Legalization (Laundering) of the Proceeds of Crime or Terrorist Financing and Financing Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”. The party congress (meeting, conference) is the highest governing body of a political party. The definition of “qualified electronic signature” was introduced.

● In the definition of “political party” it is emphasized that the purpose of the activity of a political party is to promote the formation and expression of political will of the citizens of Ukraine, participation in elections and other political events primarily for the participation in the management of public affairs.

● Political parties are defined as non-profit organizations, but not legal entities under public law.

● A new principle of respect for the constitutional order and sovereignty of the state has been introduced. This principle has to prohibit the formation and operation of political parties whose program goals or actions are aimed at promoting communist and/or National Socialist (Nazi) totalitarian regimes and their symbols.

● The new principle of non-discrimination is introduced. It additionally takes into account quotas for ensuring the balanced representation of women and men in the governing bodies of a political party and to enshrine provisions for equal rights and opportunities for women and men, sexism, prejudice, harassment and other discriminatory practices in the statute of the political party and the code of ethics.

● Public authorities, local governments and their officials are prohibited from granting benefits or privileges to any political parties, their members, or from promoting the activities of a certain political party, unless it`s provided by law.

● Political parties have the right to hold peaceful actions (previously only peaceful meetings, rallies, marches and demonstrations were allowed);

● Political parties do not form and express the political will of citizens, but contribute to its formation and expression.

Regarding the procedure for formation and registration of political parties

● Within six months from the date of state registration a political party has to ensure the formation and registration in the manner prescribed by this Law and the party’s statute of its regional organizations in at least five constituencies of Ukraine (previously it had to be done in most regions without mentioning the exact number).

● The statute of a political party must contain additional information on the list of governing and other statutory bodies of the political party, the procedure for their formation and change the membership, the level of authority; the procedure for convening and holding a party congress (meeting, conference) of a political party; the procedure for forming and changing the membership of the party’s disciplinary bodies; the procedure for adopting, amending and complementing the party’s code of ethics and other party regulations.

● The provision that prescribes that the relevant election commission refuses to register all candidates nominated by the party if the party’s (party’s organization) election program establishes provisions aimed at liquidating of Ukraine’s independence, forcibly changing the constitutional order, violating sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state, undermining its security, illegal seizure of state power, propaganda of war, violence, incitement of interethnic, racial, religious hatred, encroachment on human rights and freedoms, public health is excluded, but it is possible to prohibit the political party by the court decision on the lawsuit of the Ministry of Justice Of Ukraine.

● The code of ethics is formed taking into account the principles of non-discrimination.

The code of ethics sets standards for public communication, including the communication with political opponents, party donors, party supporters, voters, etc. The accepted standards take into account the principles of political party activity provided by the Law (it became a duty, not a right). The code of ethics is no longer registered with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine.

● The norm which states that a political party is obliged to submit information on changes in party members for the first half of the year by July 15 of the year, and for the second half of the year by January 15 of the following year, is excluded. The Ministry of Justice of Ukraine receives information on the number of members of a political party from the Unified register of members of political parties.

Regarding the membership in political parties

● A political party is obliged to contribute information about its members in the Unified Register of Members of Political Parties (the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine isn’t involved in this procedure now).

● The indispensable condition to provide at least three written recommendations from any three members of a political party in order to become a member of a political party is excluded.

● Membership in a political party is suspended or terminated from the date of submission of such an application and does not require additional decisions. From the same day, the membership of a citizen of Ukraine in the statutory bodies of the political party to which he was elected (delegated), as well as holding any position in the political party for which he was elected (appointed) is automatically terminated. The rule that such an order does not apply to members of a political party elected to the positions of party leader and deputy head of a political party is excluded.

Certificate. The events were conducted by a working group of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on drafting a law on political parties in partnership with All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” and the Centre for Political and Legal Reforms and with support from the National Democratic Institute and USAID.

Note. All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community”is a gathering of people and social movements for self-organization and participation in solving local problems. The initiative was created within the activities of the “Institute Respublica”.

The analytical report was prepared by: Anna Ilyina, Regional Coordinator of All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” in Odessa

Infographics: Tetyana Kavunenko, head of the press service of the Institute Respublica and All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community”