Oleksandr Solontay, an expert in politics and local self-governance spoke frankly about public finances, legal election payments, grey and shadow electoral campaign budgets, black finances and voter bribery during a webinar: “Money and elections: who pays to whom and for what before, during and after the election?” .

According to Oleksandr, there are numerous vertical schemes “Who pays to whom during the elections”.

Who pays?

– Candidates pay for victory, both those who are likely to reach the election threshold and those who are not.

For instance, they pay for the right to run as a candidate for a party – this is an example of a shadow payment because it is not documented, there are no receipts.

– Those who stand behind the candidates, the investors.

– The state that is responsible for the election.

There is a payment to polling station commissioners for a day spent at a polling station on the election day. This is an official payment that is included into the budget. The answer to the question “who pays” in this case is ‘all of us’. We pay taxes to the state budget, and the fees to all the people who gave us ballots at polling stations were paid from the state budget.

– Business, to keep its profits.

“Still, if we ask: who has bought a place in a list for a candidate or the right to be supported by any of the party, the question ‘who pays?’ is important. Sometimes it can be free of costs. However, it already came to a point where some parties even pay candidates for being candidates from their party. It has happened many times, in particular, during the elections in united territorial communities, when the number of candidates at a village council is very limited, but a party has to report to the centre that they have nominated the candidates and filled all the positions. It even happened that people were paid directly to run for a party, or that local authorities were paid for getting their candidates listed,” tells O. Solontay.

Observers are also paid during elections. Sometimes observers work for free. It happens when they are family members or close friends of a candidate. It also happens when they are convinced supporters of some political party or force.

To the question: “Who is paid during elections” the answer can go as follows: the mass media, for posting publications biased in favour of certain candidates or parties.

The question “for what they pay?” A mayoral candidate can be paid for meeting with voters from some microdistricts and not meeting with certain voters from certain microdistricts. In such a way the votes are distributed, the electoral distribution takes place.

During elections, billboard placement can also be paid for.

How much a dummy candidate is paid?

A dummy candidate costs differently: from 5 thousand hryvnias to a million, depending on where he or she is and what he or she runs for.

Should people be paid for working at a polling station?

In accordance with legislation in force, the work at a polling station shall be paid for.

“I think that the amount paid for it is insufficient and should be increased. I do not agree with the decision of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, which in spring 2020 reduced that sum under the pretext of fighting the coronavirus. Persons who will go to the frontline of election, who will issue ballots, are going to be in contact with a large amount of people and, on the contrary, may be infected with coronavirus. That is why, quite the opposite, their salary should be increased,” believes O. Solontay.

Registration fees and other mandatory registration payments

As it stands today, according to the Electoral Code of Ukraine, the plurality system is applied in the areas with the population up to 90 thousand people, in all other areas the party system is used. In places where the plurality system is applied there are no cash deposits and no payments. When this barrier is lowered, the payments may arise. However, we do not yet know how to lower this barrier. Under this barrier there are no payments. 

Will there be any payment during the elections to regional councils or district councils?

It is panned to introduce payments to regional councils. The situation is different for district councils. Now in this case the plurality system is applied, so there are no cash deposits. However, a proposal was made to the Verkhovna Rada to introduce payments for such elections as well. In other words, it is suggested to cancel the plurality system for district elections and use the party bases, which may be followed by the introduction of deposits. There is also a proposal to cancel the elections to district councils. I support this proposal. The solution to the issue of introduction of cash deposits now depends on the proposal the Verkhovna Rada will decide to support.

Will the cash deposit for candidates in the cities with the population over 90 thousand people be reduced?

The Verkhovna Rada has voted to reduce deposit by a factor of two to three. We will see this week what the Committees of the Verkhovna Rada will do.

The participants of the webinar, in their part, highly praised the holding of the event and the competence of the speaker.

The participant of the webinar Petro Perehiniak noted the high level of the event. “An interesting and competent speaker. I would like to listen to a webinar on the peculiarities of the election campaign in a small town.”

Olha Onopriichuk: “Many thanks to the organisers and especially to Oleksandr Solontay for the opportunity to acquire some knowledge. I am interested in the topic ‘Changes and innovations in the elections of local deputies in the areas with the population up to 90 thousand people in 2020.”

Ihor Syromiatnykov noted that he was interested in every topic related to the problems of IDP and election issues.

I believe it is valuable when during such meetings people not only get answers to the questions but new, deeper questions also arise which involve understanding of what each participant personally can do for the future right now. The speaker skillfully managed to achieve this effect, I am sure that the participants now also have something to think about and should decide how to act accordingly. It is a true revelation for me that in the autumn we are going to elect not the amalgamated territorial community councils but city councils with the addition of nearby villages. Yesterday morning I even argued about it with our deputy mayor during a meeting, and those present supported me. Today I went there to ‘correct the mistake’.

Reference information. The goal of the Active Community Clubs is to conduct a dialogue with the citizens about the political reforms that are held as a part of the Right of Choice Project supported by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) with funding from the United States Agency for International Development.

Note. The mission of Active Community Initiative: to achieve prosperity through the democratic development of Ukrainian communities. The goal set for 2025: to activate at least 1% of the citizens and to involve them in decision-making process and promotion of reforms in Ukraine on a systemic basis for prosperity of Ukrainian communities. This initiative was established as a part of the activities of the Institute Republica. We work to increase the conscious activity of the citizens.

Author: Head of the Press Service of the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active CommunityTetiana Kavunenko