The Active Community Schooling “Verkhovna Rada From the Inside” was held for the third time. We will now reflect on the event and share the valuable insights from the speakers.

Oleksandra Hlizhynska, the Executive Director of the Institute “Respublica” and co-founder of the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community”, noted that “trainers involved in “Verkhovna Rada From the Inside” are practitioners.

She also outlined the objectives of the Schooling:

  • to dispel myths about the Parliament that exist in society;
  • to provide ideas on how to cooperate with the Verkhovna Rada;
  • to allow the participants to be involved in Public consultations.

Oleksandr Solontai, politics expert at the Institute of Political Education, told the participants about the role of the Verkhovna Rada within the state authority. The Parliamentis the supreme legislative body acting on behalf of the Ukrainian people. Meanwhile such institution can be found in any country of the world. To better understand the concept of Ukrainian Parliament it is important to be aware of its historical development. “The period between 1990 and 1991 is the golden era of Parliamentarism in Ukraine

Nataliia Malynovska, politics expert at the Institute “Respublica” and the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” spoke about the activities of the VRU. She also shared the lifehacks on how to effectively use the official website of the Rada and where to find the necessary information.

The expert also made a fair point concerning the opposition in the VRU:

“The institution of opposition is non-existent in Verkhovna Rada. There is an interesting situation, where the political parties compete in criticizing actions of the authorities.”

During the second day of the training Oleksandr Solontai spoke about the status of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine. Participants learned how to find Deputies’ contact information, their declarations, and list of assistants.

Nataliia Malynovska informed the participants on the stages draft law goes through to become a law. Turns out Verkhovna Rada passes a lot more laws than the parliaments of other countries in Europe.

“On one hand, the number of laws passed is really impressive compared to other parliaments in Europe. However, the fact that different countries have different legislative procedures and different drafts can be registered in the parliaments should be taken into account.”

On the next day Oleksandr Marusiak added to what Nataliia Malynovska had said:

“There is a phenomenon of legislative spam. It occurs when one Deputy draws up numerous laws that are not passed later or proposes various amendments to laws and all this delays the process.”

The third day of the Schooling started with an address by Oleksandr Marusiak, the Centre of Policy and Legal Reform (CPLR) expert. The activities of committees were discussed and it was established that the committees consist of the People’s Deputies while one Deputy can only be a part of one committee.

Viktor Taran, political scientist and founder of the Center for political studies and analysis “Eidos” was speaking about the evolution of parliament as an institution from antiquity to the present day.

Division into fractions, bribing the voters, and first conflicts between executive and legislative branches – all come from ancient Rome.

The first prototype of parliament in medieval Europe appeared in England. The deputies were elected based on the socio-territorial principle. Two candidates from each social group were elected in each county. They were seated in the Parliament according to their social category (the clergy – on the left, burgesses – in the centre, and knights – on the right). They had minor influence on the King, dealing with taxation, budget, honor and dignity protection.

In the 17th century the English Parliament divided into “Whigs” and “Tories” – first proto-political fractions – based on the political differences (supporters of the King and the monarchy vs supporters of reforms). This way the idea of left-wingers and right-wingers appeared. The Parliament received broader authorities and could now veto King’s decisions. It was then as well, that the first political parties were structured.

The Parliament became the only legitimate body representing the people after the World War I.

“The history of parliament in Ukraine is indicative of the government always being the leader in suggesting new draft laws”.

Further, the training participants went on to learn about the purpose of the fractions. When voting in an election you determine the fractions that will comprise the future government. Ask the party a set of simple questions during the campaign:

  • Who is your candidate for the post of the prime minister?
  • Who are your candidates for the government?
  • Who do you expect to form a coalition with?

On the final day of the training Oleksandra Hlizhynska was speaking about the communication with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. She said it is necessary to examine the issue comprehensively before reaching out to a Deputy. This will help determine the appropriate Deputy and prove that the issue is valid. It is extremely important to, after having negotiated with the government representative, organize public consultations to develop a strategy for addressing the issue.

“Based on the experience of the “Active Community” public consultations are the most effective communication tool,” ‒ Oleksandra noted.

The People’s Deputy Anatolii Kostiukh was also speaking about the communication, but from the point of view of a politician. He said that “the best communication tool is social media.” However, streams and video conferences tend to be the most effective interactions.

This being said, television is not a good tool for interactions between the Deputies and the citizens.

Letters work as well, but one has to know who to write to. For instance, if the issue is related to the reference of work of the Committee, you reach out to a member of that Committee. If there is a local issue, it is better to contact a regional representative who is usually better informed on the peculiarities of the region.

For reference. The Schooling is carried out by the All-Ukrainian Initiative “Active Community” from the Institute “Respublica” within the framework of the program USAID RADA realized by the East Europe Foundation.

Note. The mission of the “Active Community” is to achieve prosperity through the democratic development of Ukrainian communities. The goal for 2025 is to activate and involve at least 1% of citizens in decision-making and promotion of reforms in Ukraine on a systemic basis for the well-being of Ukrainian communities. The initiative was created through the activities of the Institute “Respublica”. We are working to increase the civil activity of citizens.

Author: Diana Deliurman, student at the School of Civil Journalism from the All-Ukrainian initiative “Active Community”