Public funding for political parties will help new players to step in, MPs and experts are sure. They agree that political advertising needs to be significantly limited or banned. Amendments to election legislation and strong authorities will help reform Ukraine’s political system.
Kyiv, June 6, 2016. The Law on public funding of political parties will not start working on July 1. Main problem is that the political system is owned by the oligarchs. “They did their best so that we do not have new staff at the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption (NAPC), the Central Election Commission and the Accounting Chamber [agencies that are due to implement this law]. NAPC only starts operating while the Central Election Commission and the Accounting Chamber are illegitimate,” noted Oksana Syroyid, Vice Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament) during the discussion organized as part of the “Political Transformations Day” by Ukraine Crisis Media Center. She said two preconditions are key so that non-corrupt government in Ukraine would emerge: state funding for political parties and high-quality election law that will enable holding elections based on the proportional representation voting system and moving away from the majoritarian system.
Svitlana Zalishchuk, MP, is convinced that there are strong players in Ukraine willing to make this law work. They are civil society organizations, journalists, international partners towards which Ukraine has its commitments as well as new parliamentary forces. “Parliamentary forces are able to demonstrate an example of what the alternative use of public funding may be like. They may well become a success story of what the alternative funding in politics is,” the MP noted. She added that it is crucial that the state funding is not exclusively directed to existing political forces but becomes a precondition for new political players in Ukraine to appear.
According to the Head of Board of the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research Yuliya Tyshchenko in addition to legislative changes it is important to set up transparent coordination between the National Agency for Prevention of Corruption and the Central Election Commission. “Legislation needs to be amended, independent institutions guided by political feasibility need to be established,” she noted. Olena Rybiy, representative of the civil network OPORA noted that NAPC is just about to adopt the standardized form for financial reporting and to conduct analytical work that would set the deadlines. “However we do not even know whether they will have such analytical capacities at all. While we were supposed to see the first reports about one month ago,” she added.
Oleksiy Koshel, Head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine named the steps required for building an efficient political system. They include a full-fledged election reform that foresees complete ban on political advertising and 100 percent proportional representation voting system. “Ban on political advertising is to make Ukrainian politics cheap. […] Parties are spending about 90 percent of their funding on political advertising. We can decrease several times the cost of election campaigns, make elections affordable for new and not rich political parties as well as help de-oligarchize the parties,” he explained. He also emphasized that the process of registering a party needs to be made more complicated while the process of lifting it from registration needs to be simplified to the maximum. “Irregularly high number of parties does not lead to increased trust towards the parties as such, to political life and to the state in general,” Koshel noted. He added that a total of 361 parties are now registered in Ukraine. Koshel is also of the opinion that operational procedures of the Verkhovna Rada need to be changed due to the irregularly high number of draft laws submitted – four thousand. He suggests attributing the right of legislative initiative to a group exceeding 19 MPs as opposed to one MP in order to avoid “legislative spam”.
Oleksandr Chernenko, MP, is of the opinion that political advertising needs not be banned but limited instead, a series of criteria for its placement need to be set. They include fixed duration, equal access for all political forces and mandatory participation of the party leader who would explain the program. Svitlana Zalishchuk added that ban on political advertising would restrain the political visibility that parties and politicians now have. It is going to close the access to politics for young players. According to Olena Rybiy ban or considerable limits to political advertising will reinforce new formats on TV, debates in particular. It will also make parties come and talk to people, work with people directly.