On December 18, 2017, the Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government held a roundtable on “Legislative Regulation of the Legal Status of Local Councilors: State of Play and Prospects for Improvement”, which included presentation of the Policy Paper “Proposals for the Policy on Regulation of the Status of Local Councilors”.
The event was organized by the VRU Committee on State Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government in co-operation with the project Promoting Local Democracy in Ukraine implemented by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
The roundtable involved discussion of the current state and thorny issues of the implementation of Ukrainian legislation as regards the status of local councilors, ways to resolve these issues, and examination of the international experience of the work of local councilors.
Kateryna Handzyuk, Advisor to the Kherson City Mayor, Councilor of the Kherson Oblast Council, member of the Executive Committee of the Kherson City Council, expert of the Agency for Legislative Initiatives.
“The issue of the need to amend the legislation regulating the status of local councilors in Ukraine has been raised repeatedly. This resulted, if anything, in cosmetic changes to the legislative framework and, in particular, the Law “On the Status of Local Councilors”.
However, the principles and foundation remained the same, and the electoral law, the law on public service, and anti-corruption legislation changed.
Having analyzed the Law, we chose its key sore points that require a cautious approach because some inconsistency of the Law produces tension. These include the issue of representation in the light of the Law “On Local Elections” as amended in 2015 and the issue of recalling local councilor on people’s initiative.
We believe that by settling these issues in combination with other amendments that need to be introduced into the Law, we will be able to improve and resolve the problem of the status of local councilors.”
Presenting the study, Ms. Handzyuk focused on the issue of constituencies in the light of the current Law “On Local Elections”; the issue of recalling local councilors in the current Law and the practice of its enforcement; judicial practice of appealing against decisions, actions and inactivity of territorial election commissions in the process of recalling councilors on people’s initiative; as well as examined the stakeholders and their impact on the problem.
Ms. Handzyuk highlighted the following recommendations aimed at settling the status of the local councilor:
- Article 2 of the Law “On the Status of Local Councilors” shall be amended with paragraph 2 as follows: “Not later than at the second session, councilors of city, city district, district, and oblast councils elected in multi-mandate constituencies shall be appointed to the respective territorial election districts by decision of the relevant council/by decision of the local organizations of the political parties from whose electoral lists they were elected. The relevant decision is urgent and shall be published in official print publications, on official websites, information stands or in any other way communicated to the voters of the respective territorial constituency no later than in 1 working day”.
- All other articles shall use the term ‘relevant territorial election district represented by a councilor’.
- Para. 3, Section 1 of Article 37 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Status of Local Councilors” (“lack of compliance of the councilor’s practical activity with the basic principles and provisions of his election program”) shall be deleted, since Article 38 of the Law of Ukraine “On Local Elections” does not require that candidates provide any election programs.
- Instead, Para. 1, Section 1, Article 37 (Grounds for recalling of local councilors by voters who elected them) shall be revised to read as follows: “infringement by the local councilor after assumption of powers of the provisions of the Constitution and laws of Ukraine related to his office as established by the court”.
- Section 3 of Art. 38 of the Law of Ukraine “On the Status of Local Councilors” shall provide for the obligation to publish information on the date, place and time of the meeting of the action group for recalling a councilor in regional and/or local mass media, or an announcement of the meeting must be posted on the official website of the relevant local council.
- Para. 2 of Art. 38 (concerning the meeting of the action group) shall be supplemented with the requirement: “A decision shall be deemed adopted if upheld by two-thirds of the voters present at the meeting”.
- It is necessary to minimize the political influence of territorial election commissions by depriving them of the right to verify the collected signatures. This task shall be committed to the bodies of the State Register of Voters, accordingly changing their powers, as well as specifying the law enforcement body to be involved in checking 10% of the collected signatures as well as the ways of this involvement.
- The Law of Ukraine “On the State Register of Voters” and the Law of Ukraine “On National Police” shall be amended to establish the obligation to verify the authenticity of information about citizens contained in the signatures sheet in support of the proposal to recall the local councilor on public initiative and selective verification of voters’ signatures by the State Register of Voters and Police, as well as the procedure for such verification.
- The Law “On the Status of Local Councilor” shall stipulate that local councilors may be recalled by the voters of the electoral district where the councilor was elected/appointed rather than the voters of the entire multi-mandate constituency; the required number shall be set at the level of the electoral quotient +1 vote.
For additional information, please contact Iryna Cherpak at tel.: +38067 242 80 91.
Preparation of the analytical materials is a part of a project implemented by the NGO Agency of Legislative Initiatives with the support of USAID RADA Program: Responsible Accountable Democratic Assembly, implemented by East Europe Foundation.