The electoral systems based on which the Ukrainian elections are held do not facilitate rotation of political elites and lead to abuse of administrative resources and vote buying. While the political parties represented in the parliament have declared the need in shifting to the open list proportional electoral system for parliamentary elections and local council elections, the respective provisions of the Coalition Agreement are yet to be implemented. Further, there is no systematic dialogue between the politicians and experts on the prospects of the introduction of the open list proportional electoral system and its substance. Despite the permanent changes of the laws governing the elections in Ukraine, the current electoral legal framework fails to address the OSCE/ODIHR and Venice Commission’s recommendations for its improvement, neither does it reflect the best European practices..
Despite the significant number of criminal cases against those who committed the election-related crimes, the majority of such cases were closed before the court hearings, while those which survived until court hearings ended up with acquittal verdicts or very soft punishments. The legal framework fails to provide for the sanctions for many violations (including distribution of the goods and services in relation to the election campaigning). As a result, election-related crimes mostly go unsanctioned, something that creates an incentive to repeatedly commit the crimes during the next elections.
The Central Election Commission with the expired terms of the most of its members still remains an issue. During the last several years, the experts have repeatedly called for replacing 12 out of the 15 CEC members, whose terms in office expired in June 2014, by the new members suggested with due consideration of the names put forward by the party factions in the Parliament and civil society organizations specializing in electoral reform issues. In early June 2016, the President of Ukraine has officially proposed a slate of 11 (out of the 12 to be replaced) names to be approved by the legislature. However, the suggested slate of the nominees ignored the interests of a number of the party factions in the Parliament. Non-transparency of the process of replacing the CEC members, whose terms in office have expired years ago, as well as delays in appointments of new CEC members, is unacceptable from both the political and legal standpoints. The replacement of the CEC members with expired terms by the new commissioners through the inclusive and transparent procedure is a key precondition for ensuring independence and integrity of the Election Management Body, increased confidence of the politicians and society in general in the Commission, as well as to more fruitful cooperation between the Commission and the public.
The Central Election Commission fails to maintain close interaction with the citizens. A number of CEC decisions have been strongly criticized by the public and experts (e.g., attempts to cancel the second round of mayoral election in Pavlohrad, de-facto repeal of the legally established gender quotas for the party lists etc.). These decisions have had a negative impact on public confidence in the Commission. Building close cooperation between the CEC, expert community and public in general could contribute to strengthening public confidence in the CEC.