The last year has been marked by critical changes in the rules of party building in Ukraine. Owing to the pressure of the public and the international partners, as well as active involvement of the MPs-reformists, the rules of financing political parties have been changed – new regulations not only stipulate control over the party’s budget, but also considerably restrict the influence of the party sponsors. Year 2016 should have become the first year to lay down the foundation for these new rules. There opens a window of opportunity to transform the fan clubs of the leaders and quasi-party formations dependent on the oligarchs into real parties based on the European model. Election with open list system, with the right of the voters to choose not only the party, but its representatives could definitely have facilitated this process. Instead, the politicians have introduced the so-called ‘majoritarian party system’ at the local level, depriving one third of the electoral districts of their representatives in the local councils.
Still, the appetites of the owners of party brands have not been satisfied – in late 2015, two draft laws were introduced with the aim of limiting party democracy, establishing control of the party leaders over the representatives of party units in the local authorities (draft law “On the status of deputies of the local councils” (regarding recall of the deputies of the local councils) under Reg. No. 3693), and proving the party leaders with the instruments to review after the election the lists of candidates to the Verkhovna Rada, which had already been agreed upon, and exclude ‘the unwanted’ from the lists (draft law on amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On election of the Members of the Ukrainian Parliament” (regarding exclusion of the candidates to the Ukrainian Parliament from an election list in a multi-mandate electoral district) under Reg. No. 3700). It is telling that these initiatives are authored by the leaders of the faction coalition with an eloquent title “European Ukraine.” They actually create a mechanism for eliminating ‘the unwanted’ both locally and nationally. Had such rules existed in the time of election, no reformists and professional lawmakers would have been elected to the Parliament.
The experts of the Reanimation Package of Reforms stress: the intention to establish a dictatorship of the party leaders has nothing in common with the notion of a party discipline as it is understood in Europe, while the pressure exerted on the MPs, so that they adopted the draft law Reg. No. 3693 as a whole and put the draft law Reg. No. 3700 on the agenda, demonstrates that negative trends existing during the presidency of Yanukovych are coming back to life.
After the Revolution of Dignity, the party process in Ukraine shall be open and transparent, with professional discussion of the policy contents, not the dictatorship of the owners of party brands.