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Index of Consent and Factional Unity of Ukrainian Parliament

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In September, various media often wrote about the majority faction of the Servant of the People. Many of them discussed how the faction leaders and even the President were trying to control how the MPs vote in the Verkhovna Rada. In addition, the lawmakers from other factions and the Servants of the People themselves argued that there may be a rebellion within the ruling faction, if pressure on them intensified.

The draft laws No. 1038 and No. 1045-1 were the most problematic, while giving the right to deprive an MP of his mandate, if he is expelled from the faction. Consideration of this bills has been postponed. However, this means that if the party leader of the Servant of the People decides to return to this issue, we will find new materials and interviews in the media devoted to the party or fractional discipline. But the question remains: did the Servant of the People have any problems with unanimous voting during the first month of the Verkhovna Rada’s work or they simply get out in front of this? Are there any problems with “discipline” in other fractions given that when considering the possibility of voting on the above-mentioned draft laws, the leaders of other fractions did not applaud the possibility of receiving levers of pressure on their colleagues within the fraction. So why do they look at this opportunity differently than the leaders of the Servant of the People? Let’s try to answer these questions.

Methodology

In the materials on the issue of factional unity in the Ukrainian Parliament, one can find, besides the word “unity”, such terms as “discipline“, “consolidation of voting“, “fraction line“, “loyalty”. But what do they really mean? When talking about discipline within fractions, political scientists mostly use the definition given by Ergun Ozbudun: “A set of ways and means available to a leader to encourage disobedient members to take orders and act according to them” and “the regularity with which followers take and act on commands from leaders.”

As it is seen, the issue of “discipline” is always a question of “power”: we have a subject who imposes his will on the object and an object that obeys the will of the subject. This is the problem of the term “discipline”. We can only use it when a person does not want to perform certain actions. In practice, when examining voting in parliaments, it is not possible to clearly distinguish in which cases a particular parliamentarian voted in some way, because of a positive / negative stimulus from, say, a faction leader, and where voting is a result of approval or loyalty. Therefore, in political science, quantitative measurements instead of “party / fractional discipline” use the term “party / fractional unity” which considers the unanimity of voting without delineating how this unanimity was achieved. As often as party discipline, in Ukraine consolidated voting is mentioned which is defined by voting against the party line when “the MP does not vote like the majority of the faction or group to which he or she belongs.” Unlike the party unity, which measures how big the gap between alternatives is and draws conclusions from the unanimity of the vote, the consolidation of the vote demonstrates what percentage of MPs do not support the pre-determined faction line. Although at first it may appear to be almost synonymous definitions, in practice research results show no correlation between these indicators.

The mathematical measurement of party unity and voting consolidation differs no less than their linguistic content. To calculate the consolidation, the percentage of the MP’s vote against the line of the faction is equal to the alternative voted by 50% + 1 MP from that faction. From a methodological point of view, this means that in order to calculate an alternative that would gain 50% + 1 vote, the difference in voting for different alternatives should be significant, since it would not be possible to calculate the fraction line between the two alternatives. Party unity does not have such a problem since all alternatives are equivalent from the beginning.

There are many methods to calculate the party unity, the two most popular of which are Rice’s Index and Index of Consent. The first is obtained by calculating the difference between the number of votes in favor and against the sum of votes in favor and against. The index has a value of “1” when all members of a particular party vote equally, which can mean both unity in support of a particular bill and unity in voting against it. The closer the value to “0”, the less the unity of the party. The Rice Index has already been used to calculate the unity of factions in the Ukrainian Parliament; however, as the authors of the study noted, it is not suitable for the Ukrainian Parliament, since it only takes votes in favor and against, whereas there is a popular option in the Verkhovna Rada known as “abstained”.

In calculating party unity, this article proposes to use the Index of Consent which is less sensitive to the shortcomings of the previous methods and the best alternative currently available in political science in the context of Ukrainian parliamentary research. It is calculated according to the following formula: from the sum of votes cast for, against and abstained by a certain faction, the difference between the maximum among the three alternatives is taken, half of that number is subtracted from the maximum among the three alternatives. We set the proportion between the number received and the number of votes cast for all alternatives.

The index of consent is equal to 1 when the group of legislators votes as a single bloc and equals to 0 when the group is equally divided between all three of these voting options. As Simon Hix, author of the Index of Consent, notes, “if a party is split between 10 votes in favor, 10 votes against and 100 votes abstained, the Rice Index will evaluate the party as fully divided (0,000), then as our index will show that the party is relatively unanimous in voting (0.750). ” Although, since the voting data sets in the Verkhovna Rada include the “no vote” alternative, the need to combine the alternatives remains, which may partially distort the figures.

Results of the analysis

During the two months of work of the new Verkhovna Rada (August-September), MPs voted on 548 plenary issues. Most of them are of a purely formal nature, such as voting to reduce the introduction of alternative bills, instructing the committee responsible to consider the draft etc. These issues are important for the work of the Verkhovna Rada, but for the most part, they do not give rise to specific discussions within the factions regarding their support, and therefore have the potential to distort the unity index to higher values.

For the August-September count, a sample of 160 votes was drawn concerning consideration of bills subject to submission by the President of Ukraine, appointment decisions (such as appointment to the post of Minister), bills related to amendments to the Constitution, and other bills voted on as a whole. Voting data were taken from Rada4You portal.

(table 1)

Name Index of Consent

(arithmetic mean)

Servant of the People 0,94
Opposition Platform – For Life 0,73
European Solidarity 0,81
Fatherland 0,78
Voice (Holos) 0,85
Deputy Group “For the Future” 0,68

 

The data showed that in a certain period the Servant of the People faction had the highest unanimity vote. While the “For the Future” deputies’ group has the lowest figure, it is also higher than average. It is interesting to note that, despite the tendency of the above Index to slightly overstating the small factions, it is exactly the largest faction with 252 MPs on board that has almost the perfect index of factional unity.

In addition to the fact that the average of the Index of Consent is the highest in the Servant of the People, the faction also has the highest minimum value of the Index compared to the “worst” indicator of the other factions. From the box plot of the chart, it becomes clear that the interquartile scale is the smallest in the presidential faction, and therefore, the unity of the faction in the vote is not so different from each other than in other factions with a larger quartile.

At the same time, it is the president’s faction that has the largest number of the so-called “emissions” – data that are significantly different from the overall data set. In particular, such “emissions” in the Servant of the People include the Rating vote on the election of the People’s Deputy Dzhemilev M. as the Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The Unity Index of the Servant of the People was 0.74 (6 – for, 203 – did not vote/abstained, 36 – against) and the vote “On the Draft Law on Amendments to Some Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Improving the Protection of the Rights to Build Semiconductor Products (No. 1062) – in the second reading and in general – 0,73 (191 – for, 42 – did not vote/abstained, 0 – against). Regarding the latest vote, the media Novoe Vremya wrote about the creation of a separate group in the faction the Servant of the People under the leadership of MP Elijah Pavlyuk, whose business interests the bill could concern.

Other “emissions” in the fraction can be conditionally divided into “yes vs not voted / abstained”, “yes vs not voted / abstained vs”, “not voted / abstained vs”. The first category, in addition to voting No. 1062, also includes voting No. 1055 (Index of Agreement 0.82), 1047 (Index of Agreement 0.82), 2004 (Index of Agreement 0.83). The second category covers the Rating vote “On the election of MP Konstankevich. Deputy Chairman of The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine” 9 – for, 208 – did not vote/abstained, 32 – against, Index of Agreement – 0.75). The last group included the Rating vote on the election of People’s Deputy  Shufrych. Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine where the servants of the people cast 0 votes in favor, 82 – did not vote/abstain, 167 – against, and the general Index of Agreement – 0.51.

As you can see, in the case of low unity, it is important to pay attention to the distribution of votes between alternatives and to consider each case individually, taking into account the context in which the voting took place. The lowest Index of Consent of the Servants of the People for the appointment of Shufrych may indicate that the deputies were unanimous in their unwillingness to see Shufrych as Deputy Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, since “abstaining” here means “against.” At the same time, the question arises, if the party’s position was to vote against, why did some MPs decide to press the abstention button? A similar case is observed in the European Solidarity in voting for draft law No 1009 submitted by the President, the votes were distributed: 0 – for, 7 – did not vote/abstained, 7 – against, Index of Agreement – 0.25.

The Voice has a different situation. This faction has two pairs of symmetric votes with the same Index of Consent: 0.37 and 0.29. In the first pair, it is about voting for the consideration of the short-procedure procedure of the draft law “On the special procedure for removal of the President of Ukraine from office (impeachment)” (No. 1012) (1 – for, 7 – did not vote/abstained, 11 – against) and voting on the draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Certain Issues of Exercise of Weight and Weight Control (No. 1047)” (11 – for, 7 – did not vote/abstained, 1 – against). In the second pair, “On the inclusion in the agenda of draft laws on amendments to the Rules of Procedure of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the introduction of electronic document flow related to the legislative process No 1044, No 1044-1)” (10 – for, 9 – did not vote/abstained, 0 – against) and “On the inclusion in the agenda of draft laws on amendments to some laws of Ukraine on ensuring openness and transparency of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (№1036, №1036-1)” (9 – for, 10 – did not vote/abstained, 0 against).

Frequency histograms reveal another interesting pattern: in the fraction with the highest Index of Consent – the smallest number of votes with perfect unanimity (i.e., where the Index of Agreement is unity). The highest number of votes with a perfect unity score in the Voice (Holos) – 54 and European Solidarity – 52.

The following table shows the Indexes of Consent (within fractions) with regard to the bills submitted by the President of Ukraine (with a sample of such bills being 30).

(table 2)

Name Index of Consent

(arithmetic mean)

Servant of the People 0,96
Opposition Platform – For Life 0,81
European Solidarity 0,86
Fatherland 0,83
Voice (Holos) 0,92
Deputy Group “For the Future” 0,80

 

Among the bills submitted by Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the level of unanimity in voting in all factions is higher than in the general sample of votes. It should be reiterated here that, although strange, the Index of Agreement does not show the agreement of parliamentarians on the issue under consideration. That is, if we say that the level of agreement of the European Solidarity faction in the vote for the bills submitted by the President is 0.86, that does not mean that they supported these bills. On the contrary, in the case of European Solidarity, this rather indicates that, in most cases, they unanimously voted for one of the alternatives: “against” or “abstained / not voted,” not “for.” The results provided in the second table show that the issues raised by the President cause fewer differences in faction than voting without being tied to the subject of the submission.

Compared to the first sample, the interquartile range and minimum of all fractions decreased. The minimum threshold for the Index has decreased in European Solidarity and Voice. The same fractions, as in the first graph, show “emissions” again. Among the votes initiated by the President of Ukraine, the Servant of the People faction was the least united in the consideration of the draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Delaying the Application of Penalties for Violation of the Procedure of Importing Vehicles into the Customs Territory of Ukraine (No. 1030). )” (Index of Agreement – 0.86, for – 218, not voted / abstained – 22, against – 0).

In “Voice” and “European Solidarity,” “emissions” by votes # 1012 and 1009 from this sample are duplicated by “ejection” from the general sample since the bills submitted by the President are included in the total voting power. The other two “emissions” in “European Solidarity” refer to two votes on one bill “On Amendments to the Law of Ukraine “On Defense of Ukraine”, 21 deputies voted for the basis in this faction, 3 – did not vote / absent, 0 – against, so the overall Index of Agreement is 0.81. In the second reading and in general, the same bill was already supported by 15 deputies, 10 – did not vote/abstained, 0 – against, and consequently the Index of Agreement decreased to 0.4.

With regard to the frequency with which the factions reached maximum unity, the trend in the total sample is fully maintained: the lowest number of votes with perfect unanimity is in the Servant of the People, the Voice and the European Solidary have the highest number of votes with the ideal indicator of unity.

October results

In order to compare, last month the Verkhovna Rada considered 458 votes. Of these, 96 were included in the total sample.

Name Index of Consent

(arithmetic mean) for October

Dynamics (compared to August)
Servant of the People 0,92 -0,02
Opposition Platform – For Life 0,70 -0,03
European Solidarity 0,77 -0,04
Fatherland 0,75 -0,03
Voice (Holos) 0,87 +0,02
Deputy Group “For the Future” 0,60 -0,08

 

For most of the factions, except the Voice, the Unity Index dropped slightly, but the ranking position of all factions remained unchanged. In the October box plot chart, the interquartile span has increased slightly, although they do not seem to be significant. As in September, there are several “emissions” in the servants of the People and the Voice. On the vote “On the draft Resolution on the appointment of Miroshnychenko Y.R. for the post of a member of the Central Election Commission (№2223)” the index of Agreement of the Servant of the People” was at 0.76 (197 – for, 26 – did not vote/abstained, 11 – against). On the Vote “On the Draft Law on Amendments to Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine and the Declaration of Expiration of the Law of Ukraine“ On the List of Documents of Permissive Character in the Field of Business Activity on Acceleration of Deregulation in the Business Area (No. 1067)” the Presidential faction demonstrated greater unity at 0.81 (3 in favor, 211 not in favor / abstention, 28 in favor).

Three more critically low unity figures for this faction were identified in a rather resonant vote “On the Draft Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code of Ukraine (concerning criminal liability of the People’s Deputies of Ukraine for non-personal voting)” (№1127)” (7 – for, 200 – not voted / abstained, 29 – against, Index of Agreement – 0.77), “On the Draft Resolution on the Establishment of the Interim Investigation Commission of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the Investigation of Facts of Mass Riots in Odesa, held on May 2, 2014 and have caused grave consequences, as well as improper performance by law enforcement agencies of their duties in the field of law enforcement” (№2198) (32 – for, 167 – did not vote/abstained, 36 – against, Index of Agreement 0,57), “On granting consent for arrest of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine Yaroslav V. Dubnevych” (208 – for, 35 – did not vote/abstained, 0 – against, Index of Agreement – 0.78 ). Voting in the two emissions is more related to a large number of non-voting deputies. Interestingly, the Servants of the People again have no votes with the perfect Index of Agreement.

In October, the number of draft laws initiated by the President of Ukraine is much smaller than in September. Only 8. In addition to the Fatherland and for the Future, the indicators of the unity of other factions decreased. This is especially evident should we consider the example of the Opposition Platform – For Life, whose figures fell from 0.81 to 0.53, which is, at the same time, lower than the fraction’s total sample in October by 1.23. Other factions continue to show a higher unity when compared to non-voting votes.

(table 4)

Name Index of Consent

(arithmetic mean) for October

Dynamics (compared to August)
Servant of the People 0,94 -0,02
Opposition Platform – For Life 0,53 -0,28
European Solidarity 0,79 -0,07
Fatherland 0,84 +0,01
Voice (Holos) 0,87 -0,05
Deputy Group “For the Future” 0,83 +0,03

 

In conclusion, during the first three months of the Verkhovna Rada’s work, the presidential faction, despite its size, shows very high levels of unity during the voting, especially with regard to the votes for the bills submitted by Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Given that prior to the Parliament’s launch, there were different reports in media with regard to the methods used to maintain the factional discipline in the Servant of the People, we can assume that they influenced the unanimity of the vote. At the same time, the greater number of maximum values ​​on the Index, which are obtained by fractions with a lower average unity, may indicate that the methods of maintaining the discipline in other parliamentary factions, unlike the Servant of the People, are situational rather than permanent. The benefit of this is also evidenced by the fact that over time, party unity decreases rather than grows.

The higher the Index of Consent of the factions with regard to the bills submitted by the President is likely to be the result of such factions considering them as more important, and, therefore, they are making greater efforts to unanimously vote for such bills. In contrast, the fall in unity in October results against those in September could indicate both a continuation of the general trend of decrease in the unity of voting (regardless of who submits a draft law) and, as in the case of the Opposition Platform – For Life, about the formation of two camps – supporters and opponents of the President. However, the imperfection of quantitative measurement methods, whether fractional unity or fractional consolidation, still requires separate consideration of individual cases taking into account the context of the vote.

Polina Bondarenko, Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiates Foundation

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