On 13 October 2020, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky published a video message on the official Facebook page of the Office of the President of Ukraine where he announced his intention to hold a nationwide poll on the day of the local elections, 25 October 2020, on the five questions without defining them.
According to Article 19 of the Constitution of Ukraine, state authorities, local self-government bodies, and their officials are obliged to act only on the basis, within the powers, and in the manner prescribed by the Constitution and laws of Ukraine. To date, there is no legal basis for organization and execution of any nationwide polls (de facto consultative referendums) by any authorities or their officials, or for the combination of such initiatives with regular or snap elections. According to Article 106 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the powers of the President of Ukraine are determined exclusively by the Constitution of Ukraine. The Constitution does not allow the Head of State to announce or appoint popular polls (except in case of announcing a nationwide referendum on the people’s initiative at the request of at least three million citizens of Ukraine who are eligible to vote).
The Constitution of Ukraine stipulates that expression of popular will is carried out through elections, referendums, and other forms of direct democracy (Article 69), however, the organization and procedure of elections and referendums are determined exclusively by law (paragraph 20 of the Article 92). Draft Law 3612 on democracy through all-Ukraine referendum submitted by the President of Ukraine was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on 18 June 2020 only in the first reading. This draft law does not provide for the possibility of conducting such polls, and there is no separate legislative initiative to regulate the execution of nationwide polls.
At the same time, we emphasize that consultation in the form of a nationwide poll is a vital mechanism of studying voters’ opinion. However, the effective democratic application of this instrument of democracy requires a clear and legally determined procedure. True democracy rests on a transparent and legally defined process, not an imitation of the instruments of popular sovereignty that could lead to manipulation of the democratic institutions.
Proclamation of a nationwide poll twelve days before the day of local elections without a law regulating the procedure for preparing and conducting such a poll is illegitimate in terms of its initiation and organization, as well as capable of undermining the credibility of the results of such a poll and their use.
In view of the aforementioned, the Reanimation Package of Reforms Coalition calls for:
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