Reanimation package of reforms > News > Columns > When is the next parliamentary election?

When is the next parliamentary election?

At a press marathon on November 26, the President of Ukraine noted that the Constitutional Court of Ukraine should determine the date of the next regular parliamentary elections.  As a constitutionalist, this position surprised me because the date of the next parliamentary elections is clearly defined in the Basic Law of Ukraine. We open the first part of Article 77 of the Constitution and read: “Regular elections to the Verkhovna Rada take place on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the Verkhovna Rada.” In fact, to determine the date, we need to count and determine the fifth year of the current convocation of the Verkhovna Rada, provided that we know the beginning of its term. This is August 29, 2019 – a non-standard start of parliamentary powers for our country, as for the first time in the history of independent Ukraine, early elections to the Verkhovna Rada took place in the summer (i.e., July 21, 2019).

So let’s calculate, based on the rules of mathematics:

Answer: The last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the Verkhovna Rada’s term of office is  October 29, 2023.

I want to end this, but in Ukraine, as a country of still unstable democracy, this is not the case. A key point to reveal: why is the issue of holding the next parliamentary elections debatable, and the guarantor of the Constitution does not want to see an answer in the direct norm of the Basic Law of Ukraine?

Unfortunately, the answer is disappointing. In a low constitutional culture of both government and society, the Constitution often fails to retain power within the powers provided by this legislation. To explain unconstitutional actions, the authorities are beginning to try to distort the content of constitutional norms by interpreting the provisions of the Constitution.  To do this, the political authorities need to have a “manually-controlled” Constitutional Court of Ukraine, as only the latter’s authority is to provide a final official interpretation of the Constitution. And the thesis of the President of Ukraine about the need for the Constitutional Court to determine the date of the next parliamentary elections is becoming clearer, although the latter has no authority to call regular or early parliamentary elections. I would like to warn the incumbent President against using such shameful practices of previous Ukrainian presidents and remind that even in the case of “successful” political pressure on the CCU and obtaining a politically motivated decision, this often did not lead to a quick, politically desirable result. And in the future, it caused the political defeat.

The following situations are most clearly recorded in the decisions of the CCU:

– ” third term ” for President Leonid Kuchma (decision of the CCU in the case of the term of office of the President of Ukraine of December 25, 2003);

– “The next regular session of parliament is any session ” for the opportunity to adopt constitutional changes on decentralization, initiated by President Petro Poroshenko (CCU decision of March 15, 2016).

I cannot fail to mention President Viktor Yanukovych’s insane pressure on the Constitutional Court in 2010 to obtain a  decision of the CCU  to amend the Constitution of Ukraine and return to the 1996 version with stronger presidential powers in the mechanism of state power (CCU decision of September 10, 2010). Let me remind you: on the eve of this decision, five CCU judges abruptly resigned “of their own accord,” the court received new CCU judges, and as a result, we had an unconstitutional amendment of the Constitution and an attempt to usurp power… Revolution of Dignity and Human Victims.

Given these striking examples of modern Ukrainian constitutionalism, I propose to look at the current President’s actions in forming the CCU:  removal of CCU judges without constitutional powers,  dismissal of CCU judges without constitutional powers, and completion of the appointment of two CCU judges to non-existent vacancies. Positions under the quota of the President of Ukraine. The latter should not be painted; it was well done by the CCU in its decision, then he was able to protect himself today from unconstitutional interference in the activities of the President. In particular, the CCU decided to convene special plenary sessions of the CCU to take the oath of office of judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine appointed by the President of Ukraine by decrees of November 26, 2021 №596 / 2021 and 597/2021, after the termination of office or dismissal on the grounds specified in Article 149 1 of the  Constitution of Ukraine, judges of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, appointed by the President of Ukraine for the period 2013-2018.

Let us return to the question of the date of the next parliamentary elections, namely, to the possibility of distorting the constitutional regulation of the issue of holding parliamentary elections. The catch, in this case, is the provision of part five of Article 76 of the Constitution that the term of office of the Verkhovna Rada is five years. However, these provisions must first be interpreted in the light of the already cited provisions of the first part of Article 77 of the Constitution, that “regular elections to the Verkhovna Rada shall take place on the last Sunday of October of the fifth year of the Verkhovna Rada.” The introduction of a five-year term of the Verkhovna Rada is based on the position of the absence of a parliamentary crisis and the election of parliament in the next elections. In this case, the term of office of parliament varies by about five years. In the event of early termination of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the election of the next Verkhovna Rada in early elections, as a rule, the term of parliament will be shorter (except for early elections in late September – early October).

So today, when the powers of the parliament of the current convocation started on August 29, 2019, as a result of early parliamentary elections, the actual term of office of the Verkhovna Rada of the IX convocation in accordance with the Constitution will be slightly more than four years. Instead, it is important to note that supporters of the formal reference only to the constitutional provisions on the five-year term of parliament and, consequently, the next parliamentary elections on the last Sunday of October 2024 fail because then the Verkhovna Rada is again not identical to five years. Is longer than five years by about four months. Based on electoral democracy, increasing the term of office is a threat to democracy.

So, in conclusion, we can say that the question of the difficulty of determining the date of the next parliamentary elections is dictated by the natural desire of the authorities to go beyond their powers, in particular by extending the term of the current parliament by one year.

Yulia Kyrychenko, member of the board of the Center for Policy and Legal Reforms, for ZN.UA.

TOP