New 'new' Election Code - which system will be used in future Ukrainian elections?

Peculiarities of electoral system for parliamentary elections

The Election Code suggests to use an open-list proportional representation system for organization of parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Voters will be able to vote for a party and, additionally, for a certain candidate in regional list of this party. Only parties that overcome the 5% national threshold will be eligible to participate in the distribution of parliamentary seats.

Territorial election administration

Parliamentary elections are held in single national multi-mandate district, which covers the whole Ukrainian territory and foreign constituency. Voting takes place in 27 electoral regions, which are created with consideration of administrative and territorial structure of Ukraine, and whose boundaries mostly coincide with the boundaries of oblasts. Exceptions are Dnipropetrovsk oblast and the city of Kyiv (that also includes the foreign constituency), which have two electoral regions each. Instead, Kherson oblast forms a single electoral region (Southern) with the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. 

It is possible that a part of the electoral region will not participate in holding of an election, while the certain territories hold a status of temporarily occupied. Thus, voters will be able to realise their voting rights by changing a voting location without changing of an election address. In its turn, the CEC is obliged to determine the results of parliamentary elections, regardless of the quantity of polling stations and territorial districts where the voting was not organized and held. Thus, all territories of Ukraine will have a formal representation in parliament. 

Nomination of candidates

The right to nominate candidates in parliamentary elections is reserved exclusively to political parties, and there is no possibility of self-nomination. Nomination of MP candidates, formation and approval of electoral lists is realized be a party at its congress (meeting, conference). A political party can nominate a person, who is either affiliated to this party, or is unaffiliated.

Each party forms two types of lists: a national list (comprising under 450 candidates) and regional lists comprising the same candidates in each of 27 electoral regions (must include at least 5 candidates, and not more than 17). Therefore, every candidate in a national party list (except for the first nine numbers) must be included in one of the regional lists. At the same time, a candidate can not be included in a national party list more than once, and in more than one regional list. 

MP candidates, who hold places from one to nine in a national party list must not be included in any of the regional lists. Parties determine the priority of all candidates in both national and regional lists at a congress. When forming their lists, parties must keep the gender balance, ensuring there are at least two persons of the same sex in each five candidates. Monetary pledge for parties, which nominate the list of MP candidates, is one thousand minimum wages.

Ballot form

Text of the ballot paper contains a list and numbers of all parties participating in an election (placed in the order determined by the draw of lots), and an empty box next to each party name. A list of the first nine candidates in electoral list of a given party and the list of names and numbers of candidates from the corresponding regional electoral list of the party (from five to seventeen persons) are placed under name of each party. The bottom of ballot paper contains text in uppercase "From organization of the party I gave vote for, I support MP candidate" with a checkbox to the right containing "#" and empty space to fill in the number of MP candidate from the regional list.

Thus, a voter votes for a party at first, and then for a certain MP candidate from this party he/she supports in addition. Voting for a party is mandatory, otherwise the ballot is considered invalid. At the same time, if a voter votes for the regional party list but did not support a particular candidate from that list, the vote is valid. In other words, voting for a particular candidate is optional. 

Distribution of mandates

Only parties that receive 5% of valid votes or more in the single multi-mandate district, participate in the distribution of parliamentary mandates. All these parties receive nine mandates, which are divided based on the sequence number in national electoral list of a given party.

There are several stages of tabulation and distribution of mandates between parties. Main of them are the following: determination of electoral quotas (number of votes requires to receive one mandate), determination of the number of mandates that a party receives, and determination of winners firstly in regional lists and then in the national district.

Step 1. Determination of total valid votes for all parties that overcome electoral threshold. To do this, the total number of votes given for these parties in all electoral regions is calculated. 

Step 2. Determination of the election quota. To calculate the quota, the total number of votes given for lists of parties that overcame the threshold is divided by the total number of parliamentary mandates, not counting the guaranteed mandates (9 per each party that overcame the threshold). 

If we take the last parliamentary elections as an analogy, the calculation of election quota would be the following: five parties overcame the threshold (5%) and received 11,448,549 votes; the parliament comprises 450 MPs, after subtracting 9 guaranteed mandates received by these parties each, we get 405 vacant mandates; thus, the election quota in Ukraine would be a little more that 28 thousand votes (11,448,549/405=28,268). This would be a price for parliamentary mandate in the national district.

Step 3. Determination of parliamentary mandates, received by each party in regional electoral districts. To do this, the number of votes given for the party in an election region is divided by the electoral quota. The whole number received would be the number of mandates, received by MP candidates in the given regional list of the party. 

A side effect of such procedure would be dependance between activeness of the voters and representation of each region in parliament. Thus, the higher the voter turnout the bigger representation of the region in parliament. If the last parliamentary elections were held under this system, 25 MPs would be elected in Lwiw oblast (turnout - 53.4%), and Zakarpattia oblast with twice less voters would receive only 8 MPs (turnout - 41.1%). An alternative allocation of seats in electoral regions based on the number of registered voters, instead of the turnout itself, would guarantee more proportional representation of regions. 

Step 4. Determination of the list of candidates, who received mandates in regional electoral districts. A rating-based regional electoral list of candidates from each party is formed on this stage in the corresponding electoral region. Thus, the list has two parts. The upper part contains only candidates who received more than one-fourth of votes (25%) of the election quota, enlisted in descending order of the percentage. The bottom part of the list contains all the other candidates, enlisted by the number determined by parties during nomination. Each election district receives the number of party candidates elected from the regional list based on their sequence, equal to the number of mandates a party received. 

If such approach was used in 2019 parliamentary elections, a candidate from regional list would need to get at least 7 thousand (one fourth of the electoral quota) votes in the given oblast (or part of oblast, in case it's Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts) to get elected. Such regulation is not an excessive restriction, provided that voters will actively use an option of voting for a certain candidate. Otherwise, candidates will be elected based on priority established by the party. 

Step 5. Determining the number of seats to be distributed in the national district. The number of mandates that are subject to distribution in national electoral district is gained by subtracting the number of seats that are guaranteed for the first 9 candidates in party lists from the total number of parliamentary mandates 450. In 2019 parliamentary elections, this number would be 405 (450 - 45 seats). 

Step 6. Determination of the total number of mandates, distributed in each electoral region. The CEC summarises the number of mandates, received by MP candidates, who are included in regional electoral lists of all parties in each electoral region. In 2019 parliamentary elections, this number would be 344 (see table for details).

Step 7. Determination of the number of residual mandates in national district. The number of residual mandates that are subject to distribution in national electoral district is gained by subtracting the number of seats that are already distributed in electoral regions (step 6) from the total number of parliamentary mandates, which are subject to distribution at the national level (step 5). In 2019 parliamentary elections, this number would be 61 seats (405 - 344 = 61).

Step 8. Determination of the number of unused votes. Firstly, the CEC determines the number of unused votes cast for regional party lists (separately for each party participating in the distribution of seats). For this purpose, the election quota is multiplied by the number of seats already received by the party in the election region. The difference between the total number of voters cast in support of the corresponding regional list of the party and the number just received is the number of unused votes. The CEC then determines the total number of unused votes cast in support of the regional party lists. 

Step 9. Determination of the number of MP mandates, received by each party at the national level. To do this, divide the total number of unused votes (Step 8) by the election quota. The whole number received would be the number of mandates, received by candidates in national list of the given party. Fractional part (three digits after the decimal separator) is also taken into account in distribution of parliamentary mandates. Parties that have the biggest fractional parts receive an additional mandate (the procedure continues until there are not mandates left). If fractional parts in two or more electoral lists of candidates from parties are equal, the additional mandate goes first to electoral list of a party, which received bigger number of votes in the national district. Calculation for 2019 parliamentary elections: each party that overcame the electoral threshold would receive 11-13 seats (61 seats in total).

Step 10. Determination of the list of candidates, elected in the national district. Candidates chosen by the party are considered elected as MPs based on their sequence in the national electoral list of this party. At the same time, candidates, who are already elected in the corresponding electoral regions, do not participate in distribution of mandates in the national district.

Thus, the electoral system partially allows voters to influence the order of mandate distribution between the certain party candidates and their chances of getting into the parliament. This is the fundamental feature of open-list system. At the same time, the authors of draft law provided several options of getting candidates from the national list into the parliament based on the sequence determined by the party: 1) guaranteed mandates for the first nine candidates from the party list; 2) distribution of residual mandates on the national level; 3) if voters ignore the option of voting for a certain candidate in electoral region. OPORA has modelled the results of parliamentary elections based on this system, and discovered that voters would not have a direct influence on the distribution of around one third of mandates (106 of 450). Besides that, each party that has overcome the 5% electoral threshold could expect to get 20-22 people into the parliament in the order it had determined. 

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