How the Central Election Commission developed during the 30 years of Ukraine's independence
Originally published on August 8, 2021 on ifesukraine.org.
This year Ukraine celebrates the 30th anniversary of independence. Thirty years of continued democratic development would not have been possible without the functioning of an independent election administration, the Central Election Commission (CEC). After all, transparent, fair and fair elections are the key to the democratic progress of any state. And the task of the CEC is to administer the election process in Ukraine and protect the will of citizens.
The official date of establishment of the independent CEC is considered to be 1997, when the Law on the Central Election Commission was adopted. First of all, he foresaw that the CEC members would be appointed by the Verkhovna Rada on the proposal of the President. And this step has significantly increased the independence of the body.
However, this defining date was preceded by other legislative steps that are worth noting. In particular, the Constitution of Ukraine was adopted in 1996, stipulating that the CEC does not belong to any branch of government. In addition, a special procedure was set for the appointment of members of the Commission, which was to ensure the independence of the body. Eventually, the first CEC was formed, headed by Ivan Yemets.
The first steps of the CEC's cooperation with international partners took place in the 1990s, in particular with IFES. Subsequently, cooperation with IFES was suspended for some time and resumed in 2012.
For almost 10 years, IFES, with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the UK Department of Foreign Affairs and the UK Government, has been assisting the CEC in organizing events and training programs to improve the professionalism of election commission members and ensure effective election administration. In addition, IFES, together with partners, develops, updates and disseminates the necessary reference materials, including training films, manuals, infographics, to make the training of election commission members nationwide interactive and productive.
To increase trust between the CEC, civil society, political parties and the media, IFES conducts joint trainings for all stakeholders to strengthen their interaction and cooperation.
In 2016, IFES together with the CEC established the Center for Management of Election Process Participants (Training Center), which conducts trainings for election participants, develops training and reference materials on procedures on election day, etc.
There have been various periods in the history of the Central Election Commission. However, the CEC is currently only moving forward and fully fulfilling its mandate as an independent election administration body. A number of working groups have been set up within the CEC to improve electoral legislation and electoral processes. The Commission is already preparing for the establishment of its regional and territorial representations, as well as the approval of the Training Center as a full-fledged unit of the institution.
On June 11, 2020, the Central Election Commission approved the first strategic plan for 2020-2025. Long-term strategic planning will help the CEC carry out complex institutional reforms and respond in a timely manner to systemic challenges. And in June 2021, the CEC approved the Anti-Corruption Program for the period 2021-2023, which introduced a set of additional measures to combat corruption in the activities of the Commission.
The CEC's efforts have not gone unnoticed by the international community. In particular, the administration of the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as the 2020 local elections, was duly noted in the reports of international missions and domestic NGOs that observed the elections.
The CEC has come a long way to finally becoming the independent institution that can administer elections and referendums in Ukraine at a high level. However, this should not be overlooked, as it is an ongoing process that IFES, together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ministry of International Affairs of Canada and the UK Government, will be happy to continue supporting. After all, the relentless development of an independent CEC is a catalyst for strengthening democracy in Ukraine.
Published on October 13, 2021.