How is it: to work in the Central Election Commission for 17 years? Interview with CEC Deputy Chairman Serhiy Dubovyk
Originally published on August 20, 2021 on ifesukraine.org.
Serhiy Dubovyk has been in the Central Election Commission (CEC) for 17 years in various positions: CEC member, CEC Secretary, Deputy Head of the CEC Secretariat, and now Deputy CEC Chairman. During all this time, Mr. Dubovik worked with various members of the Commission and observed the continuous development and democratization of the body.
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Ukraine's independence, we spoke with Serhiy Dubovyk about why he loves his job, how the CEC has changed before his eyes, and what challenges it intends to overcome in the future.
You have been working for the CEC for 17 years. Please tell, how and why did you choose the CEC and the electoral sphere as your career / business?
Actually, I did not choose the CEC and the electoral sphere, I even got involved in political activity in independent Ukraine quite by accident. At first, when he entered the university, he dreamed of being a prosecutor. However, these plans changed the 1994 election, when I was asked to help one of my colleagues who was running in the Ukrainian parliamentary elections in the constituency where I lived. Later, I myself was offered to run for the district council, and this is how my path in the electoral sphere began. Already at the age of 23 I became a lawyer of the Social Democratic Party and specialized in election issues. Then I was a representative of the party in the CEC, and since 1995 I have been a member of the Commission. Yakurist of the Social Democratic Party, assistant-consultant of the People's Deputy of Ukraine began to participate in writing sections for making proposals on the election process,
I have been working for the CEC for 17 years with breaks: I was a member of the CEC from 2004 to 2007, then I worked for a short time in the leadership of the Secretariat of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. He was the Deputy Minister for Relations with the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in fact the Parliamentary Secretary. Then - work in the Ministry of Justice from 2008 to 2013 and return to the CEC. Comparing all previous experience, I understand that I love working in the Commission at a high pace. I work fast and I like this style.
Is there a difference between those who came to work for the CEC at the beginning of your career and now?
The age of the employee of the CEC Secretariat has decreased. If at the beginning of my work at the CEC the average age of employees had to be at least 40 years, today preference is given to young people. In particular, because we have to implement many innovations. First of all, we are implementing our strategic plan, which we have developed together with IFES with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ministry of International Affairs of Canada and British assistance from the UK government. We are trying to renew the state institution, to give it a modern breath. Our challenges and tasks require creative approaches. And creativity is where there is new and unbiased thinking, so many people today in the CEC begin their careers.
The activity of the CEC is also interaction with political parties, civil society, and international partners. Please tell, how did it develop?
The CEC, together with political parties, civil society and international partners, has come a long way from confrontation to partnership. Since 1993, the Commission has lived in a regime of betrayal and victory, and has been severely criticized by election observation missions, the public, the international community, and parties. Then the connection was established.
First with political parties, when they began to form district election commissions. Further, the attitude of the civil society towards the CEC gradually changed. Since 2005, after the Orange Revolution, the CEC has been perceived differently by the public, although it was largely composed of the same people. In particular, the OSCE Office in Ukraine has done much to bring our positions closer. Yes, the CEC has started inviting people to public events. And in the 2014 elections, for the first time, instead of criticizing the institution's actions, the public turned to promoting the Commission's activities. CSOs began to participate in the creation of textbooks, educational campaigns, discussions, etc., and the further away, the more the views of the public and the CEC coincided. We have reached a level where we can discuss many things in dialogue rather than consider each other enemies.
The same goes for cooperation with international partners. In the early 1990s, we only began to look closely at each other, and international organizations brought us certain democratic values. I would call the beginning of the 2000s, culminating in 2004, a work on mistakes. We resumed our cooperation with IFES in 2012, and in 2016 we jointly established the Election Management Training Center (Training Center), which conducts trainings for election participants, develops training and reference materials on election day procedures, and more.
And 2019 is considered the apotheosis of cooperation with international organizations, when no one told anyone who was right and who was not. International organizations, representatives of diplomatic missions and the CEC have joined forces to assist Ukraine in defending the presidential and parliamentary elections.
What are the current challenges facing the CEC and what are its immediate plans?
We have to implement everything that is laid down in the Electoral Code of Ukraine, complete the formation of the legal framework for all types of elections and the referendum process.
In addition, our challenge is not to stop. We need to complete everything we started with strategic planning and make it a daily routine.
COVID-19 is a challenge for all types of elections, as it determines the specifics of events during elections and campaigning.
After all, any election is a change, and in any case, it is a challenge. After all, elections are a short-lived process that requires not only organizational measures, but also actions aimed at protecting the will of the Ukrainian people.
I think there is still time to complete the electoral reform. I am sure that she will be successful and achieve her goal. The CEC will be the best, most open, most creative electoral body in Europe. To this end, it is important that all reforms are irreversible. Only in this way will we be able to carry out the main tasks and have guarantees for the further development of democratic processes.
Published on October 13, 2021.