Promoting Impartial, Transparent and Principled Delimitation in Ukraine

Publication Date: 
11 Aug 2011

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The Government of Ukraine has proposed a mixed electoral system with 450 members, 225 members elected via list proportional representation (PR) and 225 members elected from constituencies. The PR component of the system will operate using a closed party list and political parties will compete for these seats in a single nationwide constituency. The other 225 seats will be filled via elections in territorially-based single-member constituencies.

Because the List PR seats will not be used to compensate for any disproportionality arising from the constituency seat election results, the single-member constituency component of the electoral system will weigh heavily in the partisan outcome of the parliamentary elections. It is not only possible, but likely, that the election results will not be proportional. In this type of electoral system, the party that receives the most votes often wins a higher proportion of the seats than their proportion of the vote would merit in a pure PR system.

While single-member constituencies can produce disproportional election results – with no compensatory mechanism in place to correct this – they offer voters a number of advantages, including: (1) a direct link between representatives and their voters that allows voters to hold these representatives accountable; (2) geographically diverse representation (if members of parliament are required to reside in the constituencies that elect them); and (3) some degree of representation for geographically concentrated groups that do not turn out to vote at high levels.

If electoral districts are incorporated into the election system design, however, they must be drawn in a manner that promotes credible and fair elections. Any disproportionality that results from the constituency component of the election should be a consequence only of the type of electoral system and not the product of an overt manipulation of constituency boundaries. Thus the promulgation of a set of rules that will promote politically impartial, transparent and principled delimitation is essential for the legitimacy, fairness and the ultimate success of future parliamentary elections in Ukraine conducted under the proposed system.

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