On March 19, 48 MPs from the ruling majority appealed to the Constitutional Court to give official interpretation of the provisions of the Article 136, the Part 3 of the Article 141 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the paragraph 1 of the Article 14 of the law of Ukraine on the election of deputies of the Verkhovna Rada, of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, local councils and village, town and city mayors".
The authors of the appeal explained that there were several ways to define constitutional grounds for holding regular local elections within the terms determined by the Constitution of Ukraine.
Early elections for Kyiv City Council deputies and Kyiv mayor were held in late May 2008. The five-year term of their powers expires at the end of May 2013. On June 1, 2012, Leonid Chernovetsky resigned as Kyiv mayor. Kyiv City Council appointed Secretary of Kyiv City Council Halyna Hereha as acting mayor. The opposition stated its intention to block the work of Kyiv City Council from June, as the term of its office will expire, and it will be illegitimate.
ForUm has asked MPs and experts on how expedient the decision of the Constitutional Court is in this situation:
Oleh Makhnitski, MP ("Freedom" faction), first deputy chairman of the parliamentary committee on supremacy of law and justice:
- We cannot agree with such decision, because it is unconstitutional. We need to change the situation and look for a way out. The decision of the Constitutional Court creates a stalemate situation.
It is not the first time the Constitutional Court makes controversial decisions. Such decision proves once again that there is no constitutional jurisdiction in Ukraine and that the Constitutional Court follows not the norms of the Constitution but someone's requests. Take for the example the explanation part, which says "prolongation or reduction of terms of powers of local authorities, elected at early elections, is a temporary measure". What does it mean? That we can temporary violate the Constitution?
I believe we can and should use the opinion of the European society and democratic countries as a leverage in this case.
Kost' Bondarenko, expert, political scientist, chairman of the Institute of Ukrainian politics:
- Such decision has been expected. In fact, both the MPs and experts have already come to terms with it. Nobody expected the elections to be held in 2013. The decision is controversial, but it is final and must be observed.
Any decision has its positive and negative sides. As for the negative part, the opposition will have more grounds to doubt every decision taken by the Kyiv Council and speak about illegitimacy of the Council itself. As for the positive side, elections in Kyiv will be finally held simultaneously with local elections countrywide.
Volodymyr Fesenko, political expert, head of the Center for applied political studies "Penta":
- This is the decision of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, the supreme body which has the right to interpret the Constitution, and this decision must be observed. However, even if the decision legalizes the postponement of local elections till 2015, it does not legalize current Kyiv authorities, the Kyiv Council in particular.
No doubts the opposition will not recognize the decision, and many experts will criticize it. Most probably, European and international institutions, including Venice Commission, will criticize it as well. The problem is that the Constitutional Court has not found a compromise for all parties involved to be happy.
The logic of the Court is understandable. Though the Constitution does not say directly, there is a recommendation to hold local elections at the same date countrywide. However, Kyiv does not have a mayor for over a year and will not have for another two. Such situation is not regular and does not meet the norms of the Constitution. In turn, the Kyiv Council will keep working for the next two years, which is an obvious abuse of term limits.
Thus, part of the society and politicians will accept the decision, but another part will stand against it, and the conflict around the Kyiv authorities will remain. As a result, the opposition may block the work of the Kyiv Council, and the capital will live without proper self-government for the next two years.
Volodymyr Makeyenko, head of the Regulations committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, MP from the Party of Regions:
- Any decision of the Constitution Court is not to be discussed but observed. As for the deputy corps, authorities of the Kyiv Council deputies terminate at the moment of administration of the oath by new council members. Thus, in any case Kyiv will not remain without executives. Moreover, I believe on Tuesday we will submit a draft bill on appointment of local elections in accordance with the decision of the Constitutional Court.
For the moment, the Kyiv city head is the chief executive officer in the city and he has been appointed. I believe that before the elections we will have time to amend the law on Kyiv and merge positions and authorities of the head of the Kyiv Council and head of the Kyiv city administration. I am convinced that the merge of positions is necessary and will be accomplished before the elections.
Volodymyr Yavoryvskyi, MP ("Motherland" faction):
- There is no surprise in this decision. The CC judges pretended to study the case, but in fact were thinking about right way to present the decision to public. I am sorry for saying this, but the CC judge babbled something, but nobody knows how regular people are supposed to understand it.
The Constitution says that local authorities are elected every five years. This term is about to expire for the Kyiv Council, meaning it is time to elect new people. But instead the CC prolongs the powers of the Council, which is unlawful. I think all decisions of the Kyiv Council to be adopted after June 2 of this year can be challenged in court and recognized illegitimate.
The only positive side of this decision is that it will help our people to "wake up".
Pavel Rozenko, MP (UDAR faction):
- Such decision was expected. Moreover, this decision is purely political and does not have any references to the Constitutions or laws of Ukraine. The city mayor resigned a year ago and there is nobody to govern Kyiv till 2015. The law says that in this case elections must be held, but the Constitutional Court has ignored this part for some reasons.
It seems the ruling party realizes it will not win Kyiv elections, neither in summer, nor in autumn. Thus, they've decided to wait for better days hoping for the situation to change in their favor.
Taras Berezovets, political strategist, director of the consulting company "Berta Communications":
- The decision was made not following the laws but the logic of deduction. The CC decision says that the Constitutional Court goes on a premise that holding of state and local elections must be rational, meaning they refer not to the laws and norms of the Constitution, but to the concept of rationality as they see it. Moreover, this decision can be used as a reference for other decisions to cancel local elections, in Yalta or Vasylkov, for example, where mayor elections are scheduled for the June 2. It means that elections will not be held in cities where the Party of Regions does not have a flawless victory.
At the same time we must understand that the authorities will never take such controversial decisions without previous estimation of possible reaction of the society and opponents. Thus, this decision has become possible due to inactivity and passive position of the opposition, which did not fight for mayor elections in Kyiv.
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