Constitutional Court May Rule On Election

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s presidential election campaign is set to begin on Monday, but reports suggest the Constitutional Court is about to rule to demand changes to controversial legislation governing the election.

Ukraine Constitutional Court

The launch of the 90-day campaign allows candidates to start registration with the Central Election Commission and to begin nation-wide advertising ahead of the January 17 2010 vote.

But the Constitutional Court, asked by President Viktor Yushchenko last month, is about to rule deeming unconstitutional several clauses of the election legislation, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia weekly reported Saturday.

“According to preliminary information, five clauses of the legislation will be ruled to be unconstitutional,” the weekly reported, citing a person familiar with deliberations.

The ruling, which is supposed to be announced later this week, will put pressure on lawmakers to quickly adopt the changes to the legislation as the presidential campaign is already underway.

The changes must be agreed with Yushchenko in order to make sure the election runs smoothly and the new bills do not face a veto from the president, analysts said.

The legislation was twice rejected by Yushchenko, but has been eventually signed into law by Parliamentary Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who later admitted that parts of the legislation will probably be rejected by the court.

Yushchenko appealed the legislation on Sept. 14.

The legislation gives Tymoshenko and Yanukovych parties – as opposed to public organizations - more power in crucial issues, such as vote counting.

The legislation also makes it extremely difficult to vote by Ukrainians living overseas and allows adding new people to voter lists on the day of the vote, which some analysts said may lead to fraud.

Analysts said the legislation de-facto favors the strongest parties, such as those run by Tymoshenko and Yanukovych, while putting at a disadvantage other candidates, such as Arseniy Yatseniuk, who does not have a strong party behind him.

The Constitutional Court is likely to reject five controversial clauses, including restrictions on voting by Ukrainians living overseas, Dzerkalo Tyzhnia reported.

Also, the court is likely to reject restrictions on participation in local election commissions as well as allowing the Central Election Commission and courts review complains on the day of the vote, according to the newspaper.

The candidates must be registered by the Central Election Commission before November 9, according to the legislation.

The next day after the registration, a candidate may start campaigning and advertising and may continue to do so through the end of January 15, 2010.

Source: Ukrainian Journal