Moldova: Election maths

July 31, 2009

Preliminary Analysis of last Wednesday’s Moldovan election highlights some of the issues with the D’Hondt System particularity when it involves a representation threshold.

Comparison between the April election and the July election shows a consolidation of votes with fewer minor parties running for election. In April there were 12 parties plus independents. In July only 8 parties contested the election with The Green party being the only new constant.

The consolidation of the vote and reduction in the number of disenfranchised voters has a significant effect on the outcome of the election.

In April, Four political parties received sufficient votes to cross the 7% representative threshold, together they represented 84.8% of the total vote. The other minor parties collectively represented the balance of 15.2%

In July, Five political parties representing 95.8% crossed the new representation threshold of 5% and 4.2% were denied representation – a shift of 11%

Statistically in a re-run election the ruling party loses 4% to 6% of the vote. Moldova was no exception. However the ruling party suffered a 12 seat loss.

The ruling Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (CPRM) suffered a swing of 4.79%. In April they received 49.48% of the vote and in July 44.69%. This translated into 60 seats in the April election and only 48 seats in July.

The reason for the dramatic loss in representation was not so much as the 4.79% swing but more to do with the percentage of parties that crossed the threshold. In April the CPRM benefited from minor opposition parties low vote.

The representation threshold distorts the proportionality of the number of seats to the percentage of votes. The less the percentage of disenfranchised voters the more accurate reflection of the electorate in the overall results.

In Moldova the political parties and or voters realised that they needed to consolidate their support base in order to win representation.


The Swings and shifts of support

The Communist Party of Moldova lost 4.79% which was translated into a loss of 12 seats mainly because three additional parties – Democratic Party of Moldova, Christian Democratic People’s Party, Social Democratic Party (representing a total of 9.7% in April) crossed the 7% representation threshold. In April their votes were wasted in July they counted.

The biggest gain was the Democratic Party of Moldova (+9.57%) followed by Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (+4.14%)

“Moldova Noastra (Our Moldova)” Alliance recorded a swing of -2.42% against them as did the Christian Democratic People’s Party (-1.79%) and the Social Democratic Party (-1.18%)

July 2009 % Vote Swing Seats % seats
Communists Party 44.69% -4.79% 48 47.52%
Liberal Democratic Party 16.57% 4.14% 18 17.82%
Liberal Party 14.68% 1.55% 15 14.85%
Democratic Party 12.54% 9.57% 13 12.87%
Our Moldova Alliance 7.35% -2.42% 7 6.93%
Christian Democratic People’s Party 1.91% -1.79% 0
Social Democratic Party 1.86% -1.18% 0
Green Alliance 0.41% 0.41% 0
100.00% 101
April 2009 % Vote Seats % seats
Communists Party 49.48% 60 59.41%
Liberal Democratic Party 12.43% 15 14.85%
Liberal Party 13.13% 15 14.85%
Democratic Party 2.97%
Our Moldova Alliance 9.77% 11 10.89%
Christian Democratic People’s Party 3.70%
Social Democratic Party 3.04%
Centrist Union 2.75%
Social-Political Movement 1.01%
Conservative Party 0.29%
United Moldova 0.22%
Republican Party 0.09%
Independents 1.12%
100.00% 101

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Moldova: 4.72% Swing against the Communist Party in re-run election

July 30, 2009

The ruling Communist Party of Moldova, with 98% of the vote counted, is showing a swing of less then 5% down from 49.48% to 44.76% in the re-run election

Statistically in any re-run ballot there is a 4% to 6% swing against the government, Moldova is proving no exception.

It also raises questions as to the likely result on the second round of Ukraine’s 2004 presidential ballot. Viktor Yushchenko, following the re-run presidential election, won 52% of the vote indicating that he had really only won 48% of the second round ballot.

Source: alegeri.md

Table updated: 4 August 2009 (Final Results)

Party % Vote Swing Seats
Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova 44.69% -4.79% 48
Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova 16.57% 4.14% 18
Liberal Party 14.68% 1.55% 15
Democratic Party of Moldova 12.54% 9.57% 13
“Moldova Noastra (Our Moldova)” Alliance 7.35% -2.42% 7
Christian Democratic People’s Party 1.91% -1.79% 0
Social Democratic Party 1.86% -1.18% 0
Ecological Party of Moldova (Green Alliance) 0.41% 0.41% 0
100.00% 101

Presidential direct election to cost Ukraine over 1.5 Billion UAH

July 29, 2009

WHAT PRICE IS DEMOCRACY REALLY WORTH?

The cost of holding the Presidential election which is scheduled for January 17, 2010 has skyrocketed and is now estimated to cost over 1.5 billion UAH (Aprox. 200 Million US Dollars) according to Ukraine’s CEC estimates

The previous presidential election in 2004 cost 391 million UAH.

The 1.5 Billion UAH only covers the direct costs of two rounds of voting, this does not include the indirect costs associated with the campaign and impact to Ukraine’s economy, estimated to add a further 2 Billion UAH to the overall cost

With a bill of over 3 Billion UAH, Ukraine must be beginning to seriously question the value of the Presidential election. A cost that can not be readily justified given that there are perfectly acceptable democratic alternatives.

The Alternatives.

The cost of the Presidential election could be halved if Ukraine adopted a single round Preferential voting system. Under a preferential voting system voters are asked to rank in order of preference the candidates of their choosing. If no single candidate has an absolute majority (50% or more) then the candidates with the lowest votes are excluded from the count and their votes are redistributed according to the voters nominated order of preference. One round at half the cost with the results known in days as opposed to months.

The other alternative would be for the President to be appointed by a Constitutional majority of the Parliament. A system of Parliamentary appointment of Heads of State is common thought Europe. Greece which is considered the founding state of democracy appoints its head of state by it’s parliament.

A proposal to introduce a Parliamentary appointment system failed when negotiations between Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Party of Regions collapsed in June.


Yushchenko moves into the last six months of his five-year term of office

July 23, 2009

On January 23, 2005 Viktor Yushchenko took the oath commencing his five-year term of office.

As of today Yushchenko has less then six months remaining of his five-year term.

With the passing of this date Yushchenko loses authority to dismiss Ukraine’s parliament.

Article 90 of Ukraine’s Constitution removes the authority of the President to dismiss Ukraine’s Parliament within the last six months of the President’s term of office.

In 2007 Yushchenko dismissed Ukraine’s democratically elected parliament and illegally and unconstitutionally interfered in the independence an operation of Ukraine’s Constitutional Court in order to prevent the Court from ruling on the constitutionally of his April 2nd decree.

Any attempt by the President to dismiss Ukraine’s parliament for a second time will be challenged in Ukraine’s Constitutional Court and cause a repeat of the political and civil unrest that occurred in 2007.

Yushchenko can not afford the political fall out of an adverse ruling of the Constitutional Court and cause another debilitating political crisis in the lead-up to Presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010.

Article 90

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is terminated on the day of the opening of the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a new convocation.

The President of Ukraine may terminate the authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prior to the expiration of term, if:

(1) there is a failure to form within one month a coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as provided for in Article 83 of this Constitution;

(2) there is a failure, within sixty days following the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to form the personal composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;

(3) the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails, within thirty days of a single regular session, to commence its plenary meetings.

The early termination of powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall be decided by the President of Ukraine following relevant consultations with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and with Chairpersons of Verkhovna Rada parliamentary factions.

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, that is elected at special elections conducted after the pre-term termination by the President of Ukraine of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the previous convocation, shall not be terminated within one year from the day of its election.

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall not be terminated during the last six months of the term of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or President of Ukraine.


Revelations, Scepticism and Conspiracies – The stuff that Hollywood dramas are made from.

July 22, 2009

Extraordinary revelations about Ukraine’s highest political assignation has dominated Ukraine with the news of the arrest of former General-Lieutenant Oleksiy Pukach, who was detained for his involvement in journalist Gregory Gongadze’s murder yesterday.

Oleksiy Pukach is reported as having lived in Ukraine since he was put in the wanted list and has avoid capture until now.

It is also claimed that he has confessed to his involvement in murder and knows the location of Gongadze’s missing decapitated head and has named names of those involved.

This is indeed good news for Ukraine if the reports are true and it does deliver justice and brings those involved in Gongadze’s assignation to account

News of Pukach arrest has been met with scepticism by Gongadze’s wife who has been campaigning to have her husbands killers and those who ordered the assignation brought to justice. Gongadze’s murder goes right to the top with allegations of involvement of Ukraine’s former President, Leonard Kuchma and a cover-up conspiracy involving Ukraine’s incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko.

Myroslava Gongadze is certain that the order to kill her husband didn’t come from Pukach. But he may be the key link in solving the mystery of who did. “To name those who ordered the murder is one thing, but to gather evidence and charge them is another matter,” she said. “I want to stress that Pukach is only a link in the chain of murderers. The question is open about who ordered it and if there would be enough political will to bring charges against them.”

“I had almost lost hope that he would ever be caught,” she said. “Whether it’s connected to a political campaign, I am not sure. But in the course of eight years, Georgiy’s murder became a political case. A lot of political forces and leaders fight for it, whether they are interested in its outcome or not. That’s why the timing is not that important to me. What’s important is that the case is still open and that there will be more revelations.”

This is the stuff of Hollywood crime mysteries, spies and government conspiracies. It is hard to believe that MI5 could make such a stuff up in the investigations.

Ukraine’s embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, was quick to be seen associated with the arrest and the possibility of Gongadze’s killers bought to account. (If only the same could be achieved for those involved in the allegations of Yushchenko’s poisoning five years ago – allegations that have not been tested in a court of law)

The test and challenge will be keeping Pukach alive so that his testimony can be recorded and tried in open court. The last thing Ukraine needs is it’s own version of Lee Harvey Oswald.

Timeline of Georgiy Gongadze case
Source Kyiv Post

A timeline that starts before Gongadze’s disappearance, highlights individuals at the center of the investigation and shows how investigators have failed to solve the vicious murder.

July-August 2000 Georgiy Gongadze, founder and editor of the Ukrainska Pravda website, told a Kyiv Post reporter that he was being persecuted for his hard-hitting journalism. He complained to many people that he was being followed and harassed by the authorities, and that he feared for his life.

Sept. 16, 2000 Gongadze kidnapped on his way home.

Sept. 17, 2000 Criminal case launched into his disappearance.

Nov. 2, 2000 Gongadze’s beheaded corpse found about 100 kilometers south of Kyiv; his head still has not been found.

Nov. 28, 2000 Oleksandr Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party and a leading opponent to President Leonid Kuchma, unveils audio recordings allegedly made by the president’s bodyguard, Mykola Melnychenko. The tapes seem to implicate Kuchma in Gongadze’s abduction. The tapes included conversations with voices resembling Kuchma, chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn, State Security Service head Leonid Derkach and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, discussing how to get rid of Gongadze, who had irritated Kuchma with his muckraking journalism.

Feb. 27, 2001 General Prosecutor’s Office initiates criminal case into the intentional murder of Gongadze.

2002 – 2003 Prosecutorial investigators suggest police officers could have been involved in the murder.

October 2003 General prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun arrests police general Oleksiy Pukach on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze’s disappearance and murder. Kuchma dismisses Piskun; Pukach is released from custody by a court ruling and ultimately flees the country.

December 2004 Court reinstates Piskun as general prosecutor

December 2004 Victor Yushchenko propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution and promises that the case of Gongadze and other crimes from the past will be solved. Lytvyn continues to serve as speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, a post he assumed in 2002, when he stepped down as presidential chief of staff.

March 1, 2005 Yushchenko announces that Gongadze’s assassins have been arrested

March 3, 2005 Piskun announces plans to question former interior minister Kravchenko as a witness in the Gongadze case. However, the next day, Kravchenko was found dead with two gunshots to the head in what investigators called a probable suicide. He was to appear for questioning that very day.

Nov. 23, 2005 Kyiv Appellate Court commences proceedings in a case against Mykola Protasov, Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych, three police officers accused of physically killing Gongadze upon the orders of Pukach, who had fled

November 2005 European Court of Human Rights orders Ukraine to pay 100,000 euros to Myroslava Gongadze as compensation for moral and material losses due to the country’s inability to properly investigate the murder.

2006 Ruling coalition led by Victor Yanukovych appoints Moroz as parliament speaker in place of Lytvyn.

Fall 2007 Moroz loses parliament speaker job after his party falls short of the cutoff in a snap election

March 15, 2008 Protasov, Kostenko and Popovych sentenced to 12-13 years in prison for their participation in the murder. Pukach remains at large.

August 2008 Moroz, who first blew the whistle on Gongadze’s murder, told a journalist that he didn’t think Kuchma was responsible. “Kuchma’s [emotional] complexes were used: his hot temper and lack of restraint. His statements were twisted and used very well. I do not think he had anything to do with the journalist’s death,” Moroz said, a few days before Kuchma’s lavish 70th birthday celebration.

December 2008 Lytvyn regains position as parliament’s speaker after his faction in parliament forms coalition with the bloc led by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

February 2009 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopts a resolution demanding Ukraine finish the Gongadze investigation, and conduct proper investigations into the death of Kravchenko and the release from custody of Pukach. Ukraine’s prosecutors announce they will appoint international experts to examine the Melnychenko recordings, more than eight years after they surfaced.

May-June 2009 Former Interior Ministry General Eduard Fere, a former associate of Kravchenko and key suspect in the Gongadze case, dies in a Ukrainian hospital, allegedly after spending the previous six years in a coma. The death of Fere is dubbed by Reporters Without Borders as a serious blow to the investigation. He and another former top law enforcement official under Kravchenko, Yuriy Degaev, are suspected of ordering Pukach to murder Gongadze, but it remains unclear to this day where the orders originated. Without testimony of Degaev, Fere, Kravchenko and Pukach, it may be impossible to identify who gave the orders.

July 22 2009 Ukrainian law enforcement captures Pukach.


3% Barrier to democratic reform

July 21, 2009

Ukraine’s 3% representation barrier has disenfranchised millions of Ukrainians and is not only undemocratic it’s unnecessary.

Roman Marchenko, (Kyiv post) raises a valid concern about Ukraine’s electoral system and the barrier to democratic representation.

The problem with the 3% barrier is that the votes are discarded and, as correctly pointed out by Roman Marchenko, millions of citizens disenfranchised in the process.

The preferred alternative is to create smaller localised electorates with each electorate returning nine members of parliament elected on a 10% quota by a system of preferential proportional representation (Meeks method). With this model there is no need for artificial representation barriers and supporters of minor candidates are not disenfranchised as their vote would be redistributed in order of their nominated preference. 40 (or 50) by 9 member local electorates would provide a good workable representational model whilst maintaining democratic values.

The introduction of a single transferable vote (STV) system and smaller localised electorates (each electorate MUST be equal in the number of representatives elected and within +/- 5% in the number of constituents) gives those Ukrainians the right to be represented by someone of their choosing. The Meeks method of counting further adds to the democratic representation. The key being equality and workability. Proportional representation at its purest and most effective.

Lower the 3 percent barrier

By law, parliamentarians are elected on the basis of a proportional system. At the same time, only those parties (blocs) that get at least 3 percent of votes can participate in the distribution of deputies’ mandates.

In the last election we watched a desperate struggle among some political parties for the “cherished” three percent threshold. The Socialists gained 2.86 percent of votes, while the Progressive Socialists got 1.86 percent. These figures mean that more than one and a half million Ukrainians voted for these political forces that are unrepresented in the Verkhovna Rada.

Their votes were distributed among parties which overcame the 3 percent barrier and implemented political ideas that did not correspond to the wishes of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians – and sometimes even contradicted those wishes. In the 2007 parliamentary election, about 7 percent of electors voted for parties that didn’t gain 3 percent. In 2006, the opinion of 18 percent of electors wasn’t taken into account!

There are great doubts that the 3 percent access barrier is democratic. One of the fundamental principles of democracy is political pluralism – a government that takes into account the will of the majority and to the will of minority. Practically, it means that the political minority can be represented in different state bodies as well as in the parliament.

The rights of the minority can’t be annulled by the votes of majority. But we have a strange situation. The state declares democratic principles in the Constitution, but introduces the high access barrier. This devalues the role of citizens in ruling the country.

In my opinion, even a 1 percent barrier would be undemocratic. I can appeal to the following logic. If 450 deputies of Verkhovna Rada represent 100 percent of electors, then one deputy represents approximately 0.22 percent. Thus, we have come to the very percent of access barrier (0.2 percent) which would mathematically meet the Constitution.

A lower access barrier will entail the Rada splitting into a greater number of parties and the appearance of parties with only a few members. But it will be a fair price for making the Rada more representative and for establishing a real people’s parliament.

Unfortunately, we can hardly expect support for the proposal from the parliament in force. Deputies (from major parties and blocs) want to raise the barrier to higher than 3 percent. Representatives of the Party of Regions and Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko take great inspiration from the practice of the northern neighbor. In Russia, the 7 percent barrier was introduced to secure victory of the pro-presidential power. Thus, the only chance to save the situation now is to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

In Feb. 26, 1998, the Constitutional Court tried a case on this point. The dispute was over an article of the law that stated: “The lists of candidates to deputies from political parties and electoral blocs of parties which gained less than 4 percent of electors’ votes do not get the right to participate in the distribution of deputies’ mandates. In the opinion of some people’s deputies of Ukraine, this statement contradicted the constitutional principles of the electoral right.”

The Constitutional Court came to rather a paradoxical conclusion: “Deprivation of the lists of candidates to deputies from political parties and electoral blocs of parties which gained less than 4 percents of electors’ votes … is the question of political reasonability, and it is to be settled by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.”

Unfortunately, such a decision cannot be explained any other way than by “political reasonability.”

At the same time, Mykola Savenko, a judge with the Ukrainian Constitutional Court, dissented: “As a consequence of such kind of distribution, political parties and electoral blocs of parties have a greater number of deputies’ mandates than they actually gained from electors.” Such a system, Savenko wrote, “distorts results of voting and [the] expression of electors’ will”.

The only thing we can hope for is another trial in the Constitutional Court, which should be initiated before the next election. Probably new judges will make their decisions not according to the principle of “political reasonability,” as their predecessors of the President Leonid Kuchma era did, but according to the Constitution. In this case, we can really hope that in the future, an unconstitutionally high barrier will not deprive many Ukrainians of their right to elect their representatives.

Roman Marchenko is chairman of the arbitration court at the Ukrainian Law Firms Association, vice president of the Ukrainian Law Firms Association, and a senior partner of Ilyashev & Partners law firm. He can be reached at marchenko@attorneys.com.ua


Poll: Parliament Six Pack – Party of Regions pick of the pack

July 20, 2009


Source: KyivPost

A recent poll showing the expected results of a fresh round of parliamentary Elections indicates that Party of Regions with 201 seats would win government with a coalition partner of their choosing. (Min required 225 seats)

Block Yulia Tymoshenko, Y-Front, Our Ukraine, the Communists Party and Lytvyn plus one other can all make offers to sit on the cabinet table. With the outcome being a gamblers dream as uncertainty takes hold all players are in with a chance.

This could prove to be tempting for Yushchenko as Our Ukraine could form a long awaited alliance with Party of Regions but they will fall short of a constitutional two-thirds Majority unless they are joined by Yatseniuk’s “Y-Front” team. A Constitutional majority could also be formed between PoR, BYuT and BVL coalition.

Based on the six parties listed this would translate into seats as following

Party Vote % Seats Seats %
Party of Regions PoR 32.7 201 44.67
Block Yulia Tymoshenko BYuT 14.2 87 19.40
Yatseniuk Front for Change Y-Front 12.8 79 17.49
Our Ukraine OU 5.4 33 7.38
Communist Party of Ukraine CPU 4.3 26 5.87
Block Volodymyr Lytvyn BVL 3.8 24 5.19
Sum 73.2 450 100

The published poll is missing details of 26.8% of undisclosed votes and which parties are below the 3% threshold.

When analysing poll results it is important to factor in the participation rate.

The participation rate is listed as ranging from 75% to 89%. This means that a party on 2.4% to 2.7% of the vote could also cross the 3% threshold quota .

Note: The graphic below published by Kyiv Post does not reflect the poll results.

Recent poll shows that Six Ukrainian parties, blocs may win early parliamentary election

Today, 16:05 | Interfax-Ukraine

Poll: six Ukrainian parties, blocs may win early parliamentary election Sixteen percent of the respondents said
they found it difficult to answer the
question, and 2.6% said they would vote
against all candidates.
Six parties and political blocs may pass the three percent threshold in the Verkhovna Rada elections, the Ukrainian Sociology Service said with the reference to a poll of 2,010 adults on July 4-14.

According to the service, 32.7% of the respondents said they would support the Party of Regions, 14.2% the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, 12.8% the Arseniy Yatseniuk Bloc, 5.4% the Our Ukraine Party, 4.3% the Communist Party, and 3.8% the Lytvyn Bloc.

Sixteen percent of the respondents said they found it difficult to answer the question, and 2.6% said they would vote against all candidates.

Forty-four percent of the respondents did not support the idea to dismiss the Verkhovna Rada and to hold early presidential elections. A total of 31.4% had the opposite opinion, and 24.5% were unable to answer the question.

A total of 32.6% of the respondents said they would take part in the possible early elections of the Verkhovna Rada, and 29.7% said they are likely to do that.

Meanwhile, 15.7% said they would rather not take part in the ballot, and 11.2% would not do that for sure.