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 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.