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4 february 2020

The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine preliminary approved the Draft Law on constitutional amendment to reduce the number of People's Deputies of Ukraine without taking into account the legal standpoint of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine

On February 4, 2020, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine preliminary approved the Draft Law on amending Articles 76 and 77 of the Constitution of Ukraine (concerning the reduction of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and the establishment of the proportional electoral system) (Reg. No. 1017). Despite the fact that Draft Law received a positive opinion of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine, Parliament did not take into account the legal standpoint of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine in the Opinion of December 16, 2019 regarding the text of the Draft Law. In particular, the Constitutional Court of Ukraine highlighted the following:

  • the Constitution of Ukraine shall establish clear and unambiguous provisions on universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot for the parliamentary election;
  • the type of electoral system, its features and peculiarities are the matter of political expediency, that is why fixing the type of electoral system in the Constitution of Ukraine is not mandatory; 
  • the reduction of the constitutional composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should be applied together with correction of other provisions of the Constriction of Ukraine determining a certain (specific) number of People's Deputies of Ukraine; system approach towards all relevant provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine should be considered;
  • there is a collision between proposed Paragraph 17 of Section XV "Transitional Provisions" of the Constitution of Ukraine and Article 90 (1) of the Constitution of Ukraine on the matter of termination of powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. The application of above-mentioned Paragraph 17 violates the constitutional principle of time continuity of legislative power.

The CPLR has repeatedly highlighted the binding nature of the legal standpoint of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine for the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on the matter of constitutional amendment process. The proposal of Paragraph 17 of Section XV "Transitional Provisions" of the Constitution of Ukraine is dangerous for the stability of the constitutional order of Ukraine, since the risk of no parliament shall be effective in an indefinite time period, which threatens the national security of the state and can lead to violation of human right. In addition, changing the total number of People's Deputies of Ukraine requires correction of all other provisions of the Constitution of Ukraine that are directly related to the quantitative composition of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine (in particular, the number of People's Deputies of Ukraine who have the right to apply to the Constitutional Court of Ukraine with a constitutional appeal, which has not to be modified by the Draft Law). Therefore, the preliminary approval of this Draft Law in its current text version without taking into account the legal standpoint of the Constitutional Court of Ukraine is an improper way of constitutional revision, which leads to the collisions in the text of the Constitution, unjustified reduction of the number of People's Deputies of Ukraine. In turn, this situation leads to a deterioration of the constitutional culture in Ukraine, which is, by the way, extremely low today.