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25 October 2015

Participation in local elections - a luxury for the residents of Donbas

Today, on 25 October 2015 local elections are taking place in Ukraine. Most of internally displaced persons (IDPs) do not participate in these elections. The reason for that is the absence of registration of people who have found new homes (outside of the conflict area). According to Ukrainian law, only those who have registered can vote, and they can do that in the district where registered. But we are talking about the election of local legislators who formulate local policies in the bodies of local self-government.

It should be noted that in the Ukrainian society there is a discussion - whether to allow IDPs to vote. Proponents of providing IDPs suffrage prepared a bill №2501a-1 "On amendments to some legislative acts on ensuring the electoral rights of internally displaced persons". The bill proposes to provide that IDPs have the right to vote at the address of residence mentioned in the certificate of registration of internally displaced persons after filing of a corresponding application. This application must be submitted in person at the Voter Register managing body responsible for making changes to the electronic database.

But the bill has remained the draft law, having received the following conclusions by the General department of scientific expertise of 15 September 2015: as the result of the first reading of the bill it is advisable to return it to the subject of legislative initiative for revision.

Regarding those who do not support giving the inhabitants of the occupied Donbass and annexed Crimea the right to vote in local elections, their main concern is that new residents of their communities would bring their electoral mood that they had long demonstrated in their own provinces, and namely would vote for representatives of the former political elites.

I will take a step back from describing these various positions, to say that an interesting precedent was demonstrated by the local community of Lviv, technically ensuring voting rights for more than 200 homeless persons. Previously these people had been registered at the address of the Center for registration and night shelter for the homeless. People were also provided support in obtaining passports, were later handed over the invitation to the elections.

Supporting in every way the initiative of Lviv, I want to ask, are people belonging to the group of IDPs any worse? If there is a precedent of a mechanism of voting for homeless, why such a mechanism had not been proposed for another vulnerable group - IDPs?

Is the right to vote in our country is not a universal one? Don’t the people who had already lost so much do not have the right to vote? Isn’t disregarding the rights of people with Ukrainian passports and citizenship the new factor in intensification of tensions in the society?

For me the answer is obvious. The right to vote should be ensured for all people living in the community and taking part in its development.

Author: Natalia Datchenko, Lugansk registration owner and supporter of united Ukraine

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