Ukraine: Dear Polish Delegation, We’re in Shock, Too

Feb 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Against Absentee Voting of Members of Parliament, Politics, Ukraine

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian Channel 5 broadcasted a report about the visit of the Polish parliamentary delegation to the national legislature Verkhovna Rada.

According to the report, the Polish visitors were shocked by the Ukrainian MPs’ practice of voting on behalf of fellow party members: in Poland, such a practice was illegal, one of the guests commented, and would lead to the loss of mandate by the MP in question.

Although the Ukrainian Constitution calls for the MPs to exercise their duties personally, voting for their peers has been a seemingly ineradicable practice, especially popular with the MPs of the latest convocation. It has prompted widespread condemnation on occasions like the passage of the controversial Tax Code [ENG] and the recent changes to the Constitution [ENG]. The idea that the elected representatives know how their fellow party members would vote and thus can vote on their behalf has also been called into question. The latest incident involves the opposition MP Volodymyr Aryev claiming [UKR] that someone had voted for amending the Constitution with a duplicate of his electronic voting card against his will, while he was on a transatlantic flight to Washington, DC.

Media reports about the Polish delegation witnessing and ridiculing voting in Verkhovna Rada were shared widely by Ukrainian netizens and discussed on the Anglophone blogs about Ukraine.

A screenshot of a TV report showing Ukrainian MPs voting, circulated by Ukrainian netizens

It seems the incident has prompted many Ukrainians to re-examine the state of affairs in the Parliament. Some 166 comments have been left under the TV report called “Polish delegation is in shock” uploaded by one of the Ukrainain Facebook users, with most commentators expressing shame and outrage.

User Igor Nikolaiev wrote:

This is a shame. I think this [incident] would be a big contribution to Ukraine’s already quite distant perspective of joining the EU.

User [Iryna Matviyenko] wrote:

What a shame…

User Sergiy […] wrote:

The country needs those who would not mock the Constitution of Ukraine and the law, at least when the cameras are watching. Regardless of [their party affiliation].

User Olga Riznyak wrote:

How much longer would they be shaming us??? Maybe the world finally realizes that there is no democracy in Ukraine!!!

User Roksolana Kohut wrote:

If during parliamentary elections one average citizen votes on behalf of another average citizen, the discovery of such an incident, if I’m not mistaken, would lead to criminal responsibility and imprisonment of this average citizen. Are there different laws for the “chosen” ones?

Some suggested ways to improve the situation. User Igor Slisarenko wrote:

This [shameful practice] can be terminated in only one way: in many parliaments (I recall Mexico, Korea) voting for “that other guy” is a criminal offense. But who of these guys here would vote for [such a law]?

User Rostyslav Saban wrote:

The way we, everyone taken separately, are – that’s what our country’s like as a whole. Remember when you have personally betrayed your own principles, disrespected the law, finally, crossed the street in a wrong place – those governing the country are the same way, it’s just that the scale is different. So let’s become better, tougher, more principled… and [the happy days will come]!

In addition to being featured in this discussion, the TV report called “Polish delegation is in shock” has been shared widely on Twitter and by other Facebook users. A heading used by several of those who reposted it read:

We’re in shock, too.

Written by Tetyana Bohdanova


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