15:20 26 Jan 2021

Verkhovna Rada supports Zelenskyi's draft law on referendum: what it means

The Verkhovna Rada supported the draft law on the all-Ukrainian referendum, introduced by President Volodymyr Zelenskyi, which provides for the possibility of electronic voting.

Ukrainska Pravda reports this. It's evidenced by the text of Draft Law №3612 "On Democracy through an All-Ukrainian Referendum."

255 people's deputies voted for the draft law.

голосування за закон про референдум

255 people's deputies voted for the draft law. The law was supported only by the Servant of the People faction, the Dovira group, and 9 non-factional people's deputies. According to the data on the parliament's website, almost all "servants" present at the meeting voted in favor (Mykola Solskyi and Vadym Strunevych didn't vote).

First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk explained that the law did offer the possibility of electronic voting in referendums, but only in case of the technical possibility. They will vote for a separate legislative act for this purpose. Until that happens, referendums will be held in the usual way.

According to the document, the subject of the all-Ukrainian referendum may be the adoption of a law on amendments to the Constitution (general principles, elections and the referendum itself, and justice, 38 articles in total – ed.), issues of national importance, change in Ukraine's territory and becoming invalid with the law of Ukraine or its separate provisions.

An all-Ukrainian referendum isn't allowed on draft laws on taxes, budget and amnesty, and issues that fall within the competence of law enforcement agencies (appointment of perpetrators, sentencing).

The draft law also expands the range of subjects of the referendum process, both supporters and opponents of the all-Ukrainian referendum. They can be both political parties and public organizations.

Besides, the draft law defines the possibility of introducing electronic procedures during the organization and conduct of an all-Ukrainian referendum, including electronic voting.

The all-Ukrainian referendum on approval of amendments to Section I "General Provisions," Section III "Elections. Referendum" and Section XIII "Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine" of the Constitution of Ukraine is appointed by the President.

An All-Ukrainian referendum on changing the territory of Ukraine is called by the Verkhovna Rada.

An All-Ukrainian referendum on the people's initiative is proclaimed by presidential decree (at the request of at least 3 million Ukrainian citizens who can vote, provided that signatures on the appointment of an all-Ukrainian referendum are collected in at least two-thirds of administrative-territorial units specified in part two of Article 133 of the Constitution of Ukraine, and not less than one hundred thousand signatures in each of them).

The question of an all-Ukrainian referendum must have unambiguous wording that doesn't allow for different interpretations, and the answer to it must be "yes" or "no."

An All-Ukrainian referendum may not be called or held in the event of imposing martial law or a state of emergency in Ukraine or certain localities thereof.

The Constitutional Court monitors the constitutionality of the all-Ukrainian referendum.

The factions reacted to the draft law as follows:

Yulia Tymoshenko from Batkivshchyna stated that a referendum on this law wouldn't be held because of bureaucratic procedures.

Oleksandr Puzanov of the OPZZh stated that the presidential law narrowed the range of topics on which a referendum can be held and set unrealistic deadlines,60 days to collect 3 million signatures, and also allowed only one issue to be considered in a referendum in one year and only one issue to be included in the ballot.

Ruslan Kniazevych of European Solidarity said that the president was in fact proposing a "legislative referendum," while it was impossible to "replace parliament with a referendum." His colleague from the faction, Kniazhytskyi, said that Zelensky's draft law with the possibility of electronic voting was an "instrument of hybrid warfare."

Serhii Rakhmanin of the Voice said the new law "actually allows button-knockers to press a nuclear button." According to him, anyone for any reason will be able to change, amend or repeal the laws for unknown reasons, under the guise of the will of the people.

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Такий закон в цьому вигляді могло вигадати тільки зелене лайно, бо головні питання життя громадян "з питань податків та бюджету", як і свавілля суддівської касти небожителів, а особливо їх доходи з кишень громадян, не виносяться на референдум, проте можна виносити питання про "зміну території України", через що, в умовах війни з зовнішнім агресором взагалі можна втратити і саму країну.

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