Fewer Anti-Reformists: Results of Nine Sessions of the Verkhovna Rada's Work

Fewer Anti-Reformists: Results of Nine Sessions of the Verkhovna Rada’s Work

Photo: unsplash / Victoria Prymak
13 February 2024
FacebookTwitterTelegram
1593

During the ninth session, which lasted from February to September 2023, people’s deputies put in more effort towards implementing reforms compared to the previous session. This is not surprising, as they had to pass laws that were specifically needed to secure continued funding from international partners. Topping the rankings as usual were the “Servants of the People,” who were the most active in voting for reforms during previous sessions and continued to do so in 2023. This was expected, as the mono-majority still managed to gather the necessary votes to pass crucial bills, albeit with some assistance from other factions. Among the outsiders were mostly former representatives of pro-Russian parties.

The group of anti-reformers shrunk as some MPs have become more active in their work. As a result, there are now more supporters of reforms.  

Methodology

The MP efficiency rating or the Reform Support Index is an online tool for evaluating the work of people’s deputies in the Verkhovna Rada based on their pro- and anti-reform votes.

The list of reformist and anti-reformist laws and their evaluations are obtained from the Reform Index, another project by Vox Ukraine. Each law that can significantly impact the country’s economic and social life is assessed by Reform Index experts on a scale from -5 to +5, depending on its expected impact (negative or positive). Each MP who votes for a law receives the score assigned to that law by the experts. 

The efficiency rating is presented in percentages, representing the ratio of points an MP earns to the maximum possible points for their tenure. The rating is cumulative, meaning the final score is calculated based on a lawmaker’s voting record from the day they entered Parliament. For newcomers, each vote carries greater weight in the overall assessment. Over time, as the number of laws an MP could have voted on increases, the weight of each law decreases.

An MP receives the highest score (100%) if they support all reformist laws and do not vote for any anti-reform ones. When a deputy votes for reforms, their cumulative score increases, while support for anti-reform efforts decreases their score. Abstaining or voting against both positive and negative laws earns zero points. 

The overall reform support rating is the average score of all people’s deputies in the rankings across all sessions. 

Based on the level of a deputy’s efficiency, we categorize all MPs into three hypothetical groups: reformers, moderate reformers, and anti-reformers:

  • Reformers, with 100% through 89% efficiency.
  • Moderate Reformers, with 88.99% through 40% efficiency.
  • Anti-Reformers, with less than 40% efficiency.

We understand that voting for reforms is not the sole criterion for assessing the performance of a member of Parliament. A comprehensive list of duties for MPs is outlined in the “Law on the Status of a Member of Parliament.” In addition, it is essential to consider the reputation of an elected official, taking into account factors such as instances of unethical behavior, involvement in corruption scandals, or violations related to financial disclosures etc.

Since it is not possible to consider all factors in a single rating, we have focused on measuring the support of MPs for important changes in the economic and socio-political “rules of the game” in the country.

In order to learn more about a people’s deputy, we encourage using various sources of information, including investigative journalism, analytical reports from civil society organizations, and other public movements. For example, the civil society initiative “CHESNO” has created the “Polithub” portal, which compiles biographies of many Ukrainian politicians, including information about any unethical or criminal behavior and their voting on harmful legislative proposals. 

During the calculation of results for the nine sessions, we excluded eight laws (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) from the Reform Index because there was no voting data available for them on the website of the Verkhovna Rada. All of these laws were passed at the beginning of the full-scale invasion by Russia and received positive evaluations from the Reform Index experts. In response to our inquiry, the Verkhovna Rada informed us that from March 3 to April 14, 2023, voting in the session hall was conducted using an electronic system without individualized recording of results for security reasons.

Since the first session of the current Parliament lasted only one day (August 29, 2019), during which no laws evaluated by the Reform Index experts were passed, the calculation of MP efficiency starts from the second session onward.

Change in methodology: In previous iterations of MP efficiency for ranking factions, we included deputies who ended their tenure in the calculation. However, starting from the evaluation of the eighth session, we excluded them from the calculation and focused on measuring the effectiveness of the current composition of factions. This change is because, over time, a faction can accumulate a growing number of former MPs, making its efficiency less indicative for assessing the efficiency of current members.

Additionally, in our previous efficiency calculations, we included laws signed by the President during these sessions in the results for each session. This was because the President sometimes took months to sign acts passed by Parliament. However, after the eighth session, we recalculated the efficiency for all sessions using a different method: we attributed the laws to the session during which Parliament passed them. 

From open sources, it is known that five MPs have joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine: Roman Lozynskyi and Roman Kostenko (Holos), Mykhailo Zabrodskyi (European Solidarity), Serhii Rudyk (For the Future), and Sviatoslav Yurash (Servant of the People). Yana Zinkevych (European Solidarity) serves as the commander of a volunteer battalion called “Hospitallers.” MP Oleksandra Ustinova was on maternity leave from January 29, 2022, to September 6, 2022 (when her voting for laws from the Reform Index was resumed). Due to objective reasons, they did not have the opportunity to regularly attend sessions of the Verkhovna Rada. Therefore, starting from February 24, 2022, we did not consider these MPs’ votes if they were absent from the session. This means that if these elected officials missed voting for reformist laws during their absence for valid reasons, their maximum possible score would not be reduced, and their efficiency coefficient would remain unaffected.

If MPs announce that they resume their parliamentary duties, then the period of their absence from February 24, 2022, until the date of their return is not taken into account for calculating their efficiency rating. This was the case with Roman Lozynskyi, who remains an active military service member and was officially assigned to work in Parliament on legitimate grounds (Lozynskyi reported this on September 29, 2023).

We should also note that in February 2023, the Verkhovna Rada suspended the participation of MP Geo Leros in plenary sessions. In November 2023, the Supreme Court ruled that this suspension was unlawful. Considering these factors, we did not reduce his score due to his absence during the ninth session. However, the deputy still received a score of 0 for the ninth session because he did not vote for any of the reformist laws when he had the opportunity to do so. According to some open sources, Geo Leros joined the ranks of Ukraine’s defenders. We have not received a response to our inquiry on this matter, so once this information is confirmed, we will update the rating for this MP.

If you are aware of any other MPs who were unable to participate in votes for similar or equivalent valid reasons, please inform us so we can improve the rankings. 

After the “turbo mode” of the second session, the reformist activity of MPs decreased during the third and fourth sessions. The full-scale invasion that coincided with the seventh session forced MPs to intensify their legislative efforts. Although the number of laws passed during the eighth session once again declined, the necessity of implementing reforms, particularly to meet European integration requirements and obtain financial assistance from international partners, motivated the passage of laws.

Figure 1. The number of enacted laws included in the Reform Index by session

Source: Reform Index 

Note: During the seventh session, at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, eight laws were passed for which voting results are unavailable on the Verkhovna Rada website (see Methodology). Although the Reform Index project experts assessed these laws, they were not considered for calculating the MP efficiency. In response to our inquiry, the Verkhovna Rada indicated that from March 3 to April 14, 2023, voting in the session hall was conducted using an electronic system without individualized recording of results for security reasons. 

The cumulative rating for the nine sessions showed that, on average, deputies supported reforms at a rate of 67.7%, compared to 67.55% after the eight sessions. For comparison, during the second session, this composition of the Verkhovna Rada had an average reform support rate of over 70%.

This decline in reformist activity is particularly associated with the increase in the “moderate reformers” group, which constitutes the majority of Parliament and includes representatives from all factions (these deputies do not support all reforms). In contrast, at the beginning of the current parliamentary term, the largest portion of Parliament was composed of reformers (those who voted for all or nearly all reforms). 

Additionally, the number of MPs decreased from 426 during the second session to 404 after the ninth session. Some of them transitioned to work in the executive branch, while others were deprived of their parliamentary mandates.

In this article, we will first assess the effectiveness of work during the ninth session compared to the previous one. Then, we will look at the deputies’ efficiency over the entire term, which includes all nine sessions of the IX convocation of the Verkhovna Rada. 

The rankings of all the deputies can be found on our website

Top reformers of the ninth session

During the ninth session, 33 MPs achieved a 100% effectiveness rating, compared to 47 after the eighth session. For the first time, two people’s deputies from the Dovira group (Serhii Velmozhnyi and Oleksandr Sukhov), along with Yana Zinkevych from European Solidarity, made it to the top of the rankings. Their reformist activity significantly increased in recent sessions, whereas at the beginning of the term, their efficiency stood at 54% for members of the Dovira group and 38% for the representative of European Solidarity. The other thirty MPs who showed the highest effectiveness during the ninth session were representatives of the Servant of the People faction.

In second place, with a slight margin (99%), were eleven MPs from Servant of the People and one MP from the Restoration of Ukraine group (formerly the pro-Russian Opposition Platform – For Life faction), Serhii Burmich. After the previous (eighth) session, this MP also demonstrated high effectiveness with a score of 93%, while during the second to sixth sessions, his score did not exceed 20.2%. 

With an effectiveness rating of 98%, two MPs from the Servant of the People faction, Oleksandr Sova and Ruslan Horbenko, placed third.

Overall, after the ninth session, the list of MPs who occupied the top 3 rankings with efficiency scores of 98%-100% decreased from 66 to 47 compared to the results of the eighth session. Furthermore, 45% of these MPs are new, meaning they were not in the top three positions after the eighth session. 

The least efficient deputies of the ninth session

Compared to the eighth session, the number of the least effective MPs has decreased. Six MPs showed zero effectiveness during the period from February to September 2023: Serhii Shakhov (Dovira), Anastasiia Liashenko (Servant of the People), Anzhelika Labunska (Batkivshchyna), Ihor Palytsia (For the Future party), Geo Leros (non-factional), and Fedir Khrystenko (non-factional). Additionally, seven MPs scored 10% or less in the ninth session: Andrii Nikolaienko (Batkivshchyna), Oleksandr Feldman (Restoration of Ukraine), Anatolii Urbanskyi (For the Future party), Vitalii Danilov (Batkivshchyna), Ruslan Kniazevych (European Solidarity), Oleksandr Dubinskyi (non-factional), and Stepan Ivakhiv (For the Future party).

Most of these MPs were already at the bottom of the rankings. For example, there were four “traditional” outsiders with an efficiency rating of less than 10% for at least the last four sessions: Dubinskyi, Labunska, Palytsia, and Ivakhiv.

It is also worth noting that among the MPs who scored 10% or less, there were no representatives from the Holos faction and the Platform for Life and Peace group. Their minimum efficiency rating for the ninth session was 16% for Kira Rudyk (Holos) and 32% for Hryhorii Surkis and Serhii Liovochkin (Platform for Life and Peace). 

Summary of the work of people’s deputies over nine sessions in total. The number of anti-reformers is decreasing

Due to the rankings’ cumulative nature, it is difficult to significantly improve one’s position at this point, as most of the normative term has already passed. However, some MPs whose ratings were previously average have improved their positions. Overall, high efficiency was demonstrated by stable reform leaders and newcomers who have not yet accumulated a significant voting history in this term.

The first place in the rankings with a 100% efficiency rating is held by Oleksandr Vasiuk, a Servant of the People faction member, who has maintained this rating over the last three sessions since taking the oath in August 2022. Mykola Tararin and Natalia Loktionova also scored 100%. However, considering they took the oath only in August 2023, towards the end of the ninth session, it is still too early to determine whether they truly support reforms. Given their limited voting history, such a result is expected and typical for “newcomers,” so we will continue to track their future activity. 

The second position in the rankings is shared by Oleksandr Pasichnyi (96.6%) and Serhii Kostriichuk (96.5%), both of whom are representatives of the mono-majority party. In the previous round of assessment, they were in fourth place in the rating.

Oleksandr Pasichnyi has been serving since the first session and has consistently shown high support for reform-oriented laws (92-100%) throughout the term. If we exclude the aforementioned top three newcomers, he is effectively the reform leader of the IX convocation. 

Ranking third are eight members of the Servant of the People faction. All of them have previously been in the top 5 of the reformer rating.

In contrast, Valentyna Korolenko, who had a 98.5% efficiency rating and held second place in the rankings after eight sessions, has dropped to eighth place with a 91% efficiency score. She worsened her positions during the ninth session, earning 76% efficiency because she did not vote for some reform-oriented laws, particularly in the areas of non-bank financial market regulation, decentralization, and anti-corruption measures. 

Reformers, moderate reformers, and anti-reformers

After the ninth session, there were 86 members in the hypothetical group of reformers (those with an 89-100% efficiency rating), as shown in Figure 2. As before, all of them are from the Servant of the People faction.

Figure 2. Transitions between groups based on efficiency during the VII, VIII, and IX sessions

Five reformist deputies moved into the category of moderate reformers. However, six individuals shifted into the reformist group – four from the moderate group and two who had their first term in Parliament during the ninth session.

The number of anti-reformers decreased from 73 to 64 after the ninth session. Twelve MPs transitioned into the moderate reformer group, but two from the moderate reformer group joined the least effective mandate holders cohort.  

The majority of anti-reformist deputies of the IX convocation consistently occupy lower positions in the rankings. These are mainly representatives of the opposition who consistently do not support laws initiated by the current government, as well as former representatives of pro-Russian parties. Although Batkivshchyna and European Solidarity have almost the same number of MPs in this convocation, Batkivshchyna, with the majority of its members (19 out of 25 deputies) along with the faction’s leader Yuliia Tymoshenko, has become anti-reformist and constitutes a third of this group. On the other hand, only two lawmakers out of 27 from European Solidarity belong to this group, including the fifth President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko.

Figure 3. Distribution of factions by groups

As a result, the largest group remains the moderate reformers. Deputies in this group have an efficiency rating of 40-88.99%. During the ninth session, the number of representatives in this group expanded to 254 MPs. The core of the moderate reformers includes members of the pro-government Servant of the People faction, most members of European Solidarity and Holos, as well as the entire Dovira parliamentary group.

Interestingly, compared to the eighth session, representatives from former pro-Russian parties, who were previously among the anti-reformers, have joined this group – deputies from the Platform for Life and Peace and Restoration of Ukraine groups. It is possible that they increased their voting for reform laws to demonstrate loyalty to the government. 

Which factions have supported reforms since 2019?

The most reform-oriented faction is the pro-government Servant of the People, which overall supported reforms at a rate of 89% over the course of nine sessions. With a considerable margin but slightly above the average level in Parliament, representatives of the parliamentary group Dovira (formed in 2019 from non-factional majority MPs) also support reforms.

Figure 4. Distribution of factions by the level of reform support

The Holos party faction ranks third with an average level of reform support at 62%. European Solidarity currently supports approximately half of the reforms on average, while during the previous parliamentary term, the support rate for the Bloc of Petro Poroshenko was 71%. Other factions and parliamentary groups demonstrate efficiency levels of less than 50%. The Batkivshchyna faction is the least reform-oriented, with an average reform support rate of 29% over the nine sessions of the IX convocation (during the VIII convocation, it supported reforms on average at 43%).

Figure 5 depicts the distribution of faction support for reform directions or, conversely, areas where MPs did not vote for reform. 

Figure 5. Fractional reform support scores by reform areas

Note: The figure displays the average level of reform support by factions and parliamentary groups. Voting for each reform-oriented bill earns a deputy a certain number of points, equivalent to the number assigned to the bill by the Reform Index experts. “Anti-reform votes” receive negative points, and voting “in favor” of such a bill reduces the MP’s overall reform-oriented score. The average support for reforms by factions is the average score received for a specific bill by all faction members. It is also worth noting that some bills could belong to multiple categories. 

MPs demonstrated the highest effectiveness in reforming the areas of “other in the business environment” (77%), “efficiency of state expenditures” (75%), “culture” (74%), “social protection” (74%), and “education” (74%). They demonstrated the lowest efficiency in “competition policy” (23%) because the majority voted for bills that the Reform Index experts considered anti-reform. The average efficiency rating of reform support by deputies in other areas ranged from 64% to 72%.

Overall, the Servant of the People faction supports reforms across all directions. However, in some sub-areas, there were fewer reform bills (e.g., in managing the state debt and the independence of the National Bank of Ukraine). Since the mono-majority supported them almost unanimously, these directions received a high percentage of support. The faction received a much lower rating for “competitive policy,”  supporting two bills on preferential treatment for industrial parks, which the experts from the Reform Index regarded as anti-reform. 

European Solidarity, Platform for Life and Peace, and Batkivshchyna did not support reforms in either the management of the state debt or the activities of the National Bank of Ukraine, for which they received 0% in these areas.

However, the opposition faction, European Solidarity, was inclined to support reform initiatives in the field of human capital. Although this faction’s deputies have an average level of effectiveness of 52%, they showed the highest level of reform support in the field of education (82%) and culture (78%). 

The deputies of the Platform for Life and Peace, which unites former members of the Opposition Platform – For Life (OPFL), although they attempted to align their voting with the pro-government majority during the past few sessions, could not significantly improve their effectiveness over the nine sessions, considering their history in previous sessions. Therefore, they showed the highest efficiency in the sub-direction “other in state finances,” voting in favor of limiting changes to the state budget with a majority of their members.

Batkivshchyna opposes reform initiatives to such an extent that it only supported reform in the sub-direction “other in the business environment,” where it received an average efficiency rating of 71% (however, there were only four laws in this sub-direction: on banning clear-cutting in the Carpathians, on road safety, and two laws regarding sanctions). 

Conclusions

Based on the results of the nine sessions, MPs moderately support reforms, with an average efficiency rating of 67.7%. This score has slightly increased compared to the previous session but has dropped by just over five percentage points since the beginning of the evaluation of the IX convocation. This reflects the fading of the “turbo mode” that people’s deputies demonstrated during the second session and the need to find consensus not only with representatives of other factions and parliamentary groups but also within the “mono-majority” (which is now challenging to call that way).

The main reformers remain representatives of the Servant of the People faction, with an average efficiency score of 83% within the faction. The outsiders include representatives of almost all factions, but they are mostly former members of now-banned pro-Russian parties such as the Platform for Life and Peace and Batkivshchyna. 

Parliament’s composition includes the largest group of moderate reformers, which has grown mainly due to former anti-reformers. Primarily, this growth was provided by representatives of the now-banned OPFL and other pro-Russian parties who are now trying to be helpful to the ruling party and support its position.

Deputies provided the most support for reforms in the following areas: “other in the business environment,” “efficiency of state expenditures,” “culture,” “social protection,” and “education.” They provided the least support in the “competitive environment” category because they passed anti-reform laws in this area. 


Authors

Attention

The author doesn`t work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations