Roger Myerson (Nobel Prize in Economics, 2007) comments on Ukraine
VoxUkraine and its partners organized a visit of Roger Myerson, a 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics, to Ukraine
VoxUkraine and its partners organized a visit of Roger Myerson, a 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics, to Ukraine. Darya Marchak (Liga.net) interviewed Prof. Myerson to get his perspective on developments in Ukraine. We publish an English version of the interview.
So, the very first question is: we see that for a long time you were interested what is happening in Ukraine. What was the reason what made you so interesting in our country, in situation developing?
I became aware of a unique structure of Ukrainian constitutional system, parliamentary system with a directly elected president whose primary power was his responsibility for appointing local governors. I became aware of that seven years ago. And that struck me as being a terrible constitutional system as you can see. All kinds of problems are coming from it. In 2011 I wrote a blog in response to something that Yulia Tymoshenko publishing Al Jazeera about the difficulties of democratization. She was advising the «Arab spring» that year and saying we’ve had hard time also in Ukraine. And I wrote saying, something to say part of reasons why I think that been difficulties in Ukraine because of excessive centralization and similar the Egyptians who you were advising and also dodging question about whether power should be centralized. The truth is in centralized power and this is important. Of course, then nobody was very interested. This year this country is in terrible crisis. Because of the crisis questions of fundamental reform are now pressing to the whole nation. I have many interest, I am senior economist with many things to do and research and we are all busy people. But there is nothing more important that I can do with any part of my life and to help to raise questions about the structure. When I see a problem with a constitutional structure of a nation and I can see a great nation like this being so crippled in its attempt to build a strong democracy because of fundamental mistakes in constitutional structure. It’s a privilege to try to help, to help people, to see that should be part of the political discussion here and I have nothing more important in my life to do than to help people of this country to pose the question. The answers cannot be decided certainly not by American professors and the president of Russia should also not be involving in the constitutional structure of Ukraine. But what you should want professors to do whether Ukrainian or abroad is to help to point out what are the issues are worth focusing on what is important, what is the priority among these issues. That something they have to decide. And I felt participating in that discussion. My colleague, one of the Ukrainian economists working now in United States, we were together here until this week, encouraged me when we worked together on this and it was my great privilege to be a part of this discussion.
If I may ask, you told that Ukrainian constitutional structure is unique. What is so unique about it? Because for example we have Russia and as far as I understand Russia is the same as centralized country as Ukraine. Also it’s called Federation.
Yes. What is unique is that Constitution was written certainly after 2004 reforms. The Ukrainian Constitution was written to try to concentrate real power over the national government in the hands of the prime-minister who is responsible to the Verhovna Rada rather than the President. The President of course has many powers, but let me say what I was told by someone I met in 2007 who said that he would help to write the Ukrainian Constitution was the way they came up with brilliant new idea of having a separation of power in which the Prime-minister took the principal responsibility for the national government and the President took primarily responsibility for the local governments. And my immediate reaction was that this is a terrible system. And I could say in details why, but let me just sat the fact in Russia it is more ambiguous does the President with a prime-minister really control the national government. The Russian constitution… it’s true, in December 2004 in Russia, they had a major reform which gave a president a power to appoint governors of oblast in Russia. When they implemented this constitution or reform in 2004 they were explicitly looking at Ukraine and saying we are going imitate Ukraine. I think this was a mistake in Ukraine; it is a mistake in Russia too. So, you’re right, Russia has imitated this. And all the arguments that I give about decentralization in Ukraine apply equally to the Russian Federation and I do specifically hope that some day in a future the Russian people will again get the ability to throw local politics, elect their own governors in each oblast, rather than having been appointed by the National President. The Russian Federation gives slightly more regional power in that formally as I understand that the Russian president’s selection of the governor of province, oblast or province, is subject to approval by the local council. In Ukraine it is not even subject to approval by local council. It specifically says in the Constitution if the local council disapproves the President’s choice, the President will decide what to do. The President is under no obligation to dismiss a governor who is lost his confidence of the provincial counselor under the Constitution. I’m reading its English translation but that it seems to say very clearly in my version of the Constitution of Ukraine. And that really is unique. There are strong presidential democracies around the world with a president runs the whole government. And there are strong presidential democracies that also have formally elected local councils but they don’t really have any power as in Ukraine. What is unusual is that a president has so little power over the national government and to have a national president who is the most important. Hard power under the constitution is his ability to control all the local governors, is unique the problem. I could say more about that if you like.
If you could just, for example, point out three-four-five major problems of such system.
There are two…I’ll give you major problems. The most important major problem is the whole advantage of local government, a largest advantage of local government is that, in a long one, where there is democratically autonomous local government and autonomous provincial local government of another countries, frequently people who have done particularly good jobs as local major or governor of a city or province then become strong competitors for higher office. If we asked what constitutional…what form in the constitutional structure of our country would we want to have for fifty years from now, this country would have the best possible leaders. To me I think there is no better reform than to give their own power to responsible district, rayon and oblast government because the people who do well within rayon, and the oblast they have responsibility for their own local administration. Local leaders who do particularly good jobs will be recognized by the nation and will become candidates for higher office and the quality of democratic competition. So, reason number one is that local democracy strengthens national democracy which is not said that local government is better than national government, it’s often more corrupted, in some instances, but when it’s good it then provides that is national democracy. The reason number two is more certain but specific to Ukraine. When you would like to president…things is more complicated in this but I’m going to simplify a little bit. Let’s simplify by summing what we think is the most important thing the president does is his ability to control local governments, but 24 oblasts that means the president most important power is he can pick the 24 heads( I think that’s the number), the 24 heads of oblast administrations who has powerful positions and he picks them. Than we have election. You have election here. In the selection the candidates can make promises. What promises do they make? When you think about appointing oblast government one promise you could make if you were a candidate for president one thing you could do is that you could find powerful supporters and say “Join and support my candidacy, bring out your people to vote for me and I will appoint you governor of a province.” Then, of course, to make it fun for such a supporter to become governor of a province I’m not going to work hard making sure it’s good government and he can take profits from this governorship and that what essentially I am selling a province to the highest dealer, to put is as an economist. This is affair, this is not a real Ukraine, but this is a simplification. It is a simplification. The other thing I can do, I can go to voters and say “Vote for me and I’ll appoint a governor who I make sure gives good government, good local administration in your province.” What should you do? I think the answer is you do both, because if you don’t want, you won’t vote the other one. What you do is…in those provinces that you think you can get a lot of votes you want to promise good government. In those provinces where you think for whatever reason, perhaps, because you grab some other part of country, that people aren’t going to vote for you and only a few people would be voting for you. In any case, then you want to sell this province to the highest dealer. So what happens now? Supposing you are running for president and I happened to like because we have met, I admire your personal talents, but I live in a province where most people will not vote for you. So I know you gonna sell my province to the higher dealer and now I also don’t want to vote for you. This is a game model I gave you but it is a model and it’s taken a little time, it’s a little complicated. You come up with presidential politics that polarizes people by profits. If candidates want to run based on being admired in some provinces and hated in other provinces because they gonna sell those provinces. I’m telling you this is a simplification, life is not that simple. This is unique feature of Ukrainian constitutional structure. In a simple model drives the country towards regional polarization. I think it is not wrong to suggest that some part of the tension between East and West of Ukraine. It specifically do. Not all of it but at least some of it is specifically cause by the form of presidential politics which these countries had. I’m again serious; we are talking about the rules of the game. In long history of the world there have been many tensions between many different groups of people in this part of the world and in other parts of the world. I’m not aware of any time when people in now eastern and western Ukraine had any particular tension with each other before the last twenty years. I think it developed under a constitutional structure that encouraged candidates for national leadership and candidates for president to run based on. And even for this region with that region. And that’s wrong. That’s just a bad system.
As far as I understand you told that another problem is that prime-minister loose central government.
It looks like he has responsibilities for central government if he is and president has responsibilities for regional government, yes?
In the story I’ve just told you to the extend if the president were responsible for all the government. Than when you are running for president and I know that I’m living in a province where you are not so popular. I know you gonna provide bad local government to my province. That’s a reason not to want you to win but perhaps I admire the position you are taken on national policy questions and so now perhaps I do vote for you. So, that’s why when someone is running nationally based more on local power than the decentralization happens much more. It’s not so bad to the extend and the president, of course, the president Poroshenko today is an important leader on national questions as well as local administrations. There is no question about that. But under the constitution the way this country is supposed to function is on national government, the most national government questions. It supposed to be much more important who is prime-minister than who is the president. I think I’m really come into the extend that’s true. The presidential politics become highly regionally polarizing. That’s my professional view as a game theorist. A game theory is abstract logical form, it’s something…I’m simplifying and it means I cannot tell the answer to any real political question but it is a way of pointing out. Ukrainians think about the problems of regional tensions, tensions between people of different regions of this country. It is very reasonable to think that at least some part of them may have been caused by a unique, and I would say dysfunctional, constitutional allocation of powers in which nationally elected president was given primarily more responsibilities for local government than for national government.
I have a question about personal responsibility. I mean is Ukrainian society ready for decentralization? Because decentralization reflects in everyday life of every Ukrainian. Are we ready to manage money, to take decisions on the local level?
Yes, yes. Let me say, first of all, I can imagine. I’ve participated in discussion, I’ve looked draft laws that some people had suggested for decentralization and also all this looks good, all this looks bad. But whatever is written on pieces of paper, what matters really is what the people of the country expect. So, decentralization would require…decentralization means that the national government has some power but the local government also has some power. Locally elected politicians in each province and in each district have some power to spend money on behalf of their communities. In any federal system, in any decentralized system there is a tension between the national and the local, maybe the national starts to take local power. If the people of Ukraine, are they going to the ultimate judges of whether if a national leader starts to take power from the local governments. Has the national leader overstepped his or her bounds? That’s the question that ultimately the voters would have to decide and so the people of Ukraine would be int_____ that never had a fact of decentralized political system. We have to learn. I think a good start. Maybe the most important thing I could say about how to learn to run a federal system. In the debates over decentralization reforms people, there were probably more than 2 thousand people who have already been elected to provincial county of oblast or provincial councils. Some of those people may have opinions about, should have opinions about the draft decentralization. Something they should welcome in a proposed law, would give them more abilities to serve their communities and something that maintain some degree of central control may seem frustrating or problematic to them. The people of Ukraine, the journalists of Ukraine who spread word should want to get their opinions in public. It’s very good. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to talk to you about these important questions, but even more important than my opinion and much more important than my opinion is the opinion of the fretful patriotic provincial councilors in western or eastern Ukraine who has opinions on, you know, what would be better, what would be worse in the support of decentralization. I think their voices should be heard. The second question is will there be corruption in the local? The answer is: if there is decentralization and more, I think it’s healthy decentralization, something between a third and a half of all public spending will be spend at the various local levels which means provincial oblast level or district rayon level or municipality level. But somewhere between a third 40-50% less than half but a substantial amount would be spend there. When it’s being spend under the direction of politicians on that level some part would be stolen by corruption.
Roger Myerson & Daniel McFadden
A large part would be stolen.
There is corruption. I’ve heard there is corruption in Ukraine. There is corruption in every country. There may be more corruption in Ukraine than in some other countries and that’s a problem. No matter how good things are you will never abolish corruption in any country. There is corruption. In the United States where I live there is more corruption at the local level than at the national level. My argument, however, is the United States had a unitary centralized democracy from the beginning when President Washington was elected in 1790 there had been no states of municipality. When President Washington was elected in 1790 in the United States of America there have been more than a hundred years of provincial and municipal democracy in this country. In my country – America – before the election, I should say my ancestors just were living in this part of the world for those days but never mind; it’s a country where I am a citizen, where I live. But if America had been from the beginning a totally centralized country where all power was run by the national government there will be more total corruption, but I argue that our national political competition is made more competitive because the best of the local governors, local leaders can become candidates for national leadership. As Mateo Renzi was considered as an outstanding Major of Florence before becoming Prime-Minister of Italy. Narendra Modi has become Prime-Minister of India after doing an outstanding job as Chief Minister of Gujarat province. Joko is just been elected President of Indonesia after doing an outstanding job as governor of Jakarta. So our national governments, our president of the United States now is not a governor, however, the previous President was. And more importantly the President had run as an outstanding former governor of Massachusetts in the last election in the United States. He’d done particularly good job as governor of Massachusetts. I voted for the President, not for the former governor, but that’s…he is at good competition, he was well qualified and the President has to respond to very qualified proven leadership. Anyway, so my point is there will be corruption and voters will need to learn to demand better from their provincial governments. If in the debate today when I am offering as a foreigner I am offering some suggestions and recommendations which people of Ukraine may think good arguments or bad arguments. But if arguments such as these are found persuasive that Ukraine decentralizes, do not say “oh, all those things Myerson said were wrong, because we have corrupted provincial government.” You will have corrupted provincial government in some provinces. The difference should be. You’ll have better leader. You’ll have some good governors, people who serve well in provinces become candidates for national office and you should be content. The success that I would expect is more Ukrainians will be satisfied that they have choices among outstanding proven leaders in future national politics. And the national government will become less corrupt. That’s what I would expect. But there will be innate for national audit of local government is important. In a good decentralized system the national government should not have a veto. No one agent of a national government should have a veto on local policy. In the United States if a local government breaks the law the national was supreme. If a local government breaks the law first a prosecutor from the Justice department which serves under the President of the United States brings a law issue and then a Judge, a federal judge, which is in independent branch of the national government presides over a judicature and if they find it wrong, then a state has to adjust a national law. But there is no veto. There is no agent, no prefect, who can veto state policy.
It was the reason you opposed to presidential constitutional remembrance, as far as I remember in this spring. You send a letter to Ukrainian Parliament opposing this direct veto.
Yes, because that was a serious problem. In my state of Illinois several recent governors had been gone to federal prison for corruption. And the people of Illinois were very thankful to the government for prosecuting…most Illinois citizens were thankful for prosecuting, for governors who we elected. Because of course we got new government and a new governor gets to make a decisions. So national audit of provincial and district spending is an important part of decentralization. And national law being enforced through the separate judiciary and executive agencies is an important part of decentralization. But there will be corruption at the local level.
Speaking about Ukraine, again, so as far as I remember one of your ideas you gave in your papers on decentralization of Ukraine was that no particular region should have some exclusive rights. But now what we have in Ukraine: we have two regions that ask for very high level of decentralization, just like autonomous states, quasi sovereign states and so on. In your opinion should Ukrainian central government provide these rights to two particular regions or not? Why?
The most important thing to say is if a region has special exemptions from some part of a law, it has special rights to not be covered by national laws. Then, if you allowed them to vote for your national leaders they don’t care about some part of national policy. And that’s not right. I am an American citizen, I live in America and I am not subjecting Ukrainian law. Therefore, I should not vote. It is appropriate that I have no vote in Ukrainian political decisions. I can publish professional suggestions, but I have no vote. When you give special right to people in one province and then still invite them to participate equally in your national political elections, you are creating a possibility of some bias. When people are voting for their representatives in the Parliament, so they choose the Prime-Minister when they voting for the President. They should all be equally subject to the administration of those national leaders, but no special favors. That I think is very important. If there is something which is important, some rights which are important for the Donetsk, provincial government have. It should be right to all provinces should have or not. I just told thing I would urge people to keep the political debate on that level. From the Kremlin there have been voices calling for federalism in Ukraine. It should not be their vote, but they have freedom to speak. I suppose also the separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk have also expressed their cause. I can read only in English but until recently I’ve seen nothing specific about what they were demanding. Recently I’ve began to see some specifics. I think that helps to debate, at least to know what they’re demanding. I think any demand as to allow provinces to veto national policy is a mistake. But demands that locally elected leaders should have more power to spend public money in providing services for their local constituents regardless of who is in power in Kiev. I think that is what decentralization should be about.
And another risk, as far as I see, if Ukrainian central government provides such rights, for example, exclusive rights to some regions, it could be like the next Crimea.
That is like create a number of quasi states that will try to split Ukraine.
It was a mistake, I think, to provide special rights to Crimea also. We understood there was special tension with Russia about that, perhaps, because of the importance of the Sevastopol, naval base to the Russian navy. But I think as a general principle and it bothered me as I studied the Constitution looking at the Crimes sections. Creating special rights for one part of the country, but still allowing the people there in an equal voice and national politics, distort national politics in the way, that’s dangerous. There are obviously could be some adventures at one part of the country, it is just so special. Canada, there is one province that speaks at different language, that’s better handle by allow provinces to make special provinces, to make special language policy which obviously in Canada might be apply vessel of much greater importance to Quebec than 20 other provinces of Canada, but it better to pray in that general language than to say I don’t believe that there is anything in the Constitution of Canada that’s says Quebec has the special privilege. I think that maybe there’s laws, let’s say there are this two national languages and each province makes certain kind of decision about how important each of them are in national government.
And another one risk issue of this decentralization to Ukraine is that every region, not every but a lot of regions of Ukraine have their own chief oligarch. Is it possible to say?
It looks like they are really owners of this region. How will that affect this decentralization in Ukraine on your opinion?
I am not surprised. I will not be surprised long that there are many regions were in one particular powerful individual controls with a lot of money, a lot of business power and a lot of social power through. And I would expect that in decentralization, the new provincial governments … would be a lot of work done by such people. As long as one of the advantages of being a province to the people of having decentralization of power to a province as impetus to a province becoming independent country. If decentralization went so far I’d said something like… If decentralization went so far that in each independent country that those people will become like the dictators of those countries. When you are the local boss in a province that is a part of broader country, I speak for an experience; I lived in Chicago, Chicago has local bosses, we have a little different, but I know about local political bosses. The local boss in my city and the local boss in some provinces of Ukraine will have to face more democratic competition because they are part of a bigger country and major political parties elsewhere in the country cannot be prevented from sponsoring candidates run against them. As long as in the end people get to vote in a secret ballet and the citizens of the province get to decide whether they want the oligarch return to power or not. As long as other national parties have the power, the right, defective power because they are strong in a nation to run candidates and to support candidates on those ballets. Than the people of the provinces have the choice, they can reelect an oligarch or they can say “yes, a lot of money” but he doesn’t run our government. A first they will probably choose the oligarch if he’s known to them. In the long run the oligarch make stay in power if they do good job as the oligarchs of Chicago have done in making sure that they remain genially popular but if you lose genial popularity and merely hold the power because of their wealth, democracy is not … Money really helps running the election but if people have lost belief, if you provide bad government, they know that other parts of the country have better government than they will reject the local oligarch. And that possibility is the advantage of federalism at the local level. I’ve emphasized earlier that local democracy strengthen the national democracy but in this centralized democratic system national democracy also strengthen local democracy. If it is a problem with local oligarchs, there is a problem in Illinois where I live in Chicago… And there is a problem in some parts of Ukraine, I am sure. But the remedy for it can be other multiparty competition at the national level maintaining true competitive democracy at the local level.
How would you delete the constitutional model propos by partnership? Have you studied this proposal?
I have not seen his proposal. I saw one person’s preproposal in spring of this year. I have heard, I have not read it. I’ve heard from colleges that one that he proposed that after next provincial elections he would even without constitutional form allow the majority of the oblast councils and neutral plus council to choose the prime minister, the oblast government head. And then I think is a good move actually become part of constitution but I am very pleased that the President of Ukraine is promising to start implement in that. I would suggest one implement right now, the oblast councils are already exist but he seems to think that first new elections need to be held perhaps because people like the old councils they didn’t know that they really gonna have any power. But I hope that those elections will be held as soon as possible, I don’t know when… they will be implemented by the President and make constitutional work as well as I think. But I also understand that there are proposals for supervisors, the people who involved, essentially they are ready to be appointed to heads of local government, anticipate that they will keep their jobs but now become supervisors in France the term as prefect, I don’t know if that word is used in Ukraine, but prefect in France was in nationally pointed individual who supervise local government. Before 1918 in France they had the Normans power of the local government. Since mid-1918 reforms, I don’t know the exact year, the French reduced the power of prefect and had a real local democracy effect for the benefits of local democracy that I’ve discussed. Local leaders must have responsibility so they take the credit for successors of local administration that are blamed for the failures. I fear that the prefect system will leave the blame with the local politicians in the credit of the national government. I think there are many people; you have work for the national government of Kyiv running local administrations. And I can understand that they might be more comfortable continuing to be appointed as the President of Ukraine rather than working for the local councils. But for the politicians, elected to the local councils to truly be able to report to their voters, their constituencies in each province. They have accomplished something fairly or be blamed, take the blame for feeling to accomplish better government. They have the power to succeed or fail. And without veto or supervision otherwise I fear those who wants to buy influence in a government and are going more to prefect, better to say veto force them to do in this way, force them to spend money on me than on something else. I’ve got the real power lice with the right of prefect, it’s too dangerous. The right way to maintain supremacy of national law without taking away the independency of local government is to require the two independent branches of a national government, need to agree before an action of the local government is reversed. And that’s done through the independent judiciary so no nation veto should occur without first adhering accord of law. I understand that rules at that rhythm, I don’t know that this is at the car of proposal draft. First, the veto is effective and then the province can take at the court, no. In America it works in not that way and I don’t believe it can be effective. Local government can be effective; the most of rules get exactly another way. National official can say this local law is illegal and we sue against it. Then there is a trial, the law is effective until the trial under an independent judge says that the provincial government misact against national law. I’d say one of the thing that there is one quick remedy allowing national govern… under the current constitution the Verhovna Rada the national legislation can buy majority of votes at any time as I read it. It all deserves the national provincial government in common elections. There is entirely property that means that if a national government, a majority coalition on the national level is convinced the particular province is acting outside of the law in a serious important way there is immediate remedy to improve their power and give the people of the province chance to vote again. Giving that power to the president, that’s something that could be discussed, to make it easier or quicker but I think it should be subject to current laws. It’s the best way to do. If the majority of the national legislature agrees that one province, provincial government is acting so far out of the law then it needs to be stopped. Dissolving and calling new elections is entirely appropriate.
You know, one of the most arguable questions now about decentralization and governors is who should elect these governors after constitutional changes? Directly by people or by members of local parliaments?
I personally think that given a structure, the multiparty structure of Ukraine. It would have much more sense to have it done by the local parliaments, local councils. Direct popular election of the governor may have some advantages when there is a two-party system, and then you have a different electoral system. I know Italy has a multiparty democracy but still has direct popular election of Majors in important cities. And I know Italians think that works well. I think they have parliamentary responsibility for the Majors and of course they have parliamentary responsibility for the Prime-Minister and that will also work well. My specific recommendation for Ukraine is that I think that people may argue problems about direct popular election of provincial government heads. I think the current Ukrainian political system is completely compatible with parliamentary responsibility that is responsibility to the provincial council of the local governments.
What does it change?
To the extent that different political parties represent different groups and it means that political dialogue is broken up into multiple parties that means President needs the executive, needs to build a coalition and government needs to be run by coalition of these interests. When you have a directly popularly elected chief executive, once he’s been elected, he serves and whatever party he comes from, if there are five different parties, he doesn’t depend on any of them. And we expect him to behave according to the party he belongs to. When he serves, of course he belongs to one party, but when he represents a coalition in the parliamentary system he must continually respect the views of other parties and continually maintain a compromise among them. And that’s mean he could be relied on and be candidate of all of those. He should be an official who responds to the views to the whole of the party in a coalition. That’s standard parliamentary government. That you have understood already from the national government. The other side of this, by the way, that it’s actually easier to form a stable coalition in a parliamentary system because the groups of parties that form together a majority have the benefits of power. They get to spend money, which is of course one that politicians would be able to do. They began to direct the spending of money once they form the government coalition. When the president, when the chief executive call the government with direct popular elected spends the money, then it doesn’t matter whether you are in the coalition or not, the money is being spend by the politicians. So it much less incentive to become a cooperating minority party in a governing coalition if you don’t control the executive under a parliamentary system.
And speaking about national level we have another important issue. It’s about how to choose members of this parliament. Whether they should be chosen on party list or as individuals?
My understanding is that on the national and provincial levels. Ukraine uses a mixed system with half of the body being elected by single member districts and have being elected by party lists. I think that is a good system. I think that mixute has worked well. I believe…The Germans have more complicated way of doing this staff, but did it in more complicate way most countries. You simply use the question representation on the half. And I think that’s a good system. It gives you both individual representatives, everyone knows who is their specific local representative to the parliament, and also groups that have coherent political identity that are strong in any else province and representation for the system. I would favored talking about some point about let’s call it open list reform, which means when you vote for party list you get to check off different candidates on that list and then when the party win five sits, which five candidates get these sits under what call they in English close nit system. The party central orders the candidates. And the top five get the sits. Under open list system when you vote for a party you could put checks next to names of candidates. And then the candidates will be checked by the most voters, visual supporters of the party on Election Day. People who’ve got the most checks from people who voted for the party on Election Day they get the sits. So that creates some level of individual competition. So the candidates being on the list required is being accepted his or her acceptance by the central committee of the party. But the voters then get to express how much confidence do they have in one candidate or another on the party list. And the voting is little more democratic and responsive to voters.
Do you have some more time?
I’ve spoken too much about too many complicated things but these are very complicated issues and I appreciate all your questions. But basically I think that Ukrainian electoral system to be well designed. I can suggest improvements but they are not nearly as important as other things.
The main problem for this kind of system is considered to be that those independent candidates are chosen to Verhovna Rada. They used to sell their votes after being elected. Don’t you think it’s a problem?
Some countries have what is called a floor crossing prohibition in a constitution which says if you are elected on one party you cannot vote for another party. You have to vote for the party line. I think those’re serious problems. I think if someone is elected for your district that’s because at least hundreds thousands of people have voted for that person. If you want to elect someone who then sell his vote for cash that he gets a pocket. Perhaps, I would suggest you are probably making a mistake. Still I cannot believe, I don’t think voters are stupid. I think voters may be uninformed, but in a long run I think it’s better to trust your representatives to make decisions. Certainly there should be lots saying that any cash given to representatives should be public. And the voting records should be public. If you’d like to know how your representative has voted and if he voted against the interests of the district you should be upset about it. In America it’s quite common, recently congressmen have voted very much by the party line but in most of American history the publicans and democrats were often voting against each other, against members of their own party because a bill was written to give special favors to their district. So even though I am a democratic representative and it looks like a public because it has special favors to my district. That’s not cash for me, that’s cash for me district. And my voters and my district like that and it pleases the candidates and their voters of the district. That’s to me is appropriate. And if people want to elect someone who sells him, who is corrupt we have to ask what he is doing to the voters. As long as democracy still exists I think that’s a lesser problem. Then allowing a corruption to be as long as there is a way for the voters to learn about it.
What are the possible scenarios for Donbas? How it will be there? What the situation will be?
To me a greatest hope is a serious decentralization could be welcomed by some local leaders in Donbas, Donetsk, and Lugansk; could be taken by meeting the demands for decentralization, giving them. Because my perception is under the existing constitutional structure the separatism began, was able to begin because a vast majority of population there felt that a new government in Kiev was going to be responsive to other areas, people of other areas of Ukraine but not to them. They felt that there is no power. Real decentralization should mean they feel under Ukrainian political system they will have regardless of what coalition government in Kiev they will have some power to serve themselves, to serve their local communities. And that’s number one. Number two I think Russia has been attempted to intervene partly because I believe, I don’t know, but I would believe that military leaders in the Kremlin have set to the President of Russia if NATO comes into Ukraine it looks like there will be German (Germany is in NATO) troops close to Volgograd and we cannot guarantee…that you know this raises all kinds of fears and military planners and I think they’ve been telling to the President how important is to make sure that Ukraine does not have American and European troops sitting in places that Russia fight wars to prevent to the past. Perhaps, those fears…there could be international negotiations between Europe, America, and Russia; could leave the fears that foreigners from Europe and America would take military advantage of Ukraine’s realignment and to create a military presence in Ukraine that would be hostile to Russia. That fear needs to be addressed. I thank being here with you in Kiev where I am aware that there are people fighting for this country, risking their lives and their valour, their courage makes this country hard to…defense of this country will make people understand that it is costly to try to violate the sovereign integrity of this country. I think that’s unfortunately necessary because we are talking about military defense of the country and that means courageous people are risking their lives. But I hope that with that the integrity of this country can survive. The Russians could seize their pressure to destabilize this politics in this country, and a better political system in this country could serve people of this country better. I should say my ultimate hope is now will Ukraine do better, but perhaps, decentralization is needed in Russia, may eventually happen by example of a successful decentralization in Ukraine. But obviously that’s looking a little feather down; this is vision for broader future. That’s better for people in all the countries of this area. Thank you.
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