Law of Ukraine

“On the National Referendum”

Date of entry into force:
November 28, 2012

The Law determines the legal foundations, organization and procedure for holding the national referendum.

According to Article 1 of the Law, the national referendum is one of the forms of direct democracy in Ukraine, the means of direct exercise of power by the Ukrainian people, which entails the making (approval) of decisions on the issues of national importance by citizens of Ukraine, through a secret ballot, according to the procedure established by the Law.

Article 3 of the Law establishes that the subject of a national referendum can be any issues, except those that cannot be decided through a referendum according to the Constitution of Ukraine and the laws of Ukraine. A national referendum can be used to decide several questions on the same issue. The following types of a national referendum exist, depending on its subject:
  • on approval of the new version of the Constitution of Ukraine, amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine, withdrawal, expiration or declaring null and void a law on amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine (constitutional referendum);
  • on changing the territory of Ukraine (ratification referendum);
  • on approving or withdrawing a law of Ukraine, or amending a current law of Ukraine (legislative referendum);
  • on any other issue, except those that cannot be decided through a referendum according to the Constitution of Ukraine (general referendum).

The voting right at the national referendum is granted to citizens of Ukraine aged 18 or older as of the day of voting. Citizens of Ukraine that hold a voting right at the national referendum are the participants of the national referendum. The basis for a citizen of Ukraine to exercise their voting right at the national referendum is their inclusion in the list of participants of the national referendum at the voting district of the national referendum. A participant of a national referendum exercises their voting right during a national referendum according to the procedure established by the Law (Article 6 of the Law).

The entities that can initiate and appoint (announce) a national referendum are determined in Article 14 of the Law.

According to Article 15 of the Law, a national referendum by public initiative is a means for citizens of Ukraine to decide on issues of national importance, with regard to the limitations established by the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law. Through a national referendum held by public initiative, the Ukrainian people, as the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of authority in Ukraine, can exercise their exclusive right to determine and change the constitutional order in Ukraine, by adopting the Constitution of Ukraine (the statutory authority) according to the procedure determined by the Law. Through a national referendum held by public initiative, the Ukrainian people, as the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of authority in Ukraine, can express their will to adopt the new version of the Constitution of Ukraine, amend the Constitution of Ukraine, or withdraw or declare expired, or null and void a law on amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine, according to the procedure determined by the Law. Through a national referendum held by public initiative, the Ukrainian people, as the bearer of sovereignty and the only source of authority in Ukraine, can express their will to adopt (amend) Laws of Ukraine, except for laws that cannot be adopted through a referendum according to the Constitution of Ukraine, withdraw Laws of Ukraine, declare Laws of Ukraine or their separate provisions to be expired or null and void, according to the procedure determined by the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law. A national referendum can be held by public initiative on all issues, except those that cannot be decided through a national referendum according to the Constitution of Ukraine.

A national referendum to approve a new version of the Constitution of Ukraine, amend the Constitution of Ukraine, or withdraw or declare expired or null and void a law on amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine is a means for the Ukrainian people to exercise their right to determine the constitutional order of Ukraine by adopting a new version of the Constitution of Ukraine through a national referendum. A national referendum to adopt a new version of the Constitution of Ukraine, amend the Constitution of Ukraine, or withdraw or declare expired or null and void a law on amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine is announced by the President of Ukraine by public initiative (Article 16 of the Law).

Article 17 of the Law envisages that a law draft to amend Chapter I, “General Principles”, Chapter III “Elections. Referendum” or Chapter XIII “Amendment of the Constitution of Ukraine” is submitted to the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by the President of Ukraine or people’s deputies of Ukraine that constitute at least two-thirds of the constitutional membership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and, if voted for by at least two-thirds of the constitutional membership of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, is approved through a national referendum.

According to Article 18 of the Law, the national referendum to change the territory of Ukraine is a means for the Ukrainian people to make a decision to approve a law on ratifying an international agreement about changes to the territory of Ukraine.

The referendum question is a text that presents the referendum proposal, in the form of a question that calls for a clear “yes” or “no” answer from a participant of a national referendum. The referendum question must have a clear and understandable form allowing for no ambiguity of interpretation (Article 19 of the Law).

According to Article 20 of the Law, a national referendum cannot be initiated in relation to law drafts in the issues of:
  • taxes;
  • budget;
  • amnesty.
The issue of changing the territory of Ukraine cannot be presented (initiated) for a national referendum by public initiative. The texts of the new version of the Constitution of Ukraine and law drafts presented to the constitutional and legislative referendums must not cancel or limit the nature and scope of the existing human and citizen rights, or be directed at the liquidation of independence or violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Article 21 of the Law forbids appointing or holding a national referendum in the state of martial law or the state of emergency on the entire territory of Ukraine.

The principles for organizing and holding a national referendum are envisaged in Article 22 of the Law.

The process entities of the appropriate type of national referendum, in cases provided for by the Law, are:
  • citizens of Ukraine (participants of the national referendum);
  • the President of Ukraine, being the entity that appoints (announces) the national referendum;
  • the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, being the entity that initiates and appoints the national referendum;
  • the national referendum commission, created according to the Law or the Law of Ukraine “On the Central Election Commission”;
  • the national referendum initiative group, created according to the Law;
  • official observers from the national referendum initiative group, registered according to the requirements of the Law;
  • international observers, registered according to the requirements of the Law.

The procedure of appointing (announcing) an international referendum is established by Chapter II of the Law.

According to Article 29 of the Law, the national initiative to hold a national referendum is carried out by participants of the national referendum, by collecting their signatures under a request for referendum. The President of Ukraine must announce a national referendum held by public initiative, if the referendum issues do not violate the requirements of the Constitution of Ukraine, the Laws of Ukraine, and if the request to hold it has been signed by at least 3 million citizens of Ukraine with the right to vote, provided that the signatures were collected in at least two-thirds of regions, with a minimum of 100,000 signatures in each region. The collection of signatures under the request to hold a national referendum is organized and carried out by the national referendum initiative group, created and acting according to the Law. The collection of signatures under the request to hold a national referendum on a certain issue is carried out during 40 days after the registration of the national referendum initiative group that suggests taking the respective issue to a national referendum.

The national referendum initiative group is created according to the procedure envisaged by Article 30 of the Law.

The national referendum is held in a single national referendum district, which covers the entire territory of Ukraine and the foreign district (Article 37 of the Law).

The system of referendum commissions that prepare and hold the national referendum include:
  • the Central Election Commission, being the central referendum commission;
  • district referendum commission;
  • precinct referendum commission.

Article 44 of the Law determines the authority of the national referendum commissions.

District referendum commissions are created by the Central Election Commission no later than 40 days before the day of voting on the national referendum, consisting of the head, deputy head, secretary, and other members of the national referendum commission (Article 45 of the Law).

Article 46 of the Law establishes that a precinct referendum commission is created by the respective district referendum commission, no later than 20 days before the day of the voting on the national referendum, consisting of the head, deputy head, secretary, and other members of the referendum commission.

Early withdrawal of authority of a referendum commission or a member of a referendum commission is regulated by Article 51 of the Law.

According to Article 53 of the Law, lists of referendum participants for regular referendum precincts are prepared by the authorities that keep the State Voter Register, according to the Law of Ukraine “On the State Voter Register” and according to the procedure established by the Central Election Commission. The preliminary list of the precinct referendum participants includes citizens of Ukraine that are or will be 18 or more years of age on the day of voting, that hold the right to vote, and whose electoral address is attributed to the respective referendum precinct according to the information in the State Voter Register. A referendum participant can only be included in the list of referendum participants on one referendum precinct.

Expenses related to holding a national referendum, except for expenses related to collecting signatures under the request to hold a national referendum, are financed from the State Budget of Ukraine. Financial support of preparing and holding a national referendum at the expense of the State Budget of Ukraine funds allocated to preparing and holding a national referendum is carried out by the Central Election Commission, being the principal administrator of these funds. The amount of funds for preparing and holding a national referendum by suggestion of the Central Election Commission is provided for by a separate item in the Law on the State Budget of Ukraine, or determined by another law (Article 59 of the Law).

Chapter VII of the Law establishes the guarantees for the work of the referendum process entities and official observers.

According to Article 70 of the Law, referendum campaigning can be held in the following forms:
  • holding meetings with the public, and other meetings with referendum participants;
  • holding rallies, walks, demonstrations and pickets;
  • holding public debates, discussions, round tables and press conference related to the referendum issues and provisions of the official referendum information materials;
  • publishing reports, interviews, skits, video films, audio and video clips, other materials and notices related to the referendum issue, in printed and audiovisual (digital) mass media;
  • distribution of leaflets, posters and other printed campaign materials, or publications containing the referendum campaign materials;
  • public calls to vote for or against the referendum issue, or public evaluations of the nature of the referendum issue;
  • other forms that do not contradict the Constitution and the Laws of Ukraine.

The procedure for voting and establishing the referendum results is determined by Chapter IX of the Law.

According to Article 83 of the Law, if a participant of the national referendum was included in the precinct list of referendum participants, but cannot move independently due to their age, disability or health condition, the precinct referendum commission provides them with an opportunity to vote at the place of their residence (stay).

The grounds and procedure for declaring voting on a referendum precinct invalid by the precinct referendum commission are determined by Article 87 of the Law.

A question taken to a national referendum is considered approved if over half of the referendum participants that took part in the voting voted positively on the question (Article 93 of the Law).

Article 95 of the Law envisages that the results of the expression of the people’s will at a national referendum held by public initiative are final, do not require approval or adoption by any state authorities, and are binding for citizens of Ukraine and the state authorities of Ukraine it is relevant for and in whose scope of authority it is included.

The legal consequences of a national referendum appointed by the President of Ukraine and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine are envisaged by Article 96 of the Law.

Chapter XI of the Law determines the procedure for contesting decisions, actions or inaction in relation to the national referendum process.

According to Article 107 of the Law, persons guilty of violating legislation on the national referendum are brought to disciplinary, administrative or criminal liability, according to the procedure established by law.

The final provisions of the Law provide for declaring ineffective the Law of Ukraine “On the National and Local Referendums” N 1286-XII of July 3, 1991.
Внимание! Информация устарела из-за того, что этот раздел временно не обновляется!


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