16:35 23.07.2019

Parliamentary elections well administered overall, despite minor violations

4 min read
Parliamentary elections well administered overall, despite minor violations

Based on observations on election day in the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine, observers of the mission of the International Republican Institute (IRI, International Republican Institute) consider that the elections passed generally well, and to support the promotion of the democratic development of Ukraine, they urge to solve a number of problematic issues to provide for inclusion and increasing the level of confidence in their results.

"The International Republican Institute's 35-member delegation of short-term observers found the parliamentary elections held on July 21 to be well administered overall despite minor, seemingly non-systemic violations observed throughout the day," a report published by the IRI observers on Monday, following the results of the extraordinary parliamentary elections held in Ukraine on Sunday says.

Observers said that in these elections, Ukraine's third national election in four months, voters were generally able to express their will and continue their call for sweeping political change in their country.

At the same time, the IRI recommends that the Ukrainian authorities pay attention and resolve a number of problematic issues identified during the electoral process.

"Recommendation 1: Although Ukrainian authorities deserve credit for streamlining the process through which voters may register temporary voting addresses prior to Election Day, the inability of these voters to express their will in single-mandate constituencies effectively denied these citizens half their voice. The political inclusion of the 16-percent of Ukrainians residing under Russian occupation or displaced by the conflict, for whom this restriction was in place, must be a priority for authorities," the observers' report says.

The IRI also recommends that the Ukrainian authorities develop more stringent requirements for registration by candidates and verification by persons of the name change in order to prevent fake candidates from participating in the electoral process or their "cloning."

In addition, the observer mission of the IRI draws attention to the problem of compliance with the law of Ukraine on parliamentary elections in terms of the prohibition of campaigning on the day before the elections - on the day of silence. "Billboards and other campaign materials were witnessed on the day of silence. Consequently, further clarification on how campaign activities and materials are defined is necessary in order to address efforts to circumvent both the written law and the spirit of the law on campaign silence prior to Election Day," the report reads.

The IRI also recommends that the current law on the election of the President of Ukraine and the draft Electoral Code of Ukraine be changed to protect the role of groups of domestic observers in Ukrainian electoral processes. In particular, they should require observers intending to observe Ukrainian electoral processes to agree on certain basic requirements, such as compliance with international election standards.

"Clearly the Ukrainian people continue to support President Zelensky and his reform agenda, as reflected by the extremely high percentage of votes for his political party in these elections," said Stephen B. Nix, IRI Eurasia Director.

At the same time, he noted that the timing of these elections may have caused a decrease in voter turnout. "With summer holidays ongoing, political parties and candidates, particularly those with less experience, had less time to prepare. Election commissions had less time to train new members, and those with travel plans—including voters—may have been unavailable to participate," said Nix.

As noted in the IRI press release, the Kremlin' s intervention is constantly repeated in the Ukrainian elections. "Kremlin interference has been a recurring issue in Ukrainian elections. The most glaring form continues to be the Russian Federation's ongoing occupation of Ukrainian territory, from Crimea to parts of Donbas region, which precluded election authorities from being able to administer elections in all regions of the country. Its overt aggression against Ukraine has threatened to disenfranchise 16 percent of voters—12 percent residing in occupied regions and 4 percent that have been displaced by the war," the press release reads.

"IRI commends the Central Election Commission for organizing a national election in a very short period of time and for including measures to streamline the registration procedures for these voters affected by the conflict," said Judy Van Rest, IRI Executive Vice President.

The 35-person mission for these elections comprised 17 teams of observers and the areas of responsibility for IRI's short-term observers were the cities of Chernihiv, Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Zaporizhia, Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Kherson, Odesa, Lutsk, Poltava, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr, Khmelnytsky, and areas throughout Kyiv region. These areas were selected in consultation with the U.S. Agency for International Development for their particular relevance to the current political context in Ukraine.

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