18:16 24.10.2023

Decision on elections during war can be made after studying other countries' experience – Stefanchuk

3 min read
Decision on elections during war can be made after studying other countries' experience – Stefanchuk

The decision on the possible holding of elections in Ukraine during martial law can be made after studying similar experience in other countries, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Ruslan Stefanchuk has said.

"I turned to my fellow parliamentarians from many parliaments with a request: please give me the experience of your parliaments, how you conducted or did not conduct elections during the war. And now we are exchanging these experiences. I think that in the near future we will have some kind of decision," Stefanchuk said at a joint press conference with the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament Markéta Pekarová Adamová on Tuesday in Prague.

He said in a democratic country like Ukraine, holding elections "is crucial so that there is no stagnation in power."

"But at the same time, there are certain inconsistencies in Ukrainian legislation regarding the possibility or impossibility of holding elections both at the parliamentary and presidential levels. We are now discussing these issues," the Ukrainian parliament's chairman said.

According to Stefanchuk, in order to hold elections during the war, it is necessary to solve "five or six" essential problems, the first of which is how to ensure the right to vote and be elected to government agencies of Ukrainian servicemen.

"Since holding elections without the participation of servicemen who today defend Ukrainian soil is an unfair election," Stefanchuk said.

The second issue that needs to be resolved in order to hold elections, according to the Verkhovna Rada chairman, is how Ukrainian refugees, of whom there are about 7 million today outside Ukraine, will take part in voting.

"The third key question is how we can organize elections in the temporarily occupied territories. The fourth issue is, of course, the financing of elections," Stefanchuk said.

According to him, the issue of financing is important, since every penny of the Ukrainian budget goes to the Ukrainian army.

"The fifth issue is the possibility of free access to media. And during this period, we need to understand how to ensure free access to the media, but at the same time prevent Russia from using freedom of speech to spread its narratives within the country," the Ukrainian parliament's chairman said.

Stefanchuk also said there are even smaller issues regarding the conduct of elections.

"But I think when we find answers to these key five [questions], Ukraine can decide to hold elections," Stefanchuk said.

In turn, Markéta Pekarová Adamová considers the main thing in holding elections during the war to be Ukraine's guarantee of free choice for all its citizens.

"We need to think very carefully about the election system if they are held within a certain time frame. And then there is the issue of security... When people come to the premises where the elections will be held, they will become a very easy target for the aggressor. I am convinced, knowing the cynicism of Russia, that this can happen. Russia chooses hospitals and maternity hospitals for its purposes. Elections are another risk when Russia can take advantage of the situation," the spokesperson of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament said.