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17.04.2008

Loads of candidates, short on transparency

   

As the official pre-election campaign gets underway, the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) has begun monitoring the early elections called for Mayor of Kyiv and members of the City Council. 

Their first report suggests that while the elections are passing freely and openly, they are not fair to the voters themselves. This is, in the first instance, due to political corruption over the formation of candidate lists and coverage of the campaign in the mass media.

It considers that the idea of holding two-round voting has become the subject of political speculation and is viewed by some politicians as a means of electoral technology.

“The inability of political forces in opposition to the current Mayor to put forward one candidate for the post of Mayor is yet another example of political irresponsibility and failure to keep promises made to the voters.”

The CVU notes that registration of candidates is all according to the law, however is being complicated by the large number of those wishing to stand for office.

It believes that the large number of candidates for the post of Mayor is being artificially instigated by the headquarters of some candidates in order to create chaos in organizing the electoral process and make it possible to disrupt the elections. For example, each of the registered candidates has to be given free broadcasting time and newspaper space in the municipal media, and use State funding to print information posters, with all of this considerably increasing the expense of holding the elections.

CVU once again points out that the candidate lists are being drawn up without transparency and without discussion at conferences with the views of primary organizations being taken into account.  Not even members of the parties involved, not to speak of the public, have full information about the people on the candidate lists. CVU calls on all political forces to publish their pre-election candidate lists with biographic information.

The Committee also considers participation in the elections of people who are not residents of the city ito be incorrect. It points out that although this is not directly prohibited by the Law on Local Elections, it is against the spirit of the Law since there are candidates who are not themselves entitled to vote.

It notes that candidates who are presently Cabinet Ministers or National Deputies cannot work in full capacity within the municipal authorities, and calls of them to publicly state where they will work if elected so as to not deceive the voters.

The Committee notes inaccuracies in drawing up the boundaries of polling areas and other aspects and predicts even greater problems in drawing up electoral lists. It calls on the authorities to give this issue the attention it deserves.

Campaigning and the use of administrative resources

The CVU considers the main problem at the first stage of the campaign to be violations during the use of local and nationwide media, especially electronic, for campaigning. The use of commissioned “news” items has become widespread, with this disseminating incorrect information or concealing information of public significance.

Particular criticism is aimed at the coverage of the campaign in Kyiv municipal media outlets which favour Leonid Chernovetsky (present Mayor), stay silent about the activities of other candidates or resort to downright manipulation.

The Committee calls extra budgetary payments to various categories of the population presently being made by the Kyiv City State Administration as a covert form of buying votes. It does not object to social programmes, but states that they should not be carried out during an electoral campaign. It calls on the Kyiv Administration to put a hold on these payments until after the elections.

It calls on officials of local and central authorities taking part in the elections to take leave until after the elections are over.

From information published at www.cvu.org.ua

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