First comments on the Ternopil regional Council elections
A rather dramatic, and potentially momentous, election took place on 15 March to the Ternopil Regional Council. It resulted in the All-Ukrainian Organization [VO] “Svoboda” receiving 35% of the votes and thus gaining a majority on the Council. The event was significant for three reasons:
- The elections were called because the Councils activities were effectively blocked by conflict between the two parties in control – BYuT [Yulia Tymoshenkos Bloc) and Nasha Ukraine [Our Ukraine];
- Attempts to cancel the elections and a string of court suits until the day before the elections. The claims were made very publicly that the reason for the Governments attempt to cancel the elections was predicted low support for BYuT and likely support for VO “Svoboda”;
- We will be returning to this last subject. Until last Sunday the party VO “Svoboda”, headed by Oleh Tyahnibok, and with a rightwing nationalist and the only political force ethnic proportional representation, had minimal electoral support. During the 2007 parliamentary elections, for example, it received just 0.76% of the votes.
The Committee of Voters [CVU] has reported on all early elections held on 15 March, but gives particular attention to the elections in the Ternopil region and says that 5 mobile CVU groups monitored the voting on Sunday. It reports no major violations which could have influenced the result.
In the Ternopil region elections 52% of voters took part which the Committee considers to be a fairly high turnout since in previous early elections no more than 30-40% of the electorate have used their vote.
VO “Svoboda”; 35%
“Single Centre” 14%
Party of the Regions 10%
Ukrainian Peoples Party (UNP) 8%
Nasha Ukraina 5%
Lytvyns Bloc 4%
CVU outlines the run up to the elections, the decision on 3 March by the Verkhovna Rada to cancel its own resolution from December setting elections. CVU does not focus on the arguments put forth in court, however it is worth mentioning one: the Constitution states that the Verkhovna Rada should set elections, but says nothing about the authority to then cancel them.
- “CVU considers that in the situation with the Ternopil Regional Council elections technology for disrupting elections was used, albeit unsuccessfully. Elements of this process were partisan court rulings (court administrative resource); the use of the law enforcement agencies for political purposes (the police at a certain stage stopped performing their duties as to ensuring protection of the ballot papers); withdrawal of members of polling station electoral committees in order to prevent there being a quorum. However joint efforts by members of the electoral committees, political forces and the public prevented disruption of the elections”;
- The most serious violation the CVU observed was the presence of campaigning material at a time when campaigning was prohibited. “However CVU did receive reports of attempts to bribe voters from one political force and calls on the law enforcement agencies to investigate all such cases. At the present time, CVU sees no grounds for disputing the election results as a whole.”
- “Analyzing the election results, CVU concludes that the political and economic crisis in Ukraine has led to voter disillusionment in the parties presently represented in bodies of power. This in the first instance influenced the drop in popularity of the biggest parties represented in parliament. Over recent times their actions demonstrate that large parliamentary political forces are beginning to avoid direct elections. An attempt was made to cancel the elections to the Ternopil Regional Council, an initiative voiced to lengthen the term of office of present city mayors for another year, as well as talk presently of cancelling direct Presidential elections through constitutional reform. . If all these initiatives are implemented, than the nearest general elections in Ukraine could take place only in two years, this being local elections in March 2011. “
- “CVU is aware that in conditions of crisis the holding of elections is an additional strain on the political and economic situation, however the right of citizens to periodic democratic elections is a fundamental principle set down in international documents. Unlawful extension of period of office and the cancellation of direct elections is a violation of international standards and agreements.”
- “The early elections on 15 March once again demonstrated the need for swift electoral reform in Ukraine. Work needs to be stepped up on creating a voter register since there is a danger that should the electoral campaign begin in autumn 2009, the elections will again take place without a register and with wide-scale mistakes on the lists. A change is needed to the electoral system for parliamentary elections – the introduction of open regional candidate lists. All electoral legislation needs to be brought together into one general Code on the Elections and Referendums which would remove most problems in preparing for the elections”.
Quoted material from the CVU Press Service at www.cvu.org.ua