Committee of Voters concerned over election process
On 19 October a press conference was held in Kyiv regarding the official start to the pre-election campaign. During it, the Head of the Board of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU], Oleksandr Chernenko pointed out the following:
- On 19 October the election campaign for Ukrainian President officially commenced. Analysis of the political process which preceded the official start of the campaign demonstrates an extremely low level of political discussion and augurs ill for the subsequent course of the campaign.
- CVU finds that the majority of participants in the presidential election campaign lack the political will to carry out democratic, transparent and honest elections in adherence to Ukraine’s legislation, international standards and moral and ethical norms.
- As of 19 October all previous threats to the holding of fair and democratic elections remain in place: changes have not been made to the Law on the Presidential Elections; the Law on the State Budget for 2010 has not been passed; and the powers have not been suspended of the member of the Central Election Commission who has reached retirement age.
- Legislation on the Presidential elections received an extremely negative assessment from the Venice Commission as well as in the OSCE / ODIHR Needs assessment mission report ahead of the 17 January 2010 presidential election in Ukraine. According to a number of media reports, the Constitutional Court is planning to find a number of provisions in the Law on the Presidential Elections unconstitutional. CVU calls on Ukraine’s National Deputies during the next plenary week to make the necessary changes to electoral legislation in accordance with the recommendations of international structures and Ukrainian experts, as well as the results of the judgment from the Constitutional Court.
- CVU is concerned over processes which can be described as the return of censorship in national and regional media. CVU has on many occasions spoken out against the onslaught of “commissioned” material in the media. However recently signs of direct censorship have emerged. According to unofficial information from journalists in some editorial offices, there are “filters” on mention of certain names, while editors and top managers of the media take part in special meetings of electoral party headquarters.
- From 19 October, in accordance with the Law on the Presidential Elections, any electoral campaigning up till the moment of registration of candidates with the Central Election Commission is prohibited. Yet CVU’s monitoring in Kyiv and regions of Ukraine show that with few exceptions, external advertising for potential candidates has remained intact. CVU considers that in this way political teams are infringing the spirit of electoral legislation and the principle of equal opportunities for all candidates. CVU calls on the Central Election Commission and the law enforcement agencies to react in appropriate manner to these violations.
- On 19 October the Central Election Commission will approve the boundaries of electoral voting districts. During October regional councils have provided the Commission with their recommendations regarding these boundaries. However, according to CVU estimates, regional councils have taken a merely formal approach in this procedure, without taking into account the negative experience of previous election campaigns. On the basis of proposals from regional councils, districts will have a disproportionate number of polling areas, and the distance from precinct election commissions to the district one in many cases will exceed 100 kilometres which seriously impedes communication on voting day.