On the eve of the second round of Presidential elections
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] has issued its assessment of the campaign leading up to the second round of voting in the Presidential elections on 7 February 2010.
On 7 February 2 thousand CVU activists, as journalists of the newspaper “Point of View”, will be observing the elections in 20 regions of the country.
On the basis of its monitoring, CVU notes the following:
- The amendments to the Law on the Presidential Elections which came into force on 5 February 2010 will not enhance the level of democracy and quality of organization of the second round of voting on 7 February. CVU is concerned both at the timing of the adoption of these amendments (a few days before the elections), and because of the content of the changes. It considers that they have infringed the principle of collective decisions in electoral commissions and will give the local authorities additional levels of influence over the decisions of such commissions.
- At the same time CVU believes that on condition that there is clear unwavering adherence by the candidate’s teams, executive bodies and bodies of local self-government, and members of electoral commissions, to legislation and a refusal to carry out destabilizing scenarios, there will still be the possibility of holding honest and transparent elections whose results will reflect the will of the country’s citizens.
- CVU welcomes the appointment of a new member of the Central Election Commission [CEC] which has begun working with a full number of members. CVU stresses however that CEC has still not provided the necessary explanations as to the procedure enabling precinct electoral committees [PEC] to add voters to the voter list on Election Day. CVU does not find warranted the CEC Resolution which obliges voters who are recorded in the voter list as “unable to move by themselves” to write an additional application to not make their vote at a polling station.
- The formation of district and precinct electoral commissions was carried out within the timeframe and in the manner established by legislation. CVU notes a higher professional level of the members of electoral commissions (with 70-80% having experience of such work during the first round of voting). At the same time the work of electoral commissions in many regions is characterized by a fairly high level of conflict and distrust between its members and by mutual recriminations which do not promote the normal work of the commission.
- Problems remain with material and technical provisions for the work of electoral commissions. There are problems with property (booths, boxes, stationary, stamps) being handed over from the previous PEC since the heads of the former PEC often refuse to cooperation. CVU also predicts that due to a decrease in the number of members of PEC, the preparation and organization of voting will be hampered, which could lead to queues at polling stations and a dragging out of the vote count. An additional problem could be bad weather conditions on Election Day.
- During the period between the first and second round of voting the number of recorded instances where administrative resources were used to support candidates and of the use of “black PR” considerably rose. Most civil servants, heads of enterprises and institutions came out in support of a particular candidate and used their official position for campaigning, and sometimes to exert pressure on their subordinates. In all regions, CVU recorded numerous cases where campaigning material of a defamatory nature against opponents was circulated. The teams of both candidates were equally guilty of such abuse.
- CVU predicts large-scale use of techniques for election teams to mobilize their voters and create artificial obstructions for those voting for their opponent. Preparation of municipal and private transportation to get people to the polling stations is already under way. CVU stresses that if the transportation of voters is not accompanied by campaigning, this is not an infringement of the law. At the same time any obstruction (bribery, threats) to voters exercising their right to vote is a criminal offence.
The threats to honest and democratic elections
· The greatest threats to the democratic nature of the second round of voting in the Presidential elections lie in the amendments passed to the Law on the Presidential Elections. If the candidates’ teams resort to abuse of the amendments, then the balance of interests of the two candidates will be effectively shattered. One can also not exclude the split of electoral commissions into two parts, each regarding itself legitimate.
· The issues of the procedure for voting outside the confines of polling stations and of adding voters to the voter lists on Election Day through PEC decisions remain unresolved. During the first round cases of abuse were recorded during these procedures however they were not of a widespread nature. At the same time CVU cannot exclude the possibility that such methods will be used more widely during the second round.
· CVU found cases in some regions of preparation to bribe voters. The bribes are aimed both at gaining support for a candidate, and at reducing the turnout with people not taking part in the voting.
· One of the threats to establishing the objective results of the election are attempts to artificially spoil voting papers and ballot boxes in order to have the votes of a large number of people declared void.
The Committee of Voters of Ukraine recommends that:
- The Central Election Commission ensure maximum transparency and adherence to the law during the voting and vote count, and provide explanation regarding the procedure for including voters on the list on Election Day.
- Members of district and precinct electoral commissions treat the process of voting and vote count responsibly, remain calm during conflict, act professionally and solely within the constraints of current legislation and ensure to the best of their abilities that voters may exercise their right to free and secret exercise of their electoral will.
- Local and international observers carefully follow and react to infringements of electoral legislation while not interfering in the work of electoral commissions and not provoking conflict.
- Law enforcement agencies ensure public order during the voting and swiftly respond to violations of electoral legislation
- Candidates’ teams ensure control over the honest running of the elections rejecting unlawful interference in the electoral process and destabilizing scenarios.
- Voters demonstrate civic activity on Election Day, treat the work of electoral commissions with understanding and not infringe electoral legislation.
CVU Press Service from the Ukrainian here: doc1265366221CVU_reliz_05.02.10.doc (44Kb)