Committee of Voters criticizes election campaign lack of transparency
The election campaign officially began at the weekend, with elections scheduled for 31 October. Independent observers speak of the lack of transparency of the situation and warn of likely abuse.
Oleksandr Chernenko, Head of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU], cites the lack of time for the campaign, the excessive powers of the Central Election Commission, closed party lists and the restrictions on participation in the observing for civic organizations as factors rendering the present campaign non-transparent.
Mr Chernenko points out also that Ukraine has not invited representatives of the OSCE to observe the elections. Despite this, he says, several dozen observers should be coming, albeit not as part of an official mission.
Despite the somewhat reduced interest from the European community in Ukraine’s local elections, as opposed to parliamentary or presidential, Chernenko says that Western countries will listen to the conclusions of European observers and Ukrainian civic organizations. In his view, the more information about encroachments on democracy, the harsher will be the West’s conclusions. He expressed the hope that the Ukrainian authorities understand this. However he pointed out that a great deal will depend on the behaviour of the local authorities.
Are places in the electoral lists already being sold?
Chernenko says that one already notices the sale by parties of places in their candidate lists. He believes that the scale is smaller than in 2006, but that the prices have risen markedly. In some places with a million-strong population, he thinks a fierce battle is possible for city heads, with each party headquarters spending up to a million dollars.
Chernenko predicts that the Party of the Regions will not be able to establish total control over all local councils. This has been indirectly acknowledged by Prime Minister Azarov. The latter has claimed that the government is not interfering in the electoral process and “will work with all, including representatives of the opposition political forces.”