CVU Observers’ Report for July
On 27 July the Committee of Voters of Ukraine [CVU] released its long-term observers’ report on the preparations for the October parliamentary elections.
It states that despite the Central Election Commission [CEC] having passed a number of subordinate acts aimed at ensuring implementation of the Law on the Parliamentary Elections [the Law], the legal basis for organizing and holding the elections remains flawed. The Law on the Parliamentary Elections contains a number of flaws regarding:
- stipulation of the grounds for refusing to register a candidate;
- organization of the voting;
- organization of the vote count and establishing the results at foreign polling stations.
Instead of removing failings in the Law, on 5 July parliament adopted Law No. 10681 which envisages using video footage during the voting and vote counting at ordinary polling stations. This law if it is passed by the President will not have a significant impact on the transparency of the voting and vote counting at polling stations, while still further heightening the discrepancies in legislation regulating elections. Furthermore, the provisions of that law are of a framework nature entailing the need for additional measures for its implementation (amendments to the Law on the Parliamentary Elections, adoption of the relevant acts by the CEC, etc).
As in June this year, there were considerable difference in the level of activity and types of preparation for the elections in different regions.
CVU again stresses the need at national level, for example, for the President, to take measures aimed at activating such work in all regions, as well as in standardizing the forms of this work.
Preparation for putting forward parliamentary candidates is on the whole taking place in competitive conditions. All political parties and potential candidates for single-mandate electoral districts have largely been able to carry out campaigning, depending on their own capacity.
Concern is, however, elicited by some cases of pressure on candidates, on businesses or media linked with them seen in a number of regions.
CVU once again stresses that it is inadmissible to actively engage civil servants in campaigning for potential candidates. The principle that the authorities and public officials show no bias with respect to candidates is a vital component of equal electoral rights, and its observance in practice is one of the prerequisites for finding elections in keeping with democratic standards. For this reason CVU stresses that the President and high-ranking State bodies should take additional measures (including of a disciplinary and staffing nature) aimed at restricting the participation of officials in the election campaign.
CVU is positive about the practice initiated by some parties of holding primaries when putting forward candidates. Such primaries, however, should be held in accordance with the best foreign practice, and not used as political technology or as a pretext for election campaigning.
It also praises the way some parties have made information public about which candidates they plan to put forwards in single-mandate electoral districts and under party lists. This practice should be still further extended. However, CVU notes, overall the preparation for putting forward candidates on party lists is taking place in secrecy.
Although there is considerably more campaigning, this is not seen in real communication between politicians and potential voters. As in previous months, the campaigning is largely through advertising on the radio or television, organizing large-scale events (concerts, festivals, etc); giving away items; getting “image-making” material published in the media with these bearing the hallmarks of concealed political advertising.
Campaigning with the hallmarks of indirect bribery of voters remains widespread in all regions being carried out by candidates from virtually all political parties.
CVU is forced once again to stress that the restrictions imposed by law on campaigning with such hallmarks of indirect bribery should not only apply to the actual candidates, but to political activity carried out during the period between elections. Appropriate penalties should also be applied.
Of particular concern are cases of direct bribing of voters which is beginning to be seen in some regions. Such incidents should not be left unchecked and there must be adequate response from the law enforcement bodies.
The full report is available in Ukrainian at: