OPORA: 525 infringements of electoral legislation in September
On Wednesday the election watchdog OPORA published its sixth monitoring report as well as a graph breaking down the types of infringements of electoral legislation.
In September OPORA monitors found:
179 cases where administration resources were used
126 cases of bribing voters
123 cases where political activities were obstructed
77 cases of dishonest campaigning
12 cases where the enforcement agencies were used
9 cases of pressure on the media
OPORA states that “as a result of wide-scale use of administrative resources in favour of certain parties and candidates, the possibilities for competitive and open political struggle between election players is extremely restricted. OPORA observers have on many occasions recording infringements of the principle of equal electoral rights which already at this stage of the campaign seriously undermines confidence in the electoral process from both the Ukrainian public and the international community”.
At this stage in the campaign, OPORA can also conclude that legislative restrictions on voter bribery are ineffective. The legislative failings are exacerbated by the passiveness of the law enforcement agencies, as well as the lack of established court practice on identifying such cases and establishing all the circumstances of the infringement. Courts in different parts of the country issue different rulings over similar
Precinct electoral commissions [PEC] were formed in a manner that was incomprehensible for most of the public, without transparency or proper control. A considerable percentage of the members of district electoral commissions [DEC] who carried out the draw did not follow the established order of actions.
The changes by the Central Election Committee in the procedure for the draw made 5 days before it was to take place adversely affected the process as a whole and passed on negative practice with the one-off draw which was used for both DEC and PEC.
Although pressure on election participants by the law enforcement agencies is episodic and not systemic, cases do arouse concern and destabilize the electoral process in the electoral districts.
OPORA says that cases where journalists are threatened or obstructed by candidates are not widespread. The conflict between TVi and the tax authorities, however, adversely affected perception of the level of freedom of speech in Ukraine and of protection of the right to full information about the election process.
Infringements in campaigning activities are frequent and go unpunished. In the majority of cases this concerns unlawful participation of public officials or foreign nationals in campaigning as well as infringements regarding permitted places and forms of campaigning activities. OPORA says that such dishonest behaviour is often not challenged by opponents since the penalties are small.
Black PR, it says, has become one of the key weapons of the political struggle. OPORA also points to a rapid increase in the number of measures aimed at obstructing candidates’ participation in the electoral campaign. The most common are refusals to allow meetings with voters and work collectives, illegally breaking agreements on posting external advertising or hiring premises for campaigning purposes.