International observers: Serious doubts about elections’ fairness
Markus Meckel, Head of the Civil Society Election Observation Mission announced on Monday that “despite all the shortcomings, the election process was competitive, and this allowed voters to express their political preferences."
The Mission believed that the elections had been run properly and had generally be peaceful. On the other hand, Mr Meckel said, there had been significant abuse of power by some officials which had seriously influenced the elections’ fairness.
He mentioned also the imprisonment of opposition leaders - Yulia Tymoshenko and Yury Lutsenko. Despite some imprisonments in the election process, these development place in question the general fairness of the democratic process in Ukraine.
Nor, he said, had political parties enjoyed equal opportunities particularly in the media. Aside from Internet publications, the media had not provided balanced information. He mentioned the clear bias in favour of those in power on television channels.
There were frequent issues with use of administrative resources by the ruling Party of the Regions. This included pressure on public sector workers; employees of state enterprises; as well as situations where a project receiving public funding was presented to the public and voters as an achievement of candidates from the ruling party.
The lack of transparency and effective rules on funding election campaigns to the Verkhovna Rada gave additional advantages to public officials from those in power.
The Civil Society Election Observation Mission consider that the introduction of single-mandate electoral districts had a pretty negative impact on the elections given the political situation and specific experience of the country. This intensified political polarization in the country and increased risks linked with vote-buying, the use of black PR, intimidation of potential candidates and the use of administrative resource, all of which was demonstrated by the reports coming in.
A number of failings with the CEC had adversely affected preparation for the elections. The formation of precinct electoral commissions on the basis of a draw resulted in there not being a balanced representation of the key political parties. The results of the draw had been the main source of official complaints.
“Significant abuse by people in power of their privileged position seriously influence the honesty of the entire electoral process.
The Civil Society Election Observation Mission is made up of observers from NGOs from Poland (the Stefan Batory Foundation); Germany (European Exchange) and Lithuania (the Centre for Eastern-European Research). It is headed by Marcus Meckel and former Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski.