Competitive elections despite serious shortcomings and imperfect election legislation - EPDE Experts' Discussion after the Local elections in Kyiv 27 October 2015
On October 27 2015 EPDE hold an experts' discussion in Kyiv on specific problems of the recent local elections.
Arkadi Lubarev from GOLOS Moscow analysed the new law on local election in Ukraine. The law was adopted only shortly before the elections in a non-inclusive manner without broad public discussion. It is an almost literal copy of the law on local elections which was applied for the St.Petersburg city council elections 2007-2011. The law is not only complicated but even misleading for voters as it pretends to provide open lists whereas in reality the voters de facto have no opportunity to vote for single candidates on the party list. Arkadi Lubarev would not recommend to apply this law neither for the elections to the Verkhovna Rada nor to another local elections in Ukraine.
Steffen Hallig from the German think tank SWP reported on the conduct of elections in Eastern Ukraine. Compared to the last local elections in 2010 the 2015 elections took place in a more competitive way, no systematic election fraud was observed during election-day by local citizens’ observers. Of main concern was the fact that in a series of regions no elections could be hold and that the voter turnout was generally low. On the other hand the generally increased public awareness may contribute to a better control on reform processes in Eastern Ukraine.
Anton Shekhovtsov from Legatum Institute London researched on the conduct of election observation through “fake observers” – individuals or whole missions that do not adhere to international standards of election observation but aim to legitimise falsified elections. Whereas still during the referenda in the DNR, LNR and the Crimea several of such missions made politically motivated statements since 2014 these organisations have retired from the Ukrainian context. Still there is the danger that if ever elections will be hold in the Donbass in 2016 fake observation missions will appear there. International civil society and parliaments should develop mechanisms to detect and sanctions such activities.
Ol'ha Aivazovska, director of the civil network OPORA underpinned the need for a substantial reform of the law on local elections. The ca 1,5 mio IDPs in Ukraine should be granted the right to vote. She interprets the problems on election day in Krasnoarmeisk and Mariupol where elections were not held as the result of a lack of political will to conduct elections there.
EPDE will publish the final reports of the experts in November 2015.