Ukraine elections 2014: Press release by CVU and OPORA on the first stage of election campaign

 

Kyiv, 30th April 2014: Kyiv, 30 April 2014: Based on the results of a long-term observation during the first stage of election campaign for the 2014 Presidential elections in Ukraine, the two monitoring organisations: the all-Ukrainian non-governmental organisation “Committee of Voters of Ukraine” (CVU) and the Civil Network OPORA came up with their conclusions.

 

According to CVU, in a number of regions, the political situation remains unstable. Activity of illegal paramilitary groups, clashes of pro-Russian radicals with citizens and law enforcement bodies complicate election preparations and may invalidate elections in certain regions. According to the law “On Elections of the President of Ukraine,” election results can be established regardless of the number of precincts where the elections were not held or where voting was declared invalid.

 

In order to provide proper electoral legitimacy, law enforcement bodies should enact additional measures to further ensure voting, including vote tabulation and assessment of voting results in problematic regions (in particular, in Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kharkiv oblasts).

 

The idea of holding the early presidential elections on the same day as the national referendum should be critically assessed. First, currently, there is no constitutional ground for the acting President to adopt the outcome of such a referendum. Second, the existing wording of the law “On all-Ukrainian Referendum” does not allow the referendum to be held in accordance with international standards, because a number of the Law’s provisions are contrary to the Constitution, and legal regulation of the referendum procedures is very poor. Third, the short period of time from announcement of the referendum to the day of voting does not provide voters with enough time to learn the procedure and issues of the referendum.

 

Anational survey (announced 30.04.2014 by the Prime Minister of Ukraine) will concern issues of national unity, territorial integrity and decentralization. The Prime Minister proposed to hold the survey on election day for the President of Ukraine (25.05.2014). The survey is designed to calm the situation in eastern Ukraine. However, election experts conclude that conducting the survey on the same say as the elections will complicate the procedure of voting and vote counting, as well as the work of election commissions.

 

For these reasons, CVU recommends that the all-Ukrainian referendum not be held on the same day as the Presidential and, in some cases, early (midterm) local elections.

 

Candidates for the President of Ukraine are not conducting active pre-election campaigns.

 

The CVU report is available HERE

 

As for the Presidential races, OPORA states that the candidates seem to understand that Ukrainian voters are focused on important current events, which means that excessive use of traditional advertising may work against the candidates. Therefore, we can conclude that the candidates concentrate their efforts in the central, southern, and eastern oblasts of Ukraine, where they use non-standard campaigning tools.

 

Extremist activities complicate the conduct of election campaigning and create obstacles for the organization of the election process. A large part of the voters are living in fear and are threatened, which complicates their involvement in the electoral campaign. While the socio-political situation is unstable due to military aggression of the Russian Federation, campaigning is often accompanied by manifestation of intolerance, which may cause social conflicts and violence.

 

Local and regional media are not very active in covering the electoral process, limiting their campaign coverage to publication of campaign materials and coverage of the overall context of elections. Materials relating to the presidential campaign are mainly published after the arrival of a candidate to the region and are accompanied by political advertising in the local media. Media focuses primarly on events in Ukraine’s southeastern regions. Placing of political advertising in print media without proper labelling remains a problem, as does the placement of election advertising on the same page with commercial or social advertising. Such cases have been often recorded in Kirovohrad and Zhytomir regions. As a whole, media coverage of events related to the election remains balanced.

 

The conduct of electoral process is stable for the time being, although we continue to observe intensive personnel rotations in district election commissions (DEC). As of 25 April 2014, the Central Election Commission has passed six resolutions on changes in membership of DECs. 819 members of 4,164, or 20%, have been already replaced. The largest number of members was substituted by the following candidates: Nataliia Korolevska – 87 substitutions (41%); Vasyl Tsushko – 81 substitutions (38%); and Vadym Rabinovych – 72 substitutions (40%). However, Renat Kuzmin has substituted the largest percentage of commission members representing him – 60% (49 of 82 persons). Nevertheless, the commissions are authoritative, fulfill their duties, and pass the corresponding decisions.

 

OPORA’s latest news are available HERE. More information at: +380 44 286 26 70, info@opora.org.ua.

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