Report No. 2 on Results of Long-Term Monitoring. Summary (15.09.–5.10.2014)
- Although the Law “On Election of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” in general allows to hold early parliamentary elections according to international standards, a number of important issues of the election process are not regulated at all, and some of the existing provisions of the law should be improved. In particular, the law does not give the complete answer to the questions of safety assurance for election commissions, transportation of election documentation, voting, vote counting and tabulation in areas controlled by the separatists. The Parliament should immediately submit changes to the Law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” that will strengthen security measures during organization of elections in problem areas and allow the CEC to consider these elections failed if the electoral process does not comply with the legislation on election and international standards.
- The main challenge of early elections is possible disruption in most districts in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Issues of preventing any further attempts to disrupt the elections in districts located in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts controlled by Ukrainian authorities and districts bordering Donetsk, Luhansk oblasts and Autonomous Republic of Crimea are also important. Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) and the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine should carefully analyze existing and potential risks to the electoral process within these regions and implement the plan to minimize these risks, focusing on the safety of voters.
- The CEC carries out its activities on preparation for the early election according to the requirements of the law. Most of the acts required for the proper application of the law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” were adopted by the CEC before the start of election process. The main problem of the CEC is the lack of sufficient financial and human resources to conduct large-scale training of commission members, processing documents submitted by potential participants of the election process for their registration on elections.
- The work of the CEC on registration of candidates gave rise to complaints from candidates, including issues of impartiality of the CEC. Presence of such complaints is natural. On the other hand, a number of the CEC decisions on registration or on refusal of registration of candidates were reviewed in court, and the courts have not always approved the position of the CEC. Documents of some candidates and parties were inspected by the CEC more carefully than of others, which led to opposite decisions in similar cases (decisions on registration V.Khoroshkovskiy, S.Piskun etc.). In future, the CEC should work out a mechanism for interaction with the State Border Service, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the State Penitentiary Service that would allow quickly assess candidates’ data for compliance with the Constitution before making decisions on their registration.
- The problem of stable DEC composition is still so much urgent as it was on the presidential election of 2014. As of early October, more than a quarter of DEC members were changed, and the CEC continues to make changes in DEC composition. Frequent changes of DEC members don’t contribute to proper organization of the electoral process/ It also weakens the effectiveness of training of commission members for organizational issues of elections, organised by the CEC and international donors. In future, the electoral law should be amended in order to limit opportunities to replace commission members by subjects of their nomination to commission.
- In general DECs implement their activities according to the law. In some districts issues of material and technical support of DECs (building, transport, Internet, etc.) are still urgent. There were only some cases that DEC activities were blocked due to lack of quorum at meetings. Main violations of DECs are late submissions of copies of approves decisions and minutes of meetings to the CEC, breaking requirements to announce the results of DEC activities on newsboard, etc.
- Candidates’ registration and campaigning is still followed with unfair practices. In many districts there are so-called “technical” candidates who do not hold campaigning, the real aim of their participation in the electoral process is to retract votes from certain candidates. Registration of so-called “clones”, i.e. candidates with identical last names, and even with identical first and last names, is massive. Many candidates also changed the subjects of their nomination for election, which reveals that the party system wasn’t developed enough, as well as it reveals the level of integrity of such candidates.
- The positive moment of election 2014 is reduction of the use of administrative resources during election by parties and candidates. There only some cases that officials participate in campaign activities.
- On the other hand, the candidates continue the active use of technology of direct and indirect bribery of voters, distributing money, goods, works and services personally or through the network of activists, as well as through their own charitable foundations, networks of specifically employed persons (“brigadiers”, etc.). Bodies of Internal Affairs should give proper legal assessment of these actions. In future administrative and criminal liability for certain actions should also be reinforced.
- Outdoor political advertising without any initial data is quite common during parliamentary elections of 2014, which probably shows the shadow financing of election campaigns. Billboards and other political advertising media with campaigning materials without any initial data are placed by almost all main political forces.
- Taking into account huge volume of television, radio and outdoor advertising, the cost on its production and placement was not significantly reduced compared to previous elections (total cost decreased only due to reduced duration of the electoral process). After the election, the Law “On Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine” should be amended in order to prohibit paid political advertising on television and radio during the election process.
- Agitation is still of very poor content and is built on speculations about war and peace, lustration and other similar topics. Meaningful discussions on directions of country development are not held by political forces.
- The quantity of hidden political advertising in media (so-called “jeans”) is still significant.
- The distinguishing feature of elections in 2014 is violence towards the candidates committed by voters (ejection candidates into garbage, beating, etc.). Law enforcement bodies should carefully examine relevant cases and ensure prosecution of persons who organize and/or fulfil illegal activities, as provided by the law.
- As during presidential election in 2014 damage of campaign materials on outdoor advertising is massive. Law enforcement authorities should take measures to create conditions for free campaigning by parties and candidates, including posting campaign materials on billboards. Destruction or damage of such materials should be a subject of proper legal assessment and bring the perpetrators to justice.
- Cases of “black PR” against certain candidates have not yet become widespread.
- The activities of local authorities on preparation for elections are creating appropriate conditions for election commission’s work. Bodies of State Voter Register in general can provide effective and efficient updates of voter registration database of the State Voter Register. However, these bodies do not sufficiently inform voters about the order of keeping the State Register of Voters, compiling and updating voter lists etc. In future relevant information campaigns should be planned for budgetary funding.