Article by: Yevhen Solonyna
The biggest challenge for this year’s parliamentary campaign will be the attempts to disrupt or manipulate the results of the elections in Donbas and in adjacent regions said head of the Donetsk and Luhansk regional organizations of the Ukrainian Committee of Voters Serhiy Tkachenko on Friday.
“There are no obstacles for the democratic and transparent nature of the electoral process like there have been at previous elections. If there are negative factors, they will have to do with voting in Donbas and the closeness of combat,” says the UCV representative. “There are also attempts to manipulate the process: in particular, to sign off all organizational errors as consequences of security measures and combat.”
Because of this situation, according to Serhiy Tkachenko, in some electoral districts there is no appropriate competition between various political parties, in some there is the elementary threat to the lives and safety of the committee members at all levels, as well as observers. According to the UCV, out of the 32 districts in Donbas, voting can only take place in nine, however for the sake of electoral committee safety, they were moved further away from the conflict zone, reports executive director of the UCV Vitaly Teslenko.
He emphasizes that this situation evoked certain difficulties in the work of these district committees, and he fears that certain candidates will make attempts to take advantage of the unused ballots to falsify or disrupt the elections at individual polls, where their opponents receive the majority of votes. The UCV calls for the military to counter such attempts, however they do not see full readiness to do this.
The main violations: incorrect advertising and bribery?
Meanwhile, Opora network gave its own evaluation to the electoral race. In a published report, Opora documented 502 instances of electoral law violations on part of the candidates and parties. Out of those, most of the incidents deal with violating the rules of pre-electoral advertising (212 instances), voter bribery takes second place (117 instances), abuse of administrative resource usage is somewhat rarer (84 instances), as well as forceful intervention in the electoral process (74 instances). Meanwhile, the observers did not document mass violations, or those which would have a significant influence on the result of the polls, assures Opora network coordinator Olga Ayvazovska.
The current parliamentary elections in Ukraine will be principally different from the several previous ones, because they will be held during times of combat, and because falsifications will not play a key role in them, noted political expert Olexandr Paliy in a commentary to Radio Liberty.
“The elections are happening in conditions of war and a GDP nosedive of 8% because of the annexation of Crimea and combat, they are happening under circumstance of collapse of the previous political model. Thanks to the latter factor, there is no mass demand for falsification, which has not happened in Ukraine for many years,” Paliy concludes. “The electoral race will be very swift. And not all political parties will turn out to be prepared for them.”
According to the political expert, the situation in Ukraine now is that people from the previous government have very low support rates. Meanwhile, the democratic parties, including new ones, do not correspond to social demand, which now surpasses the politicians in terms of development levels, and this is the biggest threat to the current parliamentary campaign, Paliy thinks.
However, him and other political experts emphasize that such a rift between the elites and society are an illness of growth, and as such, it will gradually decrease. According to most experts, a more concrete threat is the possibility of armed attacks on district committees, terrorist acts or Russian army and mercenary attacks on pre-front cities on election day. Political experts and military servicemen do not exclude the possibility of attempts initiated by separatists to start shooting in the streets of some cities for the people to be afraid of going to the polls. Meanwhile the SBU reports that it prevented several terrorist attacks on election day, having arrested the organizers and executors.