News / 30 November 2012 | 16:09
PACE: Elections in Ukraine were marred by a tilted playing field
The PACE Committee to observe the parliamentary elections in Ukraine concluded that parliamentary elections in Ukraine were marred by a tilted playing field and that irregularities in the counting procedure in a considerable number of majority constituencies are liable to vitiate the whole electoral process.
Such conclusions are outlined in the Election observation report of the ad hoc Committee of the Bureau.
“The ad hoc committee concluded that the 28 October 2012 parliamentary elections in Ukraine were marred by a tilted playing field which contributed to the dominance of the major economic and financial groups, particularly because of the misuse of administrative resources and a lack of transparency in the financing of the election campaign and of the parties, but also owing to an imbalance in the media coverage. The voters had a choice of different parties and a large number of candidates who had been able to register, thus catering for a wide variety of political views,” the document reads.
The report notes, that election day, October 28, “was quiet”.
“The members of the ad hoc committee noted the well-ordered running of the election, finding that, on the whole, the voting and vote-counting operations were conducted in a professional and calm manner,” the PACE said.
However, the observers pay attention to the fact that the situation worsened during the calculation of results in a considerable number of majority constituencies, which led to long delays in the counting procedure.
“In this connection, the ad hoc committee expresses its grave concern and considers that these irregularities are liable to vitiate the whole electoral process,” the report reads.
The committee voiced other serious problems: misuse of administrative resources, the distribution of fake newspapers, cases of distribution of material goods to voters, the presence of so-called “technical” candidates.
“The ad hoc committee is convinced that these phenomena are unhelpful in terms of building voter confidence in the electoral process,” the document mentions.
In addition, the ad hoc committee regrets that the elections took place against the background of the cases involving Ms Timoshenko and Mr Lutsenko, two major opposition figures who are currently serving prison sentences.
“In connection with party funding and the financing of the election campaign, the ad hoc committee recalls that during the 2010 presidential election, it voiced its concern about “the place of money and oligarchies in politics in Ukraine in general and in the election process in particular”. This reality appears to have reached even more alarming proportions during this election campaign.
Unfortunately, many Ukrainian citizens are seeing the political “combat” as a struggle between different clans and their financials interests rather than between competing platforms and ideas,” the PACE points out a problem.
In addition, the ad hoc committee considers that on the whole the CEC operated satisfactorily, although the CEC also held some meetings behind closed doors.
The ad hoc committee considers that the Parliamentary Assembly should continue its close co-operation with the Ukrainian Parliament and institutions, by means of its monitoring procedure, and with the Venice Commission, in order to resolve the problems noted during the parliamentary elections on 28 October 2012 and to further consolidate the whole electoral process.
With this objective, the PACE gives series of recommendation, including: adoption of a unified electoral code, preferably before the next elections; reformation of the electoral system in order to allow small parties to enjoy some measure of electoral success, in particular by improving regional representation and increasing voters’ influence over their representatives in parliament, by adopting a multi-constituency proportional representation system based on open party lists.
It is also recommended to fully implement the recommendations of the Assembly and those of GRECO issued in October 2011, in order to reinforce the transparency of political party and election campaign financing. In addition, the PACE advise to conduct investigations into all allegations of misuse of administrative resources and other electoral irregularities, and publish the results of these investigations.
The ad hoc committee calls on Ukrainian authorities to conduct investigations into the irregularities noted in the majority constituencies where the election results had to be cancelled, to establish the responsibilities of the authors of these irregularities and to inform the Assembly of the outcome as soon as possible.
It is also recommended to draw a clear distinction between the State administration and the political parties in office; take the requisite steps to guarantee media pluralism during electoral campaigns; examine the means of simplifying the long, complex vote- and ballot-counting procedures on the day of the election; organise training courses for members of the polling stations, particularly in rural areas, in order to improve their command of procedures on election day.
“The Assembly is prepared to assist Ukraine in implementing these important electoral reforms,” the report emphasizes.