Kyiv, Ukraine – IRI’s election observation delegation found that Ukraine’s January 17, 2010, presidential election broadly met international standards and represents a positive step forward in building democratic institutions in Ukraine.
Based on the reports of IRI’s observers, election officials administered the election in an effective and efficient manner even though last minute changes to the election law and regulations caused confusion about the law and its interpretation.
IRI found that the campaign period was competitive and open, with a wide range of political parties and candidates participating. Candidates held numerous rallies, campaigning on issues of importance to the Ukrainian electorate, and had access to both electronic and print media. Importantly, the use of administrative resources for campaign purposes was largely absent.
However, there are several areas of the electoral process that need to be improved if Ukraine is to continue in its democratic development and instill greater transparency and public trust in the electoral process. Rules and procedures need to be agreed on well in advance of campaigns so that all participants know the rules. With the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the Law on the Election of the President of Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Parliament’s subsequent failure to amend the law accordingly, Ukrainian parties, candidates and election commission workers were left in a position of uncertainty regarding certain sections of the actual law governing the election right up to and including the day of the election.
Voter lists continue to be a problem in Ukraine elections. While Ukraine is to be congratulated for creating its first centralized, electronic voter registry, there remain outstanding issues of list maintenance and accuracy.
The issue of mobile voting also contributed to some confusion on the day of the election because of conflicting rulings regarding standards of eligibility. The election law must clearly state the criteria and requirements for voters to be eligible to vote at home. Given instances of mobile voting fraud in previous presidential elections, taking such steps will increase public confidence in the integrity of the vote.
It may be difficult to fully address these concerns before the February 7 presidential runoff election. However, it is imperative for Ukraine, a country that has held seven national elections since 1994, to correct these issues before the next election cycle.
IRI will issue a final, comprehensive report in the near future.
IRI’s international delegation included representatives from Europe and the United States. Delegates monitored more than 100 polling stations in Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, Odesa, Zakarpattya and Zhytomyr oblasts, as well as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
A delegation sponsored by IRI was led by former U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe, a member of IRI’s Board of Directors. Other delegates were Ron Ebensteiner, former Chairman of the Minnesota Republican Party; Charlie Greenleaf, former White House Advisor and Vice President of Michigan State University; Marik Angelo Frens-String, foreign affairs expert; Rich Galen, former Communications Director for Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; Bill Nojay, attorney at Hiscock & Barclay in Rochester, New York; Zygimantas Pavilionis, Diplomatic Service Member of the Foreign Ministry of Lithuania; and Bill Phillips, a public relations specialist.
IRI staff also served as observers and assisted in the mission. IRI staff were led by Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President of IRI, Stephen B. Nix, Regional Director for IRI’s Eurasia division and Chris Holzen, Resident Country Director for IRI in Ukraine.
Since 1993, IRI has worked to help strengthen political parties and good governance in Ukraine at both national and local levels. IRI also works with youth, women and civil society to increase their participation in the political process. IRI monitored Ukraine’s 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2007 parliamentary elections. In addition, IRI monitored the country’s 1994, 1999 and 2004 presidential elections.
IRI has monitored more than 140 elections since 1983.Top