Kyiv, Ukraine – IRI’s election observation delegation found that Ukraine’s September 30, 2007, parliamentary elections broadly met international standards. However, problems continue to negatively affect the electoral process, some seen in previous elections and some particular to Sunday’s elections. The delegation urges the government, parliament, election officials and the courts to resolve these issues well in advance of the 2009 presidential election.
Despite the problems, IRI’s delegation wishes to note some positive aspects. Election officials at polling stations and territorial commissions should be commended for providing a calm, peaceful environment on Election Day. The major political parties should also be commended for their efforts in the process; party activists served as members of polling station commissions, territorial election commissions and as observers.
IRI found that during the campaign period, parties and candidates were allowed to campaign freely and had access to media outlets. Journalists were allowed to cover the campaign without undue interference, and parties were able to purchase time on television, radio and in newspapers without restriction.
Importantly, the use of administrative resources during the campaign was limited.
However, while Ukraine continues to demonstrate improvements in various aspects of election administration, problems with the voter lists continue to undermine confidence in the elections with reports of inaccuracies persisting. Last minute regulations by the Central Election Commission (CEC) created confusion among the electorate and possibly led to the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters. After conducting five elections in less than three years Ukraine should be beyond the problems seen in these elections. The delegation urges the Ukrainian parliament and election officials to address the quality of the voter lists to ensure their accuracy for the next election. This effort will require the commitment of all of Ukraine’s political parties, and IRI urges them to take a positive role in fixing this weakness.
Reports and allegations of fraud also undermined public confidence in the process. IRI has received some credible reports of various forms of voter fraud. The delegation urges the Ukrainian parliament to conduct hearings on these allegations and to strengthen criminal penalties. Additionally, the CEC and the Prosecutor General’s Office should address these serious matters.
The ability of the judicial system to act as an equal and independent branch of government was called into question. Doubts of the judiciary’s impartiality and inability to make decisions in a timely manner calls into question its ability to resolve anticipated election disputes.
IRI will issue a comprehensive report which will include conclusions and recommendations.
IRI’s 28-member international delegation included representatives from Canada, Georgia, Lithuania, the United Kingdom and the United States. Delegates monitored at more than 150 polling stations in Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Odesa, Zhytomyr oblasts, as well as the city of Kyiv and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
IRI’s delegation was led by The Honorable Michael Trend, former member of the British Parliament. Other delegates included Audronius Azubalis, member of the Lithuanian Parliament; Mamuka Chodkhonelidze, member of the Georgian Parliament; Giorgi Davladze, member of the Georgian Parliament; Alison B. Fortier, member, IRI Board of Directors; The Honorable Bohdan Futey, U.S. Court of Federal Claims; Tamaz Jorbenadze, member of the Georgian Parliament; Irakli Kavtardze, member of the Georgian Parliament; Ed Komarnicki, member of the Canadian Parliament; Stephan M. Minikes, member of IRI’s Board of Directors and former United States Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and Alexandre Zarnadze, member of the Georgian Parliament.
IRI staff also served as observers and assisted in the mission. IRI staff were led by Judy Van Rest, Executive Vice President and Stephen B. Nix, Eurasia Regional Director.
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 and 2006 parliamentary elections. In addition, IRI monitored the country’s 1999 and 2004 presidential elections.
IRI has monitored more than 135 elections since 1983.Top