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Ukraine Election: Continued Mandate for Change

July 22, 2019

Kyiv, Ukraine–The International Republican Institute’s 35-member delegation of short-term observers found the parliamentary elections held on July 21 to be well administered overall despite minor, seemingly non-systemic violations observed throughout the day. In these elections, Ukraine’s third national election in four months, voters were generally able to express their will and continue their call for sweeping political change in their country. (Read the mission's full preliminary statement here).

“Clearly the Ukrainian people continue to support President Zelenskyy and his reform agenda, as reflected by the extremely high percentage of votes for his political party in these elections,” said Stephen B. Nix, IRI Eurasia Director.

President Zelenskyy’s party, Sluha Narodu, appears to have a clear mandate and may secure an outright majority in the parliament once results are finalized. Moreover, the results are a continuation in support for President Zelenskyy’s proposed initiatives.

The timing of these elections may have been a factor in lower voter turnout. “With summer holidays ongoing, political parties and candidates, particularly those with less experience, had less time to prepare. Election commissions had less time to train new members, and those with travel plans—including voters—may have been unavailable to participate,” said Nix.

Kremlin interference has been a recurring issue in Ukrainian elections. The most glaring form continues to be the Russian Federation’s ongoing occupation of Ukrainian territory, from Crimea to parts of the Donbas region, which precluded election authorities from being able to administer elections in all regions of the country. Its overt aggression against Ukraine has threatened to disenfranchise 16 percent of voters—12 percent residing in occupied regions and 4 percent that have been displaced by the war.

“IRI commends the Central Election Commission for organizing a national election in a very short period of time and for including measures to streamline the registration procedures for these voters affected by the conflict,” said Judy Van Rest, IRI Executive Vice President.

In the spirit of supporting Ukraine’s democracy, IRI has offered recommendations to further strengthen the credibility of electoral processes and safeguard Ukraine’s democratic gains since its independence.

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About IRI

IRI has worked in Ukraine since 1994 and has observed 15 elections in-country, including the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2012, 2014 and 2019 parliamentary elections and the 1999, 2004, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2019 presidential elections. IRI has helped to develop effective, citizen-responsive government, trained tens of thousands of political party members and civil society activists, and supported the participation of underrepresented groups such as women and youth in the political process. IRI has been recognized for its international survey research through its regular public opinion surveys, which includes dozens of national, municipal and oblast-level surveys of the political and public policy landscape in Ukraine.