Kyiv, Ukraine – The International Republican Institute’s 40-member observation delegation found the second round of Ukraine’s Presidential election held on April 21 to be largely well-administered with Ukrainian voters participating in a secure and orderly environment. Aside from minor non-systemic violations, which did not affect the overall outcome of the election, election-day procedures were implemented in accordance with the law. (Read the mission’s full preliminary statement HERE).
“It has been a privilege to stand beside Ukrainians as they continue to defend and strengthen their democracy,” said U.S. Congressman John M. Shimkus. “Although the Kremlin would have the world believe that Ukraine is a failed state, the nation has now successfully administered two rounds of elections in three weeks without any significant issues. That the incumbent so quickly conceded reflected his acceptance of the norms and results of the electoral process, which speaks to the maturity of Ukraine’s democracy.”
Kremlin aggression in Crimea and the Donbas continues to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, making it impossible for Ukraine to administer elections in the entirety of its territory. As a result, 16 percent of Ukrainians, as residents of occupied regions or as internally displaced persons, were forced to register a temporary address in order to participate in the elections. Although steps were made to protect their right to vote, these procedures could be streamlined and strengthened.
The run-off campaign period mostly focused on campaign ads on TV and social media and was a missed opportunity for the candidates to provide greater insight on the issues and proposals for reform for a future administration. The in-person candidate debate on April 19 at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium debate was historic and should set a precedent for future elections. Although the debate was replete with negative attacks, it provided Ukrainian voters with their first (and only) side-by-side view of the candidates prior to Election Day.
“It is a testament to the vibrancy of Ukraine’s democracy to have its two presidential candidates appear in-person to debate and make their case to voters,” said IRI Board Member and former Assistant Secretary of State David J. Kramer, co-leader of IRI’s election observation delegation. “The event is significant in a region where such debates do not happen often enough, including Russia.”
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.
About the Delegation
IRI announced the arrival of the international election observation delegation to observe the second round of voting for Ukraine’s presidential election on April 19. U.S. Representative John M. Shimkus and IRI Board Member and former Assistant Secretary of State David J. Kramer co-led the second-round delegation. The delegation consisted of 40 long- and short-term observers and included former ambassadors, thought leaders, and senior IRI leadership. IRI’s long-term observers have been on the ground since early March.
IRI’s observations and preliminary findings from this run-off election build upon those of the first round of voting, which took place on March 31, 2019.
IRI has worked in Ukraine since 1994 and has observed 12 elections in-country, including the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 2014 parliamentary elections and the 1999, 2004, 2010, 2012 and 2014 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.