Kyiv, October 27, 2014 – Despite facing fighting and foreign intervention, Ukraine conducted a credible parliamentary election process on Sunday that advanced the nation’s aspirations for democracy, independence and sovereignty, according to the findings of a National Democratic Institute (NDI) assessment mission. NDI delegates, speaking at a press conference in the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, said that voting was largely peaceful and orderly, marking the second time in less than six months that the Ukrainian people have conducted elections that meet international democratic standards in spite of the Russian occupation of Crimea and Russian-backed separatist conflicts in its eastern provinces. The delegation emphasized that the remaining counting, vote tabulation and possible complaints merit close scrutiny.
The process, however, was not without problems, NDI said. Many Ukrainians were disenfranchised due to the conflicts. Other shortcomings included sporadic violence, intimidation and attempts to disrupt voting, some instances of voter bribery and smear campaigns in the media, insufficient promotion of women and inadequate campaign finance regulations. None of them appeared to undermine electoral credibility, the Institute said.
NDI noted that the new parliament created through the elections will face a series of complex tasks in the coming months, including reshaping the economy, decentralizing the government, fighting corruption and establishing an independent judiciary.
“The parliament will need to form a stable governing coalition as quickly as possible,” NDI said. “The majority will then in turn need to make extraordinary efforts to ensure representation of the interests of all Ukrainians in pursuit of a renewed reform agenda. Building popular support for the difficult reform process will be essential for its success.”
Leaders of the NDI delegation were former U.S. Rep. Karan English, D-AZ, and former Polish Defense Minister Janusz Onyszkiewicz. Other members of its leadership group were Robin Carnahan, former secretary of state of Missouri who is also a member of the NDI board; Per Eklund, former Swedish ambassador and head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia; Mátyás Eörsi, former Hungarian member of parliament (MP) and leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe; and Liia Hänni, former MP of Estonia and former minister of property reform.
“Ukrainians should feel proud of the progress they have made in promoting electoral accountability, new entrants and grassroots campaigning as key features of the political landscape,” the delegation’s statement said.
The Institute made a number of recommendations for improving Ukraine’s electoral system. They included reform of election laws, training and nominating more women candidates, and more rigorous limits on campaign spending.