Kyiv, September 19, 2014 – Despite ongoing security problems, the planned parliamentary elections in October are likely to be free and fair. The main impediments to the election are Russian aggression in the east of Ukraine, and the need for reforms to the applicable legal framework. This was stated at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center in Kyiv by a delegation of representatives for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) recently released a pre-election assessment based on interviews and meetings in the Ukrainian cities of Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Lviv. The assessment expresses confidence in the upcoming parliamentary elections. “The delegation was impressed that most people talked to had high confidence in the work of the central election committee,” stated Edward Kaufman, a former U.S. Senator from the state of Delaware.
In addition, Ukrainian civil society remains mobilized in the wake of the Euromaidan movement, continuing to hold the government accountable for its conduct in the upcoming elections. The Ukrainian people will be able to choose from a diverse number of candidates and political parties. Additionally, “we are seeing early signs that women will play a larger role in these elections,” said another NDI representative.
The NDI mission has several short-term and long-term recommendations for the future elections. In the short term, all representatives of Ukrainian civil society—including activists, politicians, and the media—must stay engaged in preventing fraud and electoral abuses. Political parties must avoid inflammatory and alienating rhetoric, and parties must take responsibility for the actions of their individual members who are running for office. Furthermore, the Ukrainian government must clarify the election procedures in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Conducting further electoral reforms should also be a priority for Ukrainian government. Most concerns regarded the accountability of local officials and the possibility of fraud in elections to single-member parliamentary districts. In the future, the Ukrainian government should consider changing this system through broad political consensus, in order to establish trust in the electoral laws and prevent frequent changes to the system.
Despite the obstacles and the need for long-term reform, NDI is confident that the next parliamentary elections will be free and fair. “It’s been encouraging when talking to government authorities,” said Kaufman. “They want to do it the right way.”