Parliamentary elections in Ukraine consolidate democracy
In Ukraine, the early elections to Verkhavna Rada (Parliament) is underway, and by 15.00 o'clock no serious incidents have been reported. In occupied Crimea and in large parts of Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk, it is not possible to organise elections, and some 4.5 million out of a total of 35 million voters are unable to cast their ballot today. Norwegian Helsinki Committee is in Kyiv to observe the elections.
- So far, there have been no serious incidents reported, says NHCs Berit Lindeman, who together with colleague Lene Wetteland is working at the International Media Center (IMC) during the last part of the election period. The IMC is set up in a cooperation between domestic observer organisations OPORA, Committee of Voters Ukraine (CVU) and European Platform For Democratic Elections (EPDE). Norwegian Helsinki Committee is a member of EPDE and represents EPDE in Kyiv.- We believe these elections will show that Ukraine is continuing its path to a democratic society, Berit Lindeman says.
During the election campaign there were numerous reports of vote buying and misuse of administrative resources for campaigning purposes. However, it is clear that the numbers of these violations have been much lower than during last parliamentary elections in 2012. Local observers CVU and OPORA have critisised the unwillingness of the outgoing parliament to change the electoral system. The current system is considered to bear some of the blame for the problem of vote buying, along with the widespread culture of corruption in society in general and among politicians in particular.
Other concerns have been the possibility to vote for hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons from Crimea and Donbas, as well as for soldiers and other volunteers in the war afflicted areas in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The last few days, as well as today, there have been worrisome reports of intimidation of voters in Eastern Ukraine, and direct threats of violence against citizens going to the vote. Pro-Russian/pro-federalist forces have called voting for the Ukrainian parliament "a treason".
- Despite these reports of problems and violations, the general picture is, by late afternoon on election day, that the elections are going well in the country. We are particularly happy that there have been no acts of violence, concludes Lindeman.