Interim Report on the Results of Observation Conducted by the OPORA during Early Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine: September 2014
Early Parliamentary elections in Ukraine are being organized while the military aggression of regular army units of the Russian Federation and illegal armed groups in some raions of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts continues. In spite of the “truce” reached in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group comprising rebels, Ukraine and the OSCE, Ukrainian troops are still under armed attacks and firing. According to the UN, the number of internally displaced persons in Ukraine is above 300,000. Citizens of Ukraine living on the temporarily occupied Autonomous Republic of Crimea are not involved in political processes. Therefore, the agenda of early parliamentary elections includes not only due application of electoral legislation and adherence to international standards of election administration, but also the efficient counteraction to challenges that are not related to the election process directly.
The key challenges are the following: 1) Safety during organization and conduct of the voting process on territories involved in conflict; 2) stable functioning of election commissions and protection of their members; 3) transportation of election documentation and ballot papers; 4) free access to impartial and balanced information for citizens living in the operational area, and 4) voting with any pressure, threats or harassment by illegal armed groups. As of 1 October, the election campaign and the voting can be organized at all polls in 8 districts (ED #46–50, 55–59), at some polls in districts #45, 52, and 53, and at no polls in the remaining 9 districts of Donetsk oblast. In Luhansk oblast, the voting can be organized fully in one district (ED #113 centered in city of Svatovo), partly in 5 districts (ED #105–107, 112, and 114), and cannot be organized in 5 districts (ED #104, 108–111). Such tendency remains stable since 10 September, when OPORA’s observers promulgated preliminary data concerning the voting on territories of military operations. Thus, in the best-case scenario, the elections will be held in 18 of 32 districts of Donbas; in the worst-case scenario—only in 9.
OPORA has analyzed the functioning of election commissions and rotations in their membership initiated by parties. As of 1 October, 25% of commission members were substituted, what is neither small amount, nor critical for due organization of elections. The number of substitutions was the highest in Donetsk, Odesa, and Kirovohrad oblasts. The Our Ukraine has substituted the largest number of its representatives in DECs. The CPU, on the contrary, turned out to be the most stable.
30 October was the last day for registration of MP candidates. In total, the CEC has registered 6,627 citizens, and 819 citizens received a refusal. OPORA’s report contains information about reasons for refusals, and the analysis of campaign participants. As for the positive tendencies, the number of women candidates has increased in party lists (25.78%) and the number of young candidates has increased as well (32.17%). The largest number of MPs of the Verkhovna Rada of VII convocation are nominated by the Petro Poroshenko Block (42 candidates). 302 MPs of the Verkhovna Rada of VII convocation participate in these early elections.
In late September, the campaigning has intensified in all Ukrainian regions. Although observers started reporting incidents of bribery, which should be taken care of by law-enforcement bodies, the misuse of administrative resources is not widespread in comparison with 2012. We remind that according to OPORA’s rating, the misuse of powers by public officials was the most widespread violation during the last regular elections to the Parliament.
In late September, some resonant incidents occurred, related to the use of force against candidates Viktor Pylypyshyn  and Nestor Shufrych. OPORA hopes that incidents of violence were an exception, and the election will be held legitimately and freely.
Course of the Election Campaign
Similarly to the last Presidential elections, candidates and parties were not very active in campaigning efforts during the first month of the election process. Electoral subjects were mainly focused on formation of party lists and agreements on candidates in single-member districts. The level of competition on this stage is lower than in previous parliamentary elections.
Less than 10 of 52 political parties registered in the CEC as electoral subjects conduct systematic nationwide campaigning activities. The AUU Batkivshchyna, the Civic Position, and the Petro Poroshenko Block conducted the most prominent campaigning in September. The People’s Front, the Radical Party, the AUU Svoboda, the Samopomich NGO and the Strong Ukraine were less active. Besides that, observers reported outdoor advertising of the All-Ukrainian Agrarian Union Zastup, the Internet Party of Ukraine, the Liberal Party, the Opposition Bloc, and the Party 5.10.
The false start of the election campaigning was the major tendency in September. Parties and majoritarian candidates started massive dissemination of campaigning materials and conduction of public events yet before registration in the CEC. In particular, the following parties started campaigning too early: AUU Batkivshchyna, AUU Svoboda, Petro Poroshenko Block, Civic Position, Radical Party, Liberal Party of Ukraine, Internet Party of Ukraine, Strong Ukraine, and All-Ukrainian Agrarian Union Zastup. In September, observers of the Civil Network OPORA repeatedly reported the presence of outdoor political advertising without an imprint and materials with features of election campaigning in published in local media by the abovementioned political parties.
Taking into consideration that these parties were not registered officially as electoral subjects when such materials were disseminated, they didn’t have to meet legislative requirements concerning mandatory use of electoral funds for campaign financing, as well as the obligation to give information about the customer, printing house, and number of copies on campaigning materials. Thus, most of campaigning materials that had appeared yet in late August and early September were without an imprint and financed from other sources than electoral funds. These facts give the reason to think that some parties and candidates deliberately delayed registration in the CEC to avoid mandatory procedures, provided by the Law of Ukraine on Elections of People’s Deputies of Ukraine.
Today, the abovementioned participants of the race use outdoor advertising (campaigning slogans and calls on billboards, city lights, posters), publish information materials in the media and disseminate campaign materials through campaigners and campaigning tents. Political parties didn’t use traditional campaigning events like meetings, demonstrations, and concerts.
Campaigning materials usually are not regionally-oriented. They are usually designed by the center and are the same for all regions. Parties conduct more active campaigns in oblast centers and big cities. In cities, outdoor advertising (billboards, city lights, tents) is the most popular form of campaigning, in villages—street campaigning (meetings with voters) and direct door-to-door campaigning (dissemination of printed campaign materials).
Today, only the Civic Position has launched a wide-scale street campaigning. Its campaigning tents can be noticed in most of oblasts. Besides the Civic Position, campaigning tents are also used by the AUU Batkivshchyna and AUU Svoboda. However, this campaigning instrument is predominantly used now at the discretion of local election headquarters.
In fact, all the most active candidates publish articles and information materials with hidden advertising and without proper marking in local media. Hidden visual advertising was used by the Civic Position (on billboards using not full name of the party—“it’s our civic position”) and the Svoboda (on billboards “who and how voted for the Law on Lustration”).
All candidates make references to the war in their campaigning speeches, and usually use populist slogans. Besides that, candidates use charitable activities in favor of army for campaigning purposes. All such charity events organized by candidates have features of indirect voter bribery.
Lustration is another topical issue in campaigning of parties and candidates. Their attempts to draw officials who held their positions during Yanukovych presidency to responsibility in the course of election campaign are usually accompanied by actions that limit the rights of electoral subjects.
On the stage of registration, parties usually emphasized that ATO participants, civic activists or journalists are included in their party lists.
The fact that the Party of Regions refused to participate in the race has considerably influenced the course of election campaign. As a result, MPs who represented this party in the Verkhovna Rada of VII convocation run as self-nominated candidates in the same districts they were elected in 2012. Such manipulative solutions confuse the voters and give electoral benefits to candidates.
Some parties (AUU Batkivshchyna, Petro Poroshenko Block, UDAR, People’s Front, and Civic Position) created a wide network of election headquarters (to the level of raions) in most regions of Ukraine. Election headquarters are mainly focused on mobilization of campaigners and attraction of people to work in precinct election commissions.
Quelle: <http://oporaua.org/en/news/6307-promizhnyj-zvit-za-rezultatamy-sposterezhennja-opory-pid-chas-pozachergovyh-vybo riv-narodnyh-deputativ-ukrajiny-veresen-2014-roku>