“Neither democracy nor authoritarianism has completely succeeded in Ukraine,” says one analyst.
Last weekend’s parliamentary elections may be a case in point.
Marred by an uneven playing field and fraudulent practices, the poll was while widely considered a setback for democracy.
“Voter bribery was massive and systemic, and often perpetrated by supposed charitable foundations associated with specific parties or candidates,” said the country’s largest independent election monitoring group.
“Observers noted gift-giving at or near polling stations on election day,” said Opora, a non-partisan civil society group, which also criticized the abuse of state resources by the ruling parties.
“Abuse of administrative resources and mischaracterization of public projects as the accomplishments of specific parties or candidates provided unfair advantage to the parties controlling the machinery of government, at the state, regional, or district level,’ it notes.
“Now there is a different situation,” Volodymyr Gorbach, an analyst for the Institute for Euro-Atlantic Cooperation, tells VOA. “The opposition is re-charged. There will be new people, a new opposition, and a new quality within the opposition.
Opora deployed 3500 observers to a statistically representative sample of polling stations, enabling the group to conduct a parallel vote tabulation for the party list vote and draw accurate conclusions about the quality of voting and counting processes.
The group described election day as relatively free of systemic violations viewed nationwide, while noting some districts experienced such widespread electoral abuses that voting and counting could not be considered either fair or democratic.
(POR = Party of Regions, UDAR = United Democratic Alliance for Reform, CPU= Communist Party of Ukraine)
Opora’s full election report supplements details issues which particularly affected voting in some electoral districts, including;
- violation of the secrecy of the ballot, including people photographing ballots and showing those pictures to unknown individuals waiting outside the polling station;
- providing ballots to voters without checking passports, or when the voter’s name was not found on the voter list;
- carousel voting, or delivering an unmarked ballot to an individual outside of the polling station, who would then mark it and provide it to a future voter; and
- changing or adding names to the voter list in violation of the election law (which only provides for voter list changes on election day as a result of a court decision).
Opora receives technical and financial assistance from the National Democratic Institute and grants from a number of other U.S. and European donors. NDI is one of the four core institutes of the National Endowment for Democracy.