While most of the nation got results from the Oct. 25 election, Mariupol got a criminal investigation. Ukrainians want to know who is to blame for the cancellation of the elections in the strategic Azov Sea port city of 500,000 people, whose voters were deprived of the right to choose their mayor and city council. The cancelled election has triggered a spate of conspiracy theories, claims and counter-claims and criticism. Parliament has not yet set a date for a new election. What’s clear is that Mariupol voters were the victims of a power struggle between the traditional powers in the region, represented by the Opposition Bloc party and billionaire oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, and the post-EuroMaidan Revolution forces, including Donetsk Oblast Governor Pavlo Zhebrivsky. Anyone found guilty of obstructing the electoral process – in this case, leaving 215 city polling stations without ballots – could face up to seven years in prison if convicted, according to a statement released on Oct. 27 by the Donetsk Oblast Interior Ministry.
Articles about voting issues in Ukraine.
The local elections held in Ukraine on the weekend “generally showed respect for the democratic process,” international monitors said on Monday. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) called the elections “competitive” and “well-organized,” while acknowledging that they took place in “a challenging political, economic, humanitarian and security environment,” according to a statement on the organization’s website.
Hopes that a local election could help shift tensions in an eastern Ukrainian city from simmering conflict to the relative safety of politics were thwarted Sunday when voters turned up to find no ballots. The election in Mariupol, a strategically important city, had been called off even as the rest of the country voted. Electoral authorities in the Ukrainian-controlled portion of the Donetsk region said the ballots were flawed and there was no time to print new ones. But critics quickly pointed out that opinion polls had shown that a political party affiliated with Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government had been poised to win the most votes.
Since Petro Poroshenko assumed the presidency of Ukraine, the majority of discussions about the future of Ukrainian democracy have been consumed by external factors. This has been for good reason. Russian troops invaded, then annexed Crimea in early 2014; at the same time, Russia initiated another war front in eastern Ukraine, which claimed over 6,000 thousand lives and has displaced over one million Ukrainians. In addition to a severe human cost, the Russian war carried a huge economic cost by bringing to a halt various industrial enterprises in the Donbas region. However, the political fate of the country is equally dependent on internal factors particularly the improvement of procedural democracy. Ukrainian local elections, scheduled for October 25th 2015, are another important step for the development of Ukraine’s democratic politics. First, local elections will be held according to their regular five-year election cycle; the elections are an important step in the decentralisation process being discussed by President Poroshenko. Second, they will be conducted according to a new set of electoral laws that look to increase representativeness and strengthen the role of political parties. However, this latest round of elections is unlikely to introduce higher levels of transparency into the electoral process or bolster the role or function of political parties in Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday stressed the need for legitimate elections in the country’s separatist regions in order to eventually re-integrate the pro-Moscow strongholds. Poroshenko said in a televised address that “without elections in these occupied territories, a political solution will be in a deadlock”. The so-called Minsk peace deal between government troops and pro-Russia rebels in eastern Ukraine foresees the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the battlefield and calls for a vote to be held in the separatist regions under international auspices.
Ukraine will on Oct. 25 conduct the most procedurally complicated local elections it has ever seen. Voters can only hope the polls are not also the most chaotic and corrupt ever seen. The complex, multi-system voting procedure will inevitably cause problems with vote counts and distribution of seats, and will likely further reduce the trust of voters in election results, experts have told the Kyiv Post. “Even we don’t totally understand the logic of this law,” said Andriy Mahera, deputy head of Central Election Commission, adding the new election system is already causing some head scratching.
A decision by pro-Russian separatists to postpone local elections that Ukraine had said were illegitimate was welcomed on Tuesday by Kiev, the European Union, Washington and Moscow – the rebels’ patron – as a sign of progress in the faltering peace process. The separatists said the elections, which they had set for Oct. 18 and Nov. 1 in two regions they control, would take place next February, potentially giving time for a compromise that would suit all sides. The concession by the separatists comes at a time when Russia has adopted a more constructive tone in talks over Ukraine, according to diplomats involved in the discussion who say Russia has influence over the rebels.
Officials in rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine announced Tuesday they will postpone local elections that were going to be held shortly, sidestepping a contentious issue that had blocked progress toward a resolution for the war in Ukraine. Ukraine’s president and Russian lawmakers hailed the move as a step toward peace. More than 8,000 people have been killed since April 2014 during fighting between Ukrainian government troops and the Russia-backed separatists. A statement Tuesday from Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego said the rebel-run areas of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces would put off their local votes until Feb. 21.
A decision by rebels in eastern Ukraine to hold elections poses a “great danger” to the peace process, President Petro Poroshenko has warned. He also announced sanctions on over 400 people and 90 legal entities held responsible for Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in the east. The leader of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic earlier confirmed the elections would be held on 18 October. The neighbouring Luhansk rebel region wants to stage elections on 1 November. The government in Kiev – backed by the EU and the US – says such votes would be in violation of the peace deal signed in Minsk, Belarus, in February.
The parties of Ukraine’s President Petro Poreshenko and Kiev’s mayor Vitaly Klitschko’s merged in August, and with local elections upcoming all eyes are on Ukraine as pro democracy parties seek to consolidate their seats against more pro-Russian sentiment. The recent actions by President Poroshenko to grant more autonomy to the separatist regions have angered the nationalists within Parliament, and the far right. Along with the parties merging, this has caused upheaval in Kiev and has raised the possibility of snap elections in which a slew of new candidates could be vying to take over for Poreshenko and Yatsenyuk’s embattled governments. There’s talk that Mikhail Saakashvilli, the current Odessa governor and former President of Georgia, will go for the position.Saakashvilli recently received 26,000 signatures on a petition to President Poreshenko demanding that Saakashvilli become Prime Minister. The petition supporting Saakashvili’s candidacy for the prime minister’s post was officially submitted on September 3. The same day, Ukraine’s Channel 5 television network, which is owned by Poroshenko, aired an interview with Saakashvili, who lambasted current Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s reform agenda, Radio Free Europe reports.. While Saakashvilli has said that he will not run for the position, many believe that he is still entertaining at least some notion of running for election, particularly when his popularity has risen of late.