The voting process in the first local elections, held on December 18, was accompanied by the same typical abusive practices as during previous elections, namely violation of voting procedure, obstruction of observers’ activity, falsification of election documents and presence of unauthorized persons at the polling stations.
The first local elections in the united territorial communities, scheduled for December 18, 2016, were mostly held in compliance with legal requirements and in observance of the principle of competitiveness. The abusive practices, recorded by Civil Network OPORA observers, weren’t large-scale or pre-planned, but still these violations should be duly investigated for the purpose of observance of the principle of inevitability of punishment for crimes against electoral rights of citizens. The common problems recorded in the course of election campaign and on Election Day once again actualize the need for increasing the level of legal culture and awareness among voters and improving professional abilities of members of election commissions, as well as the need for strengthening preventive action and ensuring prompt police response to electoral violations. Implementation of these measures should be combined with a comprehensive reform of the electoral legislation.
The first local elections in the united territorial communities, scheduled for December 11, 2016, were held in compliance with Ukrainian laws and international standards for elections, while the election campaigns of candidates for the most part adhered to the principle of competitiveness. According to observers, there were no pre-planned or systematic violations recorded in the majority of territorial communities, although the election process in some of these communities didn’t fully comply with legal requirements and relevant standards. All the violations, which were committed in the first local elections held on December 11, 2016, were duly documented by Civil Network OPORA, and our organization will ensure adequate control on relevant investigations carried out by law enforcement agencies. The experience of first local elections once again actualizes the urgent need for comprehensive electoral reform in Ukraine, given the fact that shortcomings of legislation and its application has been a typical problem in the course of many election campaigns.
The unusually low level of pre-election activity on the part of potential and registered candidates participating in election process, isolated cases of violation of legal requirements by candidates, public conflict between supporters and opponents of integration of territorial communities – such are the peculiarities of first elections in the united territorial communities scheduled for December 11 and December 18, 2016, which were recorded by public observers of Civil Network OPORA in October – November, 2016.
One of the most important factors of efficient management of the first local elections in the united territorial communities is the proper operation of the territorial election commissions, which are authorized to create single-mandate election districts or territorial election districts in order to held the elections of the people’s deputies for the relevant village, township and city councils, to register candidates and their agents, authorized representatives, representatives of local party organizations or to take the decisions about the cancellation of their registration; to approve the text and ensure the production of voting papers, to register the official observers; to make the voting results reports.
Representatives of civil society, expert community, media and members of Ukrainian Parliament have learned about opinions of candidates for members of the Central Election Commission concerning important election administration issues, as well as reforming of the CEC and electoral system as a whole.
The Parliament should immediately consider termination of office of the twelve commissioners with the expired terms and, subsequently, consider the President’s slate of nominees. Once the new CEC composition is approved by Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada should consider the amendments to the Constitution and to the Law on the Central Election Commission that seek to strengthen the independence of the Commission and enforce Commissioners to hold their posts and observe the legally established terms of office.
According to OPORA's data received in June – beginning of September 2016 there were 422 pre-trial investigations initiated under Articles 157-160 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine during 2016 regular local elections. Most of pre-trial investigations concerned voter bribery – 159 investigations, Article 160 of the CrCU; impeding the free exercise of voting rights, activities of election commissions and official observers – 97 investigations, Article 157.
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