The election process currently corresponds to the fundamental law requirements, is enough competitive, and free from violations or factors, which may cast doubt on election administration or the voting process. However, the legal uncertainty of the certain electoral procedures, caused by poor quality of the current Law of Ukraine on Local Elections, is destabilizing the electoral process.

According to OPORA's analysts, the majority (95%) of 201 territorial election commissions held their meeting, dedicated to formation of electoral constituencies, in time, before 20 September inclusive. 5% of the commissions, however, conducted the corresponding meetings beyond the deadline established by the law. Thus, 7 TEC's created electoral constituencies on 21 September, and another 3 TECs on 23, 24, and 25 respectively. According to the assessment of observers, the delays in formation of electoral districts resulted from low competence of election commission members.

98% of UTCs have districts with more than 15% deviation (a permissible deviation in the number of voters in election districts) from the average number of voters in a district. The biggest deviation from the average number of voters in a district is 510% in election to city councils (Bobrovytsia City Council, UTC in Chernihiv oblast); 523% in election to settlement councils (Zabolotiv Settlement Council, Ivano-Frankivsk oblast); 246% in election to village councils (Pryvillia Village Council in Luhansk oblast). Such inadmissible deviations, which had already occurred in 2015 local elections, are caused by lack of legislative regulation and arbitrary interpretation of its general principles by election commission members.

609 of 944 (65%) candidates for heads of UTCs were nominated independently, and 255 (35%) were nominated by local party cells. However, the candidates from local party cells prevail in 25 cities: 80 of 120 (67%) candidates were nominated by local organizations of political parties. This is the major difference between election of heads in city, village and settlement communities, as long as the latter have the majority of independent candidates (569, or 69%). The following parties have nominated the biggest number of candidates for city, village and settlement heads: Petro Poroshenko Bloc (82 candidates, or 41% of communities); AUU Batkivshchyna (56 candidates, or 28% of communities); Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (32 candidates, or 16% of communities).

11 communities have only one candidate for village or settlement head. However, only one of 25 cities has a single mayoral candidate. If there is only one candidate registered for election of city, village, or settlement head, he will need to gain a half plus one vote to win the election.

None of 50 political parties, which have approved participation of their local cells in the first local elections scheduled for 29 October 2017, has nominated candidates for village and settlement heads in all 176 territorial communities. 31 of 50 parties didn't nominate any candidate for village or settlement head. As for the city communities, 13 of 50 parties, which have approved participation of their local cells in the election, didn't submit any electoral lists. Only three parties submitted electoral lists in all 25 cities.

According to OPORA's data, 16,133 candidates are registered in election to village and settlement councils, including 11,398 (71%) of candidates nominated by political parties and 4,375 (29%) of independent candidates. According to OPORA's analysts, the fact that candidates from parties prevail in single-member districts means parties strengthen their influence on the course of the first local elections. Thus, AUU Batkivshchyna (2914), Petro Poroshenko Bloc (1736), Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (1458) and Agrarian Party of Ukraine (1412) have the biggest number of candidates for members of city and settlement councils in single-member districts. Local cells of other parties nominated less than 1000 candidates in single-member districts of 176 village and settlement communities. According to the OPORA's data, 46% of candidates for members of village and settlement councils, registered by local party cells, are women. The percentage of women among independent candidates is lower – 38%.

OPORA's observers have noticed that electoral subjects are less active in local election campaign in united territorial communities and organize less public events, compared to national election campaigns. Despite the electoral subjects are quite passive, the AUU Batkivshchyna is the most active among parties in campaigning efforts (covering 33% of UTCs). The PPB “Solidarity” covered with its campaigning efforts 21% of UTCs as of the middle of October. The next active parties are the Agrarian Party of Ukraine (18% of UTCs) and UKROP (17% of UTCs).

Public meetings and other meetings with the voters are the most widespread forms of campaigning. Candidates for members of local councils organized such events in 51% of UTCs and mayoral candidates – in 56% of UTCs. Another popular form or campaigning is dissemination of leaflets, placards and other printed campaign materials or printed editions: candidates for members of local councils used such campaigning methods in 49% of UTCs and mayoral candidates – in 46% of UTCs. Publication of political advertising in printed and audio/video mass media by candidates for members of local councils and mayoral candidates was noticed in 26% and 24% of UTCs respectively. At the same time, public debates, discussions, roundtables, press-conferences, and mass events are the least popular means of campaigning.

Taking into consideration that the election processes are localized and the candidates are not very active in campaigning, the amount of electoral violations on this stage of election campaign was minimal. The most widespread disregard of the electoral legislation by electoral subjects is evading the duties in election commissions by its members without any due reason. Thus, observers have noticed 19 such incidents.

According to OPORA's information, in most of the UTCs (68% of the total number), law-enforcement bodies do not conduct any preventive or awareness activities among the voters and electoral subjects to prevent electoral violations.

For comment, please contact:

Olha Aivazovska, Electoral and Parliamentary Programs Coordinator of the Civil Network OPORA

Phone: 063 6179750

Oleksandr Kliuzhev, Analyst at the Civil Network OPORA

Phone: 063 8446723

Oleksandr Neberykut, Analyst at the Civil Network OPORA

Phone: 063 6286837

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Reference:Civil Network OPORA conducts citizen observation of the first elections in united territorial communities in Ukraine, scheduled for 29 October 2017. 69 long-term observers were deployed to 24 oblasts on September 11. Civic observation conducted by OPORA is a network activity, aimed to provide an impartial assessment of election administration and the voting process, as well as to prevent electoral violations through a comprehensive civic action.