The first local elections in 202 united territorial communities will be held on 29 October 2017. The election process has officially started on 9 September in all Ukrainian oblasts without exception.  Dnipropetrovsk and Volyn oblasts have the largest number of united communities participating in the election – 19 communities each. Zakarpattia and Mykolaiv oblasts, on the contrary, have only one community each.

On 29 October 2017, local self-government bodies in 25 cities, 115 villages and 61 settlements will be elected. Election to local councils is held under the proportional representation electoral system, with candidates from local party cells, nominated in the certain territorial election districts. Members of village and settlement councils are elected under the majoritarian system of relative majority in single-member districts. Election of city, village and settlement heads are held under one-round system, because none of the cities have more than 90 thousand voters.

OPORA's observers will provide an independent non-partisan observation of the first local elections in united territorial communities. The organization has deployed 69 long-term observers to the territorial communities, and short-term observers will join them right before the voting begins.

This OPORA's report contains the assessment of redistricting process, completion of candidate registration, activities of election commissions, and campaigning efforts of candidates. Besides that, OPORA has summarized the detected violations of electoral legislation, committed by electoral subjects.

According to the interim findings of the OPORA, 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 detected violations require a prompt and all-sided response of law-enforcement bodies, aimed at prevention of any attempts to gain non-competitive privileges by dishonest candidates. 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. The course of election process one more time proves that the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine should return to an inclusive dialog concerning the election reform in Ukraine.

Similarly to 2015-2016 local elections, TECs have unequally applied and arbitrarily interpreted regulations of the election law, which concern formation of electoral constituencies. Ensuring the equal quantity of voters in each electoral district remains the key problem. According to the OPORA's data, 98% of UTCs have districts with more than 15% deviation from the average number of voters in a district. The maximum deviation, according to the international standards, is 10%, or 15% in exceptional circumstances. Such wide-scale disregard of the generally recognized standard in local elections is the result of poor regulation of redistricting in the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections. Little detailed explanations and ambiguity of the electoral legislation result in arbitrary interpretation of the regulations by commission members, as well as the use of wrong criteria in redistricting or ignoring the general principles of the process.  For example, TECs applied a criteria, guaranteeing representation of each administrative-territorial unit in a local council of a community. However, it's not established by the law and contradicts with the principle of equal suffrage, as well as the logic of forming a new united community. OPORA's observers have detected abnormal deviations from the average number of voters in election constituency (reaching 510% and 523%), what means the legislation should be reformed and applied in a uniform way. The candidates in the first local elections didn't challenge TEC decisions on formation of electoral constituencies, but the courts did force some TECs to reconsider the corresponding decisions. Some court decisions lacked proper grounds, what was not good for the stability of election process. As for the positive facts, 95% of TECs took a decision on formation of electoral districts in time.

There were no wide-scale conflicts between the TEC and potential candidates in the process of candidate registration for 29 October 2017 local elections. The number of refusals to register candidates was not high. For example, in elections of village, city, and settlement heads, 6 candidates willing to run in territorial communities were rejected for registration, and none of the candidates running in cities were rejected. As for the candidates in election to city councils, TECs rejected 32 candidates for registration, in election to village and settlement councils – 85 candidates. The total number of rejected candidates, both mayoral and to local councils, reached 123 persons. This amount is not high, taking into consideration the total number of registered candidates for the first local elections. According to the OPORA's data, received directly from the TECs in each community, there are 824 candidates for village, city and settlement heads, 296 electoral lists in elections to city councils and over 16 thousand candidates in elections to village and settlement councils.

OPORA would like to emphasize that little number of rejections doesn't mean the current law on local elections is of a high quality. Most of the confrontations and court litigations between commissions and candidates were avoided exclusively thanks to the lack of conflicts in communication between electoral subjects on a local level.  Besides that, the TECs had to use on their sole discretion the obsolete electoral legislation containing contradictory regulations, which caused in some cases questionable decisions on rejection of candidates for registration in local elections. In particular, a demand for candidates to submit declarations on property, income, and financial obligations to a TEC was a legal uncertainty. This problem was caused by contradictions between obsolete regulations of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections and current Ukraine's declaration regulations. In fact, the nomination and registration of candidates in territorial communities comprising settlements from different regions, was regulated by the TECs themselves. The problem is that the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections doesn't contain the procedures allowing to unite communities belonging to different raions. A bright example, which proves that the Law on Local Elections should be reformed, is an accident when a candidate for rejected for registration because his internal passport was in a form of ID card. According to the current election legislation, candidates should submit copies of internal passport, including those containing information about the registration address. The candidate, who had a new ID document couldn't fulfill this requirement.  Such examples prove that not only members of election commissions should pass be trained, but also the legislation itself should be free from similar contradictions. As a result of the certain court practices and TEC decisions, there were also incidents when the legislation was applied unequally in regard to nomination of a candidate in some single-member districts simultaneously. OPORA draws attention to probably falsified consent of some candidates to be nominated by the certain party cell in some communities of Khmelnytsk oblast, what requires the corresponding response of law-enforcement bodies.

The citizens will have a competitive list of candidates representing local cells of political parties or nominated independently. According to OPORA's data, only 1 city and 11 village and settlement communities have one candidate for the corresponding head position. These candidates will need to gain a half plus one vote to win the election. The biggest number of candidates for settlement head was noticed in Bilovodsk settlement community – 30 candidates.

The influence of political parties on local election has increased in the first local elections, scheduled for 29 October 2017. For example, over 70% of candidates for members of village and settlement councils were nominated by local party cells. In the first local elections held on 11 and 18 December 2016 in 160 village and settlement communities, independent candidates comprised 51% of the total number of candidates. Candidates, nominated by local cells of political parties, also prevail over independent candidates for mayors, but their number is less than independent candidates for village and settlement heads.

According to the effective legislation, 50 political parties have approved participation of their local cells in the first local elections scheduled for 29 October 2017, but not all of them have nominated the candidates. 30 parties haven't nominated any mayoral candidates, and 31 parties – any candidates for village and settlement heads. 13 political parties have ignored the election to city councils, 32 parties – elections to village and settlement councils.

Local cells of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (82 candidates), AUU Batkivshchyna (56), Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (32), AUU Svoboda (26), and Radical Party of Oleh Liashko (26) have nominated the biggest number of candidates for heads of UTCs.  Agrarian Party of Ukraine (16), Nash Krai (16), and Opposition Bloc (14) follow them by the amount of candidates.

Nevertheless, local cells of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity”, Radical Party of Oleh Liashko, AUU Batkivshchyna and Agrarian Party of Ukraine have nominated the candidates for members of city councils in all 25 cities. Local cells of other political parties have submitted the lists of candidates in smaller number of cities.

Local cells of the AUU Batkivshchyna nominated the biggest number of candidates in elections to village and settlement councils. Moreover, this political party have nominated in 1178 candidates more in single-member districts than local cells of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc. Top 5 of political parties, which have nominated the biggest number of candidates in elections to village and settlement councils AUU Batkivshchyna (2914), Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” (1736), Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (1458), Agrarian Party of Ukraine (1412), Radical Party of Oleh Liashko (919).

During the reporting period, observers assessed the activeness of campaigning efforts of candidates, nominated by local cells of political parties. According to OPORA's data, the candidates nominated by AUU Batkivshchyna are the most active. Thus, campaigning efforts of this political parties covered over 30% of communities. Top parties conducting the most wide-scale campaigning: Petro Poroshenko Bloc (21% of UTCs with noticeable campaigning), Agrarian Party of Ukraine (18% of UTCs), Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (17% of UTCs), Radical Party of Oleh Liashko (12% of UTCs). According to OPORA's observers, the majority of candidates haven't started their election campaigns during the reporting period.

During the reporting period, OPORA has detected and verified 79 violations of electoral legislation, committed by different electoral subjects. 24% of the violations concerned evading the duties in election commissions by its members without any due reason. Violation of campaigning rules was also quite widespread type of violation. For example, dissemination of campaign materials outside the allowed places comprises 19% of all verified violations, dissemination of campaign materials without an imprint –18%. The incidents when public officials use official events for campaigning (10%), and the use of municipal mass media in campaigning purposes (14%), require special attention, taking into consideration the negative practices of misuse of administrative resources in Ukraine. Although the electoral violations are not wide-scale at the moment, they require proper response to prevent negative tendencies in adherence to election standards. OPORA's observers have already detected some incidents of indirect voter bribery in the first local elections to be held on 29 October 2017. Giving any material incentives to the voters is inadmissible in the election process, as long as they can distort the election outcomes and hinder free exercise of the franchise. OPORA calls on the law-enforcement bodies to take a professional and responsible stand concerning the prevention, detection of and counteraction to any direct and indirect voter bribery.

According to OPORA's assessment, activities of TECs are properly organized and the majority of them adhere to the procedural requirements. TECs, with the exception of some incidents, conduct their activities openly, and guarantee the rights of observers and journalists.

Creation of electoral districts

Creation of territorial and single member electoral districts for first local election scheduled for 29 October 2017 finished by the end of September 2017 meeting legally set deadline and in accordance with major formal norms and procedures. However, when assigning districts, territorial election commissions have arbitrary interpreted the norm on ensuring approximately equal number of voters in each constituency. In practice, this led to abnormal disparities in number of voters in various districts created for the election within single representative body. Thus, when creating electoral districts, commissions have failed to fully ensure the democratic principle of equal vote and equality of electoral responsibilities for all participants of the election process.

In accordance with the Law of Ukraine On Local Elections (Article17), the CEC is responsible for setting the number of territorial single-member electoral districts, which are to be created by corresponding territorial election commissions within administrative territorial units based on State Electoral Register data. This should be done no later than 50 days before the election. The CEC has met this norm and on 31 October passed the Decision #171 setting the number of territorial single-member electoral districts, which had to be created by corresponding TECs in order to arrange the first election to united territorial communities on 29 October 2017.

The Law puts responsibility for creating territorial and single-member electoral districts on various TECs in accordance with their administrative territorial status. For example, city election commissions created territorial electoral districts for electing deputies to city councils while village and town commissions created districts for electing deputies to village and town councils.

Through 20 September (including that day), territorial election commissions had to create single-member electoral districts for first local election of village and town council deputies as well as territorial electoral districts for electing city council deputies. The majority of the 201 territorial election commissions (95 %) held their meetings and passed decisions on creating electoral districts on time, by through 20 September. At the same time, 5% of the commissions failed to meet the legally set deadline. 7 TECs created electoral districts one day later – on 21 September, while the other 3 TECs (Drabynivska village EC in Poltavska oblast, Rozhnivska village EC in Ivano-Frankivska oblast, Liuboml’ska city EC in Volynska oblast) created districts on 23, 24, and 27 September respectively. According to observers’ evaluation delays with creating electoral districts were caused by the lack of competence among election commission members.

No later than on the following day after passing the decision on creating corresponding territorial electoral districts TECs were obliged to publish it in local printed Media or in any other way defined by the election commission. Precisely 90% of territorial election commissions met this legislative norm while 10% of TECs (9 village and two city ones) have published their decisions with delay. Namely, these were Burynska city election commission (Sumska oblast) and Zborivska city election commission (Ternopilska oblast).

In order to hold the election of local councils, corresponding territorial elections commissions had to create single-member (for village and town councils) and territorial (for city councils) electoral districts in a number that equals the number of councilors and with approximately equal number of voters in each district. Therefore, the main criterion that territorial election commissions had to apply for creating districts in villages, towns and cities without inner administrative division and not containing other cities, towns and villages within their limits was ensuring approximately equal number of voters in every district of a united territorial community. The problem is that the law does not specify disparity limit for the number of voters among various districts, which would enable implementation of the equal number of voters norm.

In case of arranging elections to city councils in cities with inner administrative division or cities containing other cities, villages or towns within their limits, the main criterion for creating electoral districts is even more vague and declarative, namely that the number of voters in each district has to be as close as possible to the average number of voters in a territorial electoral district of the respective multi-member district. However, due to the requirement to create at least one district in every such village or town within a city or in a city located within another city (Article 17(5) of the Law) it is often practically impossible to ensure equal distribution of voters among districts and, therefore, following the equal number of votes principle in such administrative territorial units is even more problematic. In its report on results of the regular local election in 2015 OPORA has indicated all negative consequences of the insufficient regulations and lack of control on the part of the CEC over the process of electoral districts creation for electing local councils. Notably, this led to systemic instances of abnormal disparities in number of voters among territorial districts – over two thirds of the territorial electoral districts created for electing deputies to oblast, district and city councils (21 584 out of 27 557) had over 15% variation in number of voters.

In accordance with the paragraph 15 of Venice Commission Recommendations, included into the Code of Good Practices in Electoral Matters 2002, the maximum accepted variation in number of voters among electoral districts “usually should not be greater than 10%” (or 15% at most in extraordinary circumstances).

According to the latest OPORA evaluation, 98% of UTCs, where first local election is to take place on 29 October 2017, have larger than 15% deviations in number of voters from  district average. At city council elections the largest deviation in terms of number of voters from district average is 510% (Bobrovytska UTC city council in Chernihiv oblast); at town council elections – 523% (Zabolotivska town council in Ivano-Frankivska oblast), at village council elections – 246% (Pryvilska village council in Luhanska oblast). For details see Table #1-3.

The reason for such unacceptable deviations similar to those at the regular local election2015 is insufficient legal regulation and arbitrary interpretation of legislative norms by territorial election commission members. The requirement of taking into account precinct boundaries and abiding the norm of electoral districts’ continuity is the only intrinsic reason for unequal voters distribution among districts. However, this circumstance cannot explain all abnormal deviations revealed through analysis of electoral district creation process. TECs often were guided by the criterion of separate representation for all administrative territorial units in UTC local councils, a norm that is not formally envisaged in the Law and contradicts the principle of equal voting right.

At the same time, there were only few instances of appeals by subjects of the election process in regard to district creation procedure that would lead to recognizing election commissions’ decisions illegal and their cancellation. This is because of the limited time allowed for appeals and insufficient voters’ awareness about their rights being restricted and mechanisms of protection. For instance, appeals on election commission decision are to be made by either subjects of the election process or by voters residing within a corresponding electoral district within five days from that decision being passed. Since electoral districts creation finished on 20 September, the deadlines for court appeals are over.  According to the Article 27 (19) of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections, it is also a higher level territorial election commission and Central Election Commission that have the power to cancel territorial election commission’s decisions contradicting the Law and to pass substantive decisions instead. However, if candidate registration in respective electoral districts is over and campaigns have started, cancelling decisions on electoral district creation violates the rights of candidates, who consented to their nomination (submitted nomination application) within a district created by the territorial election commission.

23 September, Kosivskyi district court in Ivano-Frankivska oblast cancelled the Rozhnivska UTC village council decision from 19.09.2017 on approving the number of electoral districts in the villages of Rozhniv, Kobaky, and Khimchyn and ordered the commission to rearrange electoral districts in accordance with the norms of the Article 17 of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections. The appealer believes that the commission did not follow the norm on approximately equal number of voters in each district. The court have acknowledged this fact and agreed that the TEC’s decision was premature and unreasonable since it did not provide any arguments in favour of such districts distribution.

The Novobuzkyi district court in Mykolaivska oblast, on 4 October, cancelled the decision of Novopoltavska village election commission on creating electoral districts. By passing that decision the commission allowed divergence from the principle of equal number of voters in districts but the court allowed major procedural violations.  The appeal application was filed to the court breaking the deadlines (but the court prolonged the deadline taking into account that the last application day was Sunday although this norm is not applicable to electoral disputes). Administrative cases are to be judged by the court in two days but the first hearing was scheduled only after seven days and was twice postponed. Also, in its decision, the court has indicated 10 day limitation of legal claims while in electoral disputes it should be 2 days. The appeal was filed by the commission in four days but until now the court of appeal has passed no judgment. Therefore, the election is held within districts previously created by the commission.

27 September, Chernihivskyi district court decided to cancel the decision of Ichnianska city electoral commission in Chernihivska oblast on creating electoral districts on the grounds of failure to comply with the principle of approximately equal number of voters in districts. 29 September, the decision was supported by the Kyiv administrative court of appeal. Instead of following the court’s prescription, Ichnianska election commission passes another decision on recognizing the initial decision on creating electoral districts a valid one. 4 October, Chernihivskyi district administrative court judges to cancel that decision and on 7 October 2017 the Kyiv administrative court of appeal supports the judgment of the court of first instance. However, despite the 4 court decisions, the TEC continues the election process within districts previously created on 20 September.

Table 1.Creation of electoral districts at the first local UTC election on 29 October 2017: abnormal deviations from average number of voters(city councils)

UTC councils Number of districts Total number of voters Average number of voters in a district District with the largest number of voters District with the least number of voters Maximum deviation form the average number of voters in a district
Bobrovytska city council (Chernihivska oblast) 34 20112 592 1163 97 510%
Pomichnianska city council (Chernihivska oblast) 26 18533 713 2138 125 470%
Radomyshl’ska city council (Zhytomyrska oblast) 26 19453 748 1882 139 438%
Horodotska city council (Khmelnytska oblast) 34 26383 776 1266 180 331%
Rudkivska city council (Lvivska oblast) 26 9846 379 577 90 321%
Zhashkivska city council (Cherkaska oblast) 26 14644 563 766 161 250%
Trostianetska city council (Sumska oblast) 26 17647 679 794 198 243%

Table 2. Creation of electoral districts at the first local UTC election on 29 October 2017: abnormal deviations from average number of voters (town councils)

UTC councils Number of districts Total number of voters Average number of voters in a district District with the largest number of voters District with the least number of voters Maximum deviation form the average number of voters in a district
Zabolotivska town council (Ivano-Frankivska oblast) 26 11169 430 726 69 523%
Velykodymerska town council (Kyivska oblast) 26 15952 614 819 100 514%
Sribnianska town council (Chernihivska oblast) 26 8534 328 478 57 476%
Tsebrykivska town council (Odeska oblast) 22 3541 161 241 39 313%
Slavska town council (Lvivska oblast) 26 6606 254 321 63 303%

Table 3.Creation of electoral districts at the first local UTC election on 29 October 2017: abnormal deviations from average number of voters (village councils)

UTC councils Number of districts Total number of voters Average number of voters in a district District with the largest number of voters District with the least number of voters Maximum deviation form the average number of voters in a district
Pryvilska village council (Luhanska oblast) 14 1163 83 110 24 246%
Irkliivskavillage council(Cherkaska oblast) 22 4485 204 293 61 234%
Mezhyritska village council (Dnipropetrovska oblast) 26 6218 239 367 75 219%
Ovadnivska village council (Volynska oblast) 22 3884 177 261 57 210%

The first election in united territorial communities is based on several voting systems. Election of deputies of village and town communities (176) is based on single-member simple majority system. In order to hold election of village and town deputies, single-member districts with approximately equal number of voters are created. In each single-member district only one village or town council deputy can be elected. To win in a district, a candidate has to score the highest number of votes. If there is only one candidate on the voting list, he or she has to score over a half of votes cast at the election.

Deputies to city councils (25 communities) are elected based on proportional representation system in multi-member electoral districts according to candidate lists of political parties’ local organizations with candidates being assigned to territorial electoral districts, into which the multi-member district is divided. Council seats are shared by local organizations of political parties that scored five or more per cent of votes in relation to the total number of votes cast for political parties’ local organizations. Priority sequence among candidates from local party organizations, who won mandates, is arranged in a decreasing order of percentage of votes cast for a respective local party organization in territorial electoral districts, for which candidates are assigned. All candidates on the list except the first one (list leader) are assigned for individual territorial electoral districts.

Election of village, town, and city mayors (201) are based on simple majority system. A candidate, who scores the highest number of votes in relation to other candidates becomes a winner. Candidates for city mayors have to make monetary deposit in order to participate in the election, while candidates for town and village mayors do not have such an obligation.


Election of united territorial communities’ mayors (city, town, village, together)

There are 944 candidates nominated for the elections of united territorial communities’ mayors, of which 609 or 65% are self-nominated and 255 or 35% are nominated by political parties’ local organizations. However, candidates from political parties’ local organizations prevail at elections in 25 cities: 80 out of 120 or 67% are nominees of political parties’ local organizations. This distinguishes elections of city mayors from those in towns and villages since at the latter majority of candidates are self-nominated (569 or 69%).

Activity of political parties’ local organizations and self-nominated candidates at the elections of city, town, and village mayors

Candidates for city, town, and village mayors Elections of city mayors Elections of town and village mayors Total
Party nominees 80 255 335
Self-nominees 40 569 609
Total 120 824 944

The largest number of candidates for the election of city, town, and village mayors among political parties’ local organizations are nominated by Petro Poroshenko Bloc (82 candidates or 41% of communities), AU Bat’kivschyna (56 candidates or 28% of communities), Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP (32 candidates of 16% of communities)

Activity of local parties’ organizations at the elections of city, town, and village mayors: parties by largest representation

Party Number of cities with mayor candidacy from the party Number of villages/ towns with mayor candidacy from the party Total % of communities where the party has a mayor candidacy % of  city communities where the party has a mayor candidacy % of  village and town communities where the party has a mayor candidacy
Petro Poroshenko Bloc Solidarity 14 68 82 41% 56% 39%
All-Ukrainian Union Batkivschyna 13 43 56 28% 52% 24%
Ukrainian Union of Patriots - UKROP 3 29 32 16% 12% 16%
AU Svoboda 12 14 26 13% 48% 8%
Union Samopomich  (Self-help) 9 17 26 13% 36% 10%
OlehLiashko’sRadicalParty 8 18 26 13% 32% 10%
Agrarian Party of Ukraine 3 13 16 8% 12% 7%
Nash Krai (Our Land) 1 15 16 8% 4% 9%
Opposition Bloc 4 10 14 7% 16% 6%
Narodnyi Rukh Ukrainy (People’s Movement of Ukraine) 2 6 8 4% 8% 3%
MikhailoSaakashvili’sMovementofthe New Forces 1 5 6 3% 4% 3%
Political Party Narodnyi Front (Peoples’ Front) 0 6 6 3% 0% 3%


Election of village and town mayors

There are 824 candidates registered for the election of village and town mayors, of which 569 or 69% are self-nominated and 255 or 31% were nominated by political parties’ local organizations. OPORA observers have recorded only 6 instances of TECs’ refusal to register candidates for town and village mayors in 176 communities of corresponding level. In all communities, where the election will take place on 29 October 2017, TECs denied registration to 3 self-nominated candidates and 2 candidates from political parties’ local organizations.

Reasons for denying registration to candidates for town and village mayors included:

1. Absent or inappropriate property, income and financial liability declaration (16 instances)

All instances of denied candidate registration because of inappropriate or absent property, income and financial liability declaration were registered in Luka-Meleshivska village united territorial community (Vinnytska oblast). The same commission and on the same grounds denied registration to two candidates for village mayor. According to OPORA observers, 9 candidates at the election of the village council and of the mayor appealed to the court on the TEC’s decision. Some of the appeals were positively judged by the court.

One has to mention that the current legislation insufficiently regulates the issue of submitting property, income and financial liability declaration to TECs by candidates when registering for local elections. The Law of Ukraine On Local Elections says that candidates for deputies to city, town and village councils as well as for mayors submit declarations (for the previous year) as persons delegated to perform government or local governance function. Back in 2016, the National Agency on Corruption Prevention adopted the declaration form, which should be filled in and submitted personally by the declaring person at the Agency website. One does not submit paper declaration. Instead, the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections obliges candidates to submit property, income and liability declarations to TECs. Non-conformity of the two laws created conditions for non-uniform implementation of the Law by election commissions.

2. Candidate was nominated by political party’s local organization, which had no right to nominated candidates (16 instances)

All 16 instances happened in Liubeshivska town TEC (Volinska oblast), which denied registration to the candidates from the Rozumna Syla (Smart Force) political party’s local organization, that was not registered in the district as required by the Law.

3. Absence of and/or inaccuracies in candidate’s Autobiography (8 instances).

Avanhardiska twon election commission (Odeska oblast) refused to register a candidate for council deputies because of problems with candidates’ autobiography. An observer noted that in no cases TEC denied registration to candidates due to problems with proper filling in the form but passed the relevant decisions. The Law of Ukraine on Local Elections says that mistakes and inaccuracies found in the documents candidates submit to commissions are to be corrected and do not give sufficient grounds to deny registration to a candidate (the Article 41 (12) of the Law).

4. Political party’s local organization has not timely informed TEC about the candidate nomination meeting.

Palanska (Umanskyi district) and Morynska (Korsun-Shevchenkivskii district) village communities in Cherkasska oblast denied registration to 3 and 10 caniddates respectively because of late notice to TEC about the date, time and venue of the meeting for nominating candidates for village council deputies. The Article 37(5) of the Law of Ukraine On Local Elections says that a political party’s local organization informs TEC in written on arranging a meeting for nominating candidates no later than one day in advance.

5. TEC members attended candidate nomination meeting of the local party organization but at registration discovered that applications are submitted for persons other than those approved at the meeting (5 instances).

Kuialnytska village TEC (Posilskyi district in Odeska oblast) denied registration to 5 candidates from the Agrarian Party of Ukraine’s local organization. The TEC decision refers to the unconformity between names of candidates nominated at the meeting of the Agrarian Party of Ukraine local organization and those indicated in documents submitted to the TEC. TEC members were present at the meeting and did not record nomination of the 5 candidates, mentioned in the documents submitted to the election commission. According to OPORA observers, the political party local organization followed the procedure and me the deadline for submitting candidate registration documents. OPORA stresses that TEC’s power to control candidate nomination procedure is quite limited. The Law gives TEC members right to attend party meeting but does not specifies how commission members can record the list of candidates nominated at the meeting. At the regular local elections in 2015 some courts decided that the only grounds for registering a candidate was decision of the meeting of party’s local organization certified by the seal and approved by the central leadership body of the party. Such judges’ position was based on the fact that TECs had no power to inspect actual conditions of candidate nomination at the local organization’s meeting.

6.Nominations from several nominating subjects (from different parties or from a party and by self-nomination)

In Dal’nytska village community (Ovidiopols’kyi district in Odeska oblast) the TEC denied registration to self-nominating candidates included at the same time to the candidate lists of political parties at the regular elections of the district council in 2015. The Palanska village TEC (Umans’kyi district in Cherkaska oblast) denied registration to a candidate, who was simultaneously nominated by local organizations of Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party and AU Batkivschyna. The Palanska village TEC denied registration to an individual nominated by local organizations of two different political parties. For the same reason two candidates were denied registration in Hrytsivska town community (Shepetivskyi district in Khmel’nytska oblast).

There were 4 candidate registration denials on the grounds of absent or inappropriate registration application from political party’s local organization in two communities (Avanhardivska town community in Odeska oblast  - 2; and Hlukhovetska town community in Vinnytska oblast – 2).

Inappropriately prepared or absent decision of party’s local organization candidate nomination meeting was grounds for registration denial to two candidates (Avanhardivska town community), absence or inappropriate candidate’s application on self-nomination and/or consent to publicizing biographic information – in Ivanisvka village community in Vinnytska oblast – 2.

Absent appropriate passport, its copies, and candidates’s photographs were grounds for registration denials to two candidates (Malodanilivska town community in Kharkivska oblast and Dubechnenska village community in Kharkivska oblast). Two candidates to council deputies were denied registration because of absent or inappropriately prepared application for self-nomination and/or consent to publicize biographic information.

TECs denied registration to 7 candidates on the grounds of absence of most of the documents required for registration.

OPORA observers noticed a number of questionable TEC decisions in regard to registering candidates for the election of village and town councils. For instance, the Ivan’kivska village election commission in Mankivskyi district, Cherkaska oblast, has registered an individual, who, according to documents, was simultaneously nominated by local organizations of two political parties (the Agrarian Party of Ukraine and AU Cherkaschany (Cherkasians)). In spite of the fact of simultaneous nomination from different political parties’ local organizations, the TEC decided to register that individual as a candidate from one of the parties instead of denying the registration. According to the Article 35(5) of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections, an individual can be nominated as a candidate for deputy to local councils by only one political party’s local organization.

Contrary to the norms of the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections (Article 35(4)), the Buzivska village election commission in Zhashkivskyi district, Cherkaska oblast, has registered the same individual as a candidate for both village council deputy and mayor. The legislation forbids an individual nominated as candidate for deputy in a single-member electoral district or for village, town or city mayor to be simultaneously nominated in any other single-member or united single-member electoral district at any local election. The Liubeshivslyi district court in Volynska oblast passed a questionable decision allowing possibility to be simultaneously nominated in several single-member electoral districts. This court judged unlawful and cancelled the Liubeshivska town election commission’s decision denying registration to an individual attempting to become a candidate for both town mayor and town council deputy.

Civic Network OPORA’s observers found out that part of the candidates from the Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP at the election at Oleshynska, Slobids’ko-Kulchievetska, and Horodotska united territorial communities in Khmelnytska oblast have not signed their consents to be nominated and have not submitted personal declarations and autobiographies. It later appeared that all these individuals were nominated to Khmelnytska city council from this party in 2015.

Election of local council deputies

The Civic Network OPORA has previously published an interim report on candidate registration at the election of city council deputies. According to OPORA observers, 13 out of 50 parties, who considered participation of their local organizations in the election, have nominated no candidate list. It was only three parties, whose local organizations have nominated candidate lists in all 25 cities.

Instances of registration denials to candidates listed by local organizations were not frequent. Observers recorded 32 candidate registration denials at city council deputies election, while there were 296 separate candidate lists registered. At the same time, OPORA discovered a number of candidate registration problems at respective elections caused by poor quality of electoral legislation. In particular, the Law of Ukraine on Local Elections’ ambiguity about the document, certifying permanent residence of and individual, who possesses a passport of a citizen of Ukraine in the form of ID-card led to registration denial to a deputy candidate (Zhashkivska city cimmunity in Cherkaska oblast). Although almost a million Ukrainians received Ukrainian passports in the form of ID-card, electoral legislation has not been updated to accommodate this innovation. According to the paragraph two of the Article 40(1) of the Law of Ukraine of Local Elections, registration documents that candidates for deputies in multi-member districts submit should include copies of pages one and two of their passports as well as pages containing information about place of their residence in accordance with the Law of Ukraine on Freedom of Movement and Free Choice of Place of Residence in Ukraine. There are similar requirements for deputy candidates in single-member districts, candidates for village, town and city mayors as well as for election commission members. Place of residence information is stored on the electronic chip of the ID cards but TECs are not supplied with the equipment to read that information. Candidate could confirm his/her place of residence by a certificate as envisaged by the Rules on residence registration (the CMU Decision # 207 from 20.03.2016). Instead, election commissions refer to the Law of Ukraine On Local Elections together with the CEC Instructions, which do not regulate the issue of registering citizens of Ukraine, who have their passports in the form of ID-card.


Local election campaign in united territorial communities is characterized by significantly lower-scale activity of the election process subjects and lesser intensity of public events as compared to the national campaigns. Even after the official candidate registration was over, the majority of participants do not demonstrate any activity in the districts.

Typical for all previous elections problem of early campaigning was not as prominent at this election. OPORA observers have recorded instances of campaigning activities on the part of candidates for deputies in only three UTCs (Zborivska city UTC in Ternopilska oblast, Oleshynska village UTC and Slobidskokulchievetska village UTC in Khmelnitska oblast) and 9 similar violations on the part of candidates for local mayors (Kytaihorodska village UTC in Dnipropetrovska oblast, Lanovetska city UTC in Ternopilska oblast, Oleshynska village UTC and Slobidskokulchievetska village UTC in Khmelnitska oblast, Kamianska city UTC and Morynska village UTC in Cherkaska oblast, Mamaivska UTC in Chernivetska oblast, Katerynivska village UTC in Kirovohradska oblast).

Officially, campaign starts on the following day after respective territorial election commission passes decision on candidate registration.

Among political parties, despite overall low activity of election process subjects, the AU Batkivschyna runs the most noticeable campaign. According to OPORA, this party’s campaign covers 33% of UTCs, where first local elections are to take place on 29 October. BPP’s coverage rate, as of mid-October, was only 21%. The next one, in terms of campaign activity, is the Agrarian Party of Ukraine (campaign is recorded in 18% of UTCs) and UKROP (17% of UTCs).

Party rankingsubjects of the election process by scale of campaigning in UTCs

Party Percentage of districts where campaigning is recorded
AU Batkivschyna 33%
Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc Solidarity 21%
The Agrarian Party of Ukraine 18%
Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party 12%
Nash Krai (Our Land) 9%
AU Svoboda 8%
Union Samopomich (Self-Help) 8%
Opposition Bloc 7%








Candidates for deputies and for local mayors use similar ways of campaigning. Of the forms of campaigning, listed by the Law of Ukraine on Local Election, Article 54(5), the most popular ones in practice was various meetings with voters. Such measures on the part of candidates for deputies are recorded in 51% of UTCs. Also, a prevailing form of campaigning is distribution of electoral leaflets, posters and other printed campaigning materials: on the part of candidates for deputies – in 49% of UTCs, of candidates for local mayors – in 46% of UTCs. Display of political advertisements in printed and audio-visual Media was recorded in 26% and 24% of UTCs respectively.

Prevailing types of campaigning among candidates for deputies

Types of campaigning Percentage of UTCs where such campaigning is recorded
Citizens gathering, meetings with voters 51%
Distribution of election leaflets and posters 49%
Political advertisementinprintedand audio-visual (electronic) Media 26%
Campaigning booths installation 19%
Outdoor political advertisements 18%
Concerts, shows, sportsevents, movie  andTVshows andother formsofpublic 8%
Political rallies, marches, picketing 1%
Public debates, discussions, round tables, press-conferences 1%


Типи агітації Відсоток ОТГ, де зафіксовано таку агітацію
Citizens gathering, meetings with voters 56%
Distribution of election leaflets and posters 46%
Political advertisementinprintedand audio-visual (electronic) Media 24%
Concerts, shows, sportsevents, movie  andTVshows andother formsofpublic 12%
Outdoor political advertisements 11%
Campaigning booths installation 10%
Public debates, discussions, round tables, press-conferences 2%
Political rallies, marches, picketing 1%

Arranging public debates, discussions, round tables, press-conferences as well as mass activities are the least common forms of campaigning amon parties and candidates nominating for first local elections. Similarly, other non-traditional ways of campaigning are very little used. Election participants almost do not use social networks and present-day online tools for campaigning purposes, which, obviously, is due to insufficient coverage and low number of Internet users among voters in rural areas. Among typical examples of campaigning in UTCs one can mention the following cases: a meeting with voters next to the church with participation of local priest and candidates from the party Svoboda (Velykomostivska city UTC, Lvivska oblast); a vehicle moving through villages of the UTC and campaigning done through the loudspeaker (Kyrylivska town united territorial community in Zaporiz’ka oblast); Oleh Liashko’s Radical Party presented two washing machines to the kindergarten in the village of Tarakaniv (Tarakanivska village united territorial community in Rivnenska oblast). The latter example has signs of indirect voter bribing.

Widespread distribution of printed campaign materials by parties and candidates, which was recorded in over quarter of all UTCs, sharply contrasts with how parties comply with Articla 56(3) of the Law on Local Elections. According to this norm, parties’ local organizations, whose candidates are registered in multi-member electoral districts, candidates for deputies in single-member electoral districts, candidates for village, town and city mayor have to submit to the TEC one sample of every printed campaign material produced on their own expense and using their own equipment no later than two days after its production.

Out of 25 city UTCs, where the local election is to take place on 29 October, in 14 UTCs no political party has submitted its samples of printed campaign materials. The best, but very exceptional case was in Semebivska city united territorial community, where 8 out of 9 parties (subjects of the election process) have followed this obligation. Among candidates for deputies at the elections to town and village councils of the UTCs, slightly more than 2% of registered candidates submitted at least one sample of their printed campaigning materials. The problem with such unsatisfactory implementation of this legal norm is due to absence of clearly defined responsibility for its violation and due to absent control over how subjects of the election process campaign including following this norm of the Law.

One notes use of techniques that narrow voters’ opportunities for free choice, although at a lower scale than during the parliamentary election. In particular, there were recorded instances of potential distortions of voting results via so-called clone-candidates – individuals, whose personal data matches that of top-ranked or well recognized candidates.

In 7.3 UTCs clones were discovered among candidates for deputies and in 5% of UTCs – among candidates for local mayors. The fact that none of the clone-candidates performs any public activity confirms that their registration was a manipulation technique.

Although a large number of candidates for both mayors and deputies do not perform any public campaigning the number of quits by candidate personal application or by application of party’s local organization is minimal.

3.2 % of candidate for local mayors quitted their nominations submitting according applications. Among candidates for deputies, the rate of nomination quits is minimal comprising less than 1%.

This can indicate that the real goal of such candidates’ registration is obtaining extr-competitive advantages within the election process, namely for getting additional representation quotas in precinct election commissions.


Considering the local nature of election process and candidates’ activities being hardly noticeable, intensity of violations at this stage of election campaign is minimal. The most frequent violations of the legislation by subjects of the election process are electoral commission members being absent at commission work without sensible reason.  Observers have recorded 19 such cases, namely in Zhydychyns’ka village UTC and Boratyns’ka village UTC in Volynska oblast, Fursivska village UTC and Divychkivska village UTC in Kyivska oblast, Rudkivs’ka city UTC in Lvivska oblast, Moryns’kii village UTC in Cherkaska oblast, Kitsmans’ka UTC in Chernivetska oblast, Baranyns’ka village UTC in Zakarpatska oblast.

There are 15 recorded instances of distribution (installation) of campaign materials in places prohibited by the Law, namely in Shyrokivska town UTC in Dnipropetrovska oblast, Iakymivska town UTC and Kyrylivska town UTC in Zaporizka oblast, Velykomostivska city UTC in Lvivska oblast, Khorostivska city UTC and Zborivska city UTC in Ternopilska oblast. In most cases, this was an indication of irresponsibility and deliberate violation of the law by parties and candidates. However, the problem also is that, according to OPORA, in 16% of UTCs local governance authorities failed to provide and equip locations for election campaign materials display.

Also, there were 14 recorded instances of distributing campaigning materials without necessary information as well as use of communal Media and official information outlets of state and local government authorities for campaigning purposes (11 instances).

OPORA observers have noted that in most UTCs (in 68% of total) the law enforcement authorities did not perform intensive educational and preventive activities among subjects of the election process in UTCs for violations prevention.

Ranking of election violations (as of mid-October 2017)

Type of violation Number Percentage of total
Election commission member absent at commission work without sensible reason 19 24%
Distribution (installation) of campaigning materials in places forbidden by the law 15 19%
Distribution of campaigning materials without necessary information 14 18%
Use of communal Media and official state and local government information outlets for campaigning purposes 11 14%
Useofofficialevents byofficials, who arepotential candidatesoralreadybecame actualcandidates, for campaigning. 8 10%
Involvement of state or publicly funded institutions employees for campaigning purposes 4 5%
Candidatepublic supportbyofficialsduring workhours 3 4%
Other violations 5 6%

There were no critical problems or serious conflicts recorded in TECs operation, which could have a negative impact on election process preparation. At the same time, occasional procedural problems make commissions’ work and effective cooperation of its members somewhat more difficult. For instance, the least satisfactory situation with following procedure requirements has to do with preparation of TEC draft decisions. Only 81% of TECs do it in time.

Also, observers have recorded 20 instances of court appeals on decisions, actions or inaction of TECs. Appeals were mostly filed by candidates and were in response to denied or cancelled registrations of candidates or removing them from candidate lists. For instance, by the Decision #19 from 10 October 2017, Radomyshl’ska city election commission cancelled registration  of 26 candidates for deputies to Radomyshl’ city UTC. Individual subjects of the nomination from AU Bat’kivschyna, the political party Nash Krai (Our Land), BPP Solidarity, the Agrarian Party of Ukraine and from Samopomich (Self-help), with the total number of 19, appealed to the court, which resulted in cancelling the TEC’s decision on their removal from the list.

Another example was when on 11 October (after the legally set deadline) the Verkhniodniprovska city TEC passed a decision to cancel registration of the first candidate in the candidate list in response to the CEC letter with instructions to remove candidates who consented to be nominated by several political parties, from candidate lists. Approving the text of the voting ballot, the commission removed Union Samopomich (self-Help) in those 8 districts, where candidates were not affixed. The commission explained its decision by absence of candidate’s surname in the ballot due to cancelled registration of the candidate #1 in the list and absence of a candidate affixed to the district. 3 October 2017, Dnipropetrovskyi district administrative court judged to cancel commission’s decision on cancelling registration of the candidate outside of the legally set timeframe. 16 October 2017, the Verkhniodniprovska city TEC, following court’s judgment, cancelled its decisions on denying candidate registration and approving ballot text bringing the party in question back to the ballot. 17 October 2017, Dniprovskyi district administrative court judged that passing a decision on approving ballot text by the commission was unlawful.

But overall, operation of TECs was organized appropriately. Separation of responsibilities and schedule of shifts for commission members are defined. TECs work openly; there are no recorded instances of journalists or observers being denied access to TEC meetings. Almost all commissions follow legally set procedures – apart from previously mentioned ones– in their operation. In particular, meeting minutes are kept (in 99% of TECs), decisions are prepared in the form of resolutions and displayed on the information board (97% if TECs), and records of applications are kept (96% if TECs).

Following legally set procedures by TECs

Procedures Percentage of TECs, that follow them
Meeting minutes are kept 99,4%
Decisions are prepared in the form of resolutions and displayed at the information board 97,2%
Application record is kept 96,0%
Draft decisions are prepared 81,4%

Over 10% of TECs have reported lack of appropriate facilities and equipment. Key problems were shortages with office equipment, lack of Internet access, poor quality of premises and lack of stationary goods.

Observers have recorded no confirmed instances of pressure put on TECs or their members on the part of state authorities or representatives of  certain candidates (parties).

Almost all district TECs kept within deadlines for PEC creation for first local elections in UTC (through 13 October). An exceptions are Martynivska and Sokolivska TECs in Zhytomyrska oblast as well as Divychivska TEC in Kyivska oblast. However, according to recent observer information (has to be confirmed) at least 194 PECs held their first meetings out of time schedule.

Territorial election commissions allowed procedure violations while creating precinct election commissions. First of all, this is about sortition procedure violations (separate sortitions for each commission (Fursivska village election commission in Kyivska oblast); taking into account applications from inappropriate subjects (extra-parliamentary factions) (Volynska oblast); inclusion of applications failing to comply with the law (more than one candidacy from one subject) (Kyivska oblast); inclusion of applications proposed by head of TEC in the way that commission composition was greater than minimal (Poltavska oblast). In some cases, after faults in commission creation were discovered, TECs made amendments to their decisions so that individuals nominated by inappropriate subjects or with violations in regard to the number of candidacies, were for the second time excluded or included from|to the list on proposition of the TEC head.

It is only in 40% of UTCs that departments of State Electoral Register actively inform voters on the need to check and correct their data in the Register. The rest of the departments inform the public non-systemically and selectively.


To Central Election Commission

  • To maintain control over equal implementation of electoral legislation  by territorial election commissions, taking into account legal ambiguity on a number of important procedures.
  • Takingintoaccountexperiencepreviouslocalelections, tointroduceefficientcommunicationchannelswithterritorialelectioncommissionsintohelpthemsortingtheir operational problems.


  • To pass amendments to the legislation to ensure legal clarity of the election process at first local elections in united territorial communities, which will help to avoid problems at the following elections at a corresponding level.
  • Toresumework onpreviouscommitmentsimplementing afull-fledgedelectoralreformandimprovingelectoral

To law enforcement authorities

  • To ensure efficient monitoring and fixation of legislation violations at the election, paying special attention to cases of material stimulation of voters.
  • To perform thematic trainings for law enforcement bodies employees, who will be directly involved in investigating crimes at first local elections in united territorial communities.
  • To strengthen informing, educational and preventive work aimed at electoral crimes prevention. 

Additional information:

OPORA interim report on results of observation of first local elections in united territorial communities on 29 October 2017 (September 2017)

Operational report on results of observation of election of local mayors, deputies of city councils at first local elections in united territorial communities on 29 October 2017