With the election day in 201 united territorial communities coming closer, the candidates became more active in their election campaigns. In particular, there are more incidents of pre-electoral charity, which may be classified as indirect bribery.

At the moment of writing the report, OPORA's observers have over 250 violations of electoral legislation. The top violation is dissemination of campaign materials outside of the places established by the law (40% of the total number). Violation of campaigning rules is another frequent and usual for Ukraine violation. However, OPORA noticed that the quantity of so-called pre-electoral charity has increased on the eve of election day. Attempts of giving material incentives to the voters were accompanied by direct violation of the law, or so-called “gray” technologies, which are inadmissible in terms of free exercise of the franchise. Observers noticed that budget programs and subventions were used in favor of the certain candidates. Besides that, there were incidents when public officials violated campaigning restrictions. Although they tried to avoid direct violations of electoral legislation, they ignored the general standards of political impartiality of a civil servant and equal treatment of all candidates by state authorities.

According to OPORA's estimations, local cells and candidates of the AUU Batkivshchyna are the most active in campaigning efforts, covering 54% of territorial communities with various types of activities. Local cells of the Petro Poroshenko Bloc “Solidarity” are presented by noticeable campaigning in 42% of communities. Campaigning of the Ukrainian Union of Patriots – UKROP, Agrarian Party of Ukraine, Radical Party of Oleh Liashko and Samopomich Union are slightly less widespread. Other political parties do not conduct national campaigns, and are focused on the certain communities. Parties and candidates are increasingly using printed campaign materials besides meeting with voters (80% of candidates used this type of campaigning). Political advertisement in the media is not popular in the first local elections, to be held on 29 October 2017. However, over 30% of candidates used this type of campaigning. At the same time, many candidates used an opportunity not to open electoral fund accounts, provided by the legislation. At the same time, a significant number of candidates took advantage of legitimate opportunity and didn’t open electoral fund accounts. According to Civil Network OPORA’s observers, 45% of local mayoral candidates didn’t notify TECs of opening an electoral fund account, which made it impossible to properly monitor the transparency of the use of electoral funds in the course of campaign. The statistics on submission of interim financial reports by local organizations of political parties and candidates are even worse. Only 1% of candidates for deputies to village and township councils have submitted interim financial reports to the TECs, while in 12 out of 25 city UTCs none of the local organizations of political parties  has submitted the corresponding report. 16.4% of candidates for the post of village, township and city mayor have complied with the requirement for submission of interim financial report. The need to strengthen control over the funding of pre-election campaigns is evidenced by the fact that candidates ignore legal requirement for submission of samples of campaign materials to the TECs. For example, at the elections held in village and township UTCs less than 10% of candidates have submitted samples of campaign materials to the TECs, which is far less than the actual amount of distributed  campaign materials.

According to Civil Network OPORA’s observers, the work of territorial election commissions was organized in a proper manner. However, cases of judicial appeals against the decisions of TECs have become more frequent, which is evidence of inadequate level of professionalism and irresponsible fulfillment of duties by members of TECs. Various kinds of high-profile cases of judicial appeals against the decisions, actions or inaction of TECs and their members were recorded in 23 UTCs. Cases of illegitimate denial of registration or unlawful registration of candidates were the most common reasons for legal recourse. In addition to that, candidates appealed against TEC decisions on removal from electoral lists, introduction of amendments to the text of ballot paper or inaction of TECs.

According to Civil Network OPORA, 186 out of 201 TECs complied with the time limits for approving the texts of ballot papers in 2017 first local elections of village, township and city mayors. Meanwhile, 185 TECs met the deadlines for approving the texts of ballots in the elections of deputies to local councils. Therefore, 92% of TECs approved the texts of ballot papers in a timely manner. Cases of failure to comply with the deadlines occurred due to incomplete legal proceedings against TEC decisions on denial or revocation of registration of a candidate. Civil Network OPORA’s observers and other electoral subjects found errors and inaccuracies in the texts of ballot papers in 26 TECs (13% of the total number of TECs). The list of detected errors included mistakes in personal information about candidates, incorrect indication of the positions and places of employment of candidates, wrong information about party affiliation of candidates for elected positions, inaccuracies in legislatively determined names of electoral districts and elections in general. Furthermore, TECs disregarded the deadlines for receiving ballot papers from manufacturing companies on a massive scale in the first local elections scheduled for October 29, 2017.According to the data of Civil Network’s OPORA observers, 131 TECs (65%) received ballot papers in breach of the statutory deadline (October 24, 2017). There are various reasons for failing to comply with the deadlines for producing ballot papers, including problems with crediting the amounts to the accounts of printing houses, the need for reprinting part of the ballot papers, inability of enterprises to execute the order in a timely manner. However, the problem of engaging police in escort and protection of ballot papers during transportation and storage thereof at the premises of TECs is another common reason for delay. Observers have repeatedly pointed to the fact of existence of non-public agreement between the police and TECs on the postponement of delivery and receipt of ballot papers with the aim of reducing the number of days, during which the police officers would be engaged in protection of ballots. This led to the fact that the ballot papers were stored at the premises of manufacturing companies for a period exceeding statutory deadline. Not only such practice constitutes a formal violation of statutory deadline, but also negatively affects the ability to detect errors in ballot papers so as to leave enough time for urgent production of new electoral documentation. At the same time, there are no reasonable grounds to believe that ballot papers are stored at the premises of enterprises in a more secure way than they would have been at the premises of TECs with the involvement of police officers. Civil Network OPORA urges TECs and law enforcement agencies to ensure proper storage and protection of ballot papers as well as refrain from negligence of their duties as prescribed by the Law of Ukraine “On Local Elections”.

According to Civil Network OPORA, State registration bodies and law enforcement agencies don’t conduct active outreach and communication with voters. Observers noted that departments responsible for maintenance of State Register of Voters take an active role in informing the voters about the need for data clarification in the State Register of Voters only in 13% of UTCs. Furthermore, law enforcement bodies conduct preventive and outreach activities among voters and electoral subjects for the purpose of preventing electoral violations only in 27% of UTCs.

Concerning commentaries please refer to:

Olga Aivazovska, coordinator of Civil Network OPORA’s electoral and parliamentary programs

Tel.: 063 6179750

Oleksandr Klyuzhev, Civil Network OPORA’s analyst

Tel.: 063 8446723

Oleksandr Neberykut, Civil Network OPORA’s analyst

Tel.: 063 6286837

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