Over 100 CSOs signed a statement about the impossibility of holding elections during the active phase of the war, and urge international partners to increase support for Ukraine to make sure the war ends in victory as soon as possible, and the democratic elections become feasible.
Civil society organizations initiate a public process to collect signatures under the joint statement against having elections in Ukraine during the Russian aggression. The pronouncement includes basic reasoning to explain why elections during the active phase of the war are extremely dangerous. They believe that elections and a full-scale war are not compatible. After all, elections during such time may result in loss of legitimacy of the electoral process and the elected authorities. Currently, it is hard to secure full participation in the vote for the members of the military and for voters staying out of country. Moreover, during the legal regime of the martial law, there is no political competition. It would be extremely hard to have the results accepted by winners and losers alike.
You can publicly sign and support the statement at the link: https://forms.gle/NAYmubaaTrfnuQyc9
NGOs remind that the law does not authorize having elections under the martial law, and Part 4 of Article 83 of the Constitution of Ukraine directly bans the termination of powers of the parliament, and automatically extends the mandate until the moment the new convocation is elected after the war. All public authorities shall work full-scale, have complete legitimacy, and be consolidated to as much extent possible. These provisions are fully in line with the venues followed by other democratic states. Any change to the law to make elections during the war formally “legitimate” would contradict the spirit of the Constitution and international standards.
The signatories thereby declare that elections are not about the voting day, but also about the resonant debate between different camps on a better agenda for the country’s growth. In the event when competitive political struggle is impossible during the war, elections are certainly not free.
Furthermore, disinformation that Russians have been massively sharing in Ukraine and globally will target the trust of campaign organizers and participants trying to delegitimize the process and the outcomes. Until the military and the volunteers, due to their daily priorities, can participate in the campaign, both as voters, and as candidates, it will be a reason for internal confrontations and misunderstandings.
Also, during the martial law, certain rights and freedoms may be restricted. As a result, it is impossible to fully provide for the freedom of speech and press during the war, which are pre-requisites for free and fair competition during elections.
Ukraine will face extreme security and operational challenges that could not be overcome through any changes to the law: destroyed infrastructure, actual impossibility to ensure full security to all actors, the need to guarantee suffrage to over 7 mln citizens relocated out of country and displaced internally, and to over 1 mln combatants, challenges in engaging police during the war as units of Defense Forces of Ukraine for the security of elections, etc. Since ~20% of our country’s territory is occupied or is a zone of hostilities, and another ~20% is within the direct reach of artillery systems, and missiles and drones are launched all over the country, it will pose unprecedented and unjustified risks. Possible massive missile strikes on election day will prevent access of citizens to polling stations, and disrupt the process. We should also keep in mind that people with disabilities would not be able to cast their ballot in such conditions, including veterans who became disabled during the war.
Several recent representative opinion polls clearly demonstrate that the people of Ukraine support the extension of the Parliament’s mandate, even despite the current dissatisfaction of this and other institutions, and support the conduct of elections only after the war ends.
The conduct of post-war elections in Ukraine will be costly because of the consequences of the war with Russia.
“In the wartime, such costs are not justified and cynical, as Ukraine keeps fighting for its survival and needs more weapons and munitions, equipment for hospitals and other humanitarian aid,” say the declaration’s initiators.
They added that elections in Ukraine must take place, but only after the end of war and the victory of Ukraine, when security and other conditions are in place allowing elections to be organized freely, fairly, democratically, and accessibly.
The Organizations urge the Verkhovna Rada to not hold elections during the war but to immediately start the full-fledged expert effort to overcome challenges in conducting post-war elections, to draft the necessary laws ahead of time, following inclusive discussions, and relying on the principle of legal certainty.
Political parties shall work on democratization and development of their own organizations, rather than polarizing social attitudes for political purposes, and focus on reforms and recovery strategy for post-war Ukraine as a democratic and developed modern state.
The organizations call on international partners of Ukraine to intensify structural support in military, humanitarian, and economic fields, to make sure the war ends as soon as possible in Ukraine’s victory, to allow for democratic elections.