After Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine, the international election observers point out a number of facts that obstructed the opposition parties’ chances of running successful election campaigns. “Considering the abuse of power, and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine,” said Walburga Habsburg Douglas, who led the OSCE election observation mission in the country, at a press conference Monday afternoon.
The preliminary findings from the international election observers describe how “the abuse of administrative resources, lack of transparency of campaign and party financing and lack of balanced media coverage” let to an election campaign without equal terms for the different parties. Most of the criticism focus on the developments in the country prior to the election day, with increased government pressure on independent media and civil society organizations as well as the imprisonment of two leading opposition politicians, Yulia Tymoshenko and Yuriy Lutsenko, which led to an irregular election campaign.
“A country that imprisons its political opponents, removes independent television from the air and harasses civil society is not an example of a country progressing in its democratic development,” said the U.S. Congressman David Dreier, who led the International Republican Institute’s delegation in the country.
The Central Election Commission faces criticism for its refusal to present the election results at the polling station level, which is a condition for comparing the official result with the results registered during the count. The commission is also criticised for routinely holding pre-session meetings behind closed doors, something that decreased the transparency of its work. In some regions, one could also observe the absence of a distinction between the state and the ruling party.
The British minister for Europe, David Lidington stated during the Tuesday that “Ukraine’s parliamentary elections were disappointing. Although voters were presented with a wide range of choices, International Election Observers found evidence that these choices were restricted through, for example, an unbalanced media environment, a lack of transparency in the way the final results were collated, and the absence of leading opposition candidates imprisoned as a result of unsoundly applied law.”
The President of the European People’s Party, Wilfred Martens, delivered the following statement during the Tuesday: “The conduct of the elections in Ukraine comes as no surprise for the international community. For the past two and a half years, President Yanukovich and his government have been very meticulous in unraveling the country’s hard-fought democratic gains from the Orange revolution: organising politically motivated trials in order to jail key opposition leaders like Yulia Tymoshenko, shutting out the independent press, and now, conducting elections in an untransparent and flawed manner.”
Martens did also state that “if the new Regions’ government will be sincere in pursuing Ukraine’s European integration, it must first release all political prisoners and abandon authoritarian practices. But under the current circumstances, the EU-Ukraine association agreement cannot and will not be ratified. In the meantime, the EPP will fully support the main opposition parties Baktivschina and UDAR and their fight against creeping authoritarianism.”
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