About IFES Ukraine
Since 1994, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has played a key role in the emergence of democratic electoral processes and institutions in Ukraine. During this period, IFES has developed a reputation as a reliable source for impartial analysis and high-quality technical assistance in the fields of electoral and political finance reform, social inclusion and gender equality, election administration, civil society capacity building, civic education, and public opinion research. Currently, IFES is implementing the following projects in Ukraine: 1) the Ukraine Responsive and Accountable Politics Program (U-RAP), funded by the United States Agency for International Development, 2) Ensuring Meaningful Engagement through Reform for Gender Equality (EMERGE), funded by Global Affairs Canada, and 3) the Electoral and Legal Enhancements through Civic Engagement and Technical Assistance Program (ELECT), funded by UK aid.
Ukraine has experienced a tumultuous post-independence history. Ukraine’s 2014 Revolution of Dignity resulted in the ousting of President Yanukovych and a reorientation toward a pro-European Union path of development, prompting Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea, as well as the mobilization of Russian-led forces in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. The ongoing conflict has crippled the country’s economy and destabilized political life.
After presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014, which were largely commended by international and domestic observers, Ukraine initiated a number of important and demanding reforms. Ukraine began a national decentralization process, which included the amalgamation of local communities. Other positive developments include the adoption of a comprehensive political finance reform law in 2015 and the rejection of an unconstitutional referendum law in 2018. However, the electoral legal framework remains highly complex and contested, electoral reform has been slow to materialize, significant issues surrounding the representation of women and inclusion of minority populations remain, and the public is deeply dissatisfied with the current situation in the country. The October 2018 renewal of the Central Election Commission (CEC) provides an opportunity for continued headway. With parliamentary and presidential elections taking place in 2019, Ukraine’s immediate challenge is the extent to which it can safeguard its electoral democracy by undertaking and implementing critical electoral reforms and cybersecurity precautions, based on good practice and international standards.
IFES works to foster discussion to further electoral law and political finance reform, build the capacity of civil society to analyze and advocate on key election integrity issues, support electoral stakeholders in gender equality efforts, advocate for the political rights of historically excluded populations, and strengthen the capacity of election officials through technical assistance to the CEC. IFES’ support focuses on the process and content of reform by promoting inclusive dialogue among stakeholders and providing technical assistance in the development of legislation consistent with international standards. Dovetailing with these reform initiatives is support to the CEC’s efforts to strengthen transparency and oversight of political finance, counteract political corruption, and safeguard the cybersecurity of the electoral process. IFES has provided assistance to the drafting of key reform legislation, including Ukraine’s 2015 political finance reform law – one of Europe’s most progressive political finance frameworks.
Inclusion and gender equality are mainstreamed throughout IFES’ programming to promote structural reforms that will benefit all citizens of Ukraine. In addition to policy analysis, capacity building, and work with electoral management, IFES partners with Ukrainian civil society organizations to develop and promote measures that address women’s underrepresentation in Ukrainian politics and inclusion of minority populations in the electoral and political process.
IFES is a leader in the field of public opinion research in Ukraine. Since 1994, IFES has conducted 29 nationwide public opinion surveys in the country, examining socio-political issues, and attitudes toward elections and democracy, among other topics. Data from these surveys have enabled IFES to focus its technical assistance and provide valuable and up-to-date information and analysis.