Supporting democratic progress in Ukraine.

IFES Ukraine

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems

IFES Ukraine Election Bulletin #90 (July 27 – August 11, 2019)

CEC Reports Final Results of July 21 Parliamentary Elections. The final results from the July 21 parliamentary election provide the Servant of the People political party with a comfortable majority in the new parliament with 254 MPs. These final results include both the national proportional constituency and the single member constituencies (SMC) of the July parliamentary election, according to the Central Election Commission.

The parliamentary majority allows Servant of the People to approve legislation without assistance from another party: 226 votes are required. Servant of the People is 46 votes short of a 300 MP constitutional majority that would allow them to make changes to the constitution.

Including both party lists and SMCs, the Opposition Platform For Life won 43 seats in the election; Batkivshchyna won 26; European Solidarity won 25; and, Holos won 20. Forty-six self-nominated candidates, who won in single member constituencies, may continue on as independents or establish or join a group in the new Rada. The Opposition Bloc elected six MPs in single member constituencies. Samopomich, Svoboda, Yedynyi Tsentr and Bila Tserkva each captured one single member constituency seat.

For the proportional nationwide constituency, five political parties cleared the five percent support threshold in the national proportional vote. President Zelenskyy’s Servant of the People Party won 43.16 percent of the vote and 124 seats; the Opposition Platform For Life won 13.05 percent and 37 seats; former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party finished third in the proportional vote with 8.18 percent and 24 seats; followed by former President Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity Party with 8.10 percent and 23 seats; and, the Holos Party, led by rock star and former MP Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, with 5.82 percent of the vote and 17 seats. The other 17 parties on the national proportional ballot did not surpass the five percent support threshold and will not be represented in the new Rada from their party lists (four of these parties won a seat through an SMC). The number of invalid national proportional ballots was .99 percent of all votes cast.

In the 199 single member constituency electoral contests, Servant of the People won 130 seats; 46 seats were won by unaffiliated or independent candidates; Opposition Platform For Life won six seats; Holos won three seats; European Solidarity won two seats; Batkivshchyna won two seats; and Samopomych, Svoboda, Yedinyi Tsentr and Bila Tserkva Together each won one seat.

A significant result from the July 21 elections is the increased representation of women in the Rada. Just over 20 percent of the new parliament will be women MPs. Eighty-six women were elected to the Rada: 59 from the national proportional lists and 27 from single member constituencies. This is a dramatic increase from the previous 12.3 percent of women elected in 2014, and the highest proportion of women in parliament in Ukraine’s democratic history. It does still, however, fall short of international targets of 30 percent, and Council of Europe’s target of 40 percent.

According to election observation mission statements, the July Rada elections were conducted in line with international standards for democratic elections and respected fundamental freedoms. The CEC was complimented for well-administered elections despite time constraints associated with early balloting and flaws in the legal framework. Election day itself was assessed as positive; however, there were isolated reported cases of administrative and electoral irregularities, according to election observation missions.

The parliamentary campaign was not evaluated as positively as election day. International election observation missions noted some electoral contestants engaged in vote-buying, abused incumbency and generally exploited loopholes in the election legal framework to their advantage. Campaign finance oversight was largely ineffective and there were reported instances of misusing political funding. According to international election observation missions, media coverage was dictated by business interests.

For more information on international election observation of the July Verkhovna Rada elections, please review the IFES Ukraine Overview of Election Observation Mission Statements at this link.

On August 3, the nationwide election constituency results covering 225 Rada seats were published by the CEC. On August 7, the CEC almost finalized its reporting of the parliamentary election by publishing results from all the SMCs except for District 210 in the Chernihiv Oblast, for which the results have not been yet officially announced due to the need for corrections to results protocols and legal challenges.

Delays in finalizing election results in single member constituency 210 were caused by the District Election Commission’s (DEC) correction to a tabulation protocol in that constituency. The initial protocol failed to comply with the Parliamentary Election Law. A corrected DEC protocol was sent to the CEC on August 7; however, this corrected protocol was again inconsistent with legal requirements, resulting in further amendments to the DEC tabulation protocol for single member constituency 210. The final protocol has yet to be submitted to the CEC and accepted by the commission.

Under the Parliamentary Election Law, the CEC must establish final election results no later than August 5 and promulgate, or publish, these results five days later. The CEC respected legal deadlines for establishment and promulgation of election results in all cases except for single member constituency 50 in Donetsk Oblast and the previously-mentioned 210 in Chernihiv Oblast. In both cases, delays were caused by the DECs’ failure to deliver tabulation protocols in time to the CEC. In single member constituency 50, the DEC failed to establish any election results. The CEC was forced to bring these ballots and other sensitive documents from Pokrovsk, the DEC’s location, to Kyiv and establish vote tabulation protocols results for that constituency.

The CEC reported voter turnout at 49.84 percent after polls closed, based on preliminary reports received just after 8:00 p.m. on election day from all 199 DECs and most of the 102 polling stations abroad. Initial protocols presented to the CEC were those from the national proportional component of the elections. DEC protocols with results from single member constituency member races were delayed from several constituencies, primarily due to electoral complaints and the subsequent time-consuming recounts.

Public Funding for Eligible Political Parties. The 2015 Political Finance Reform Law introduced significant changes to the political party and campaign finance system in Ukraine, including two types of public funding for political parties that contest parliamentary elections: One, annual public funding for statutory activities (routine operational tasks) of political parties that receive no less than two percent of valid votes and, two, reimbursing election campaign expenditures from the state budget to parties whose electoral lists receive no less than five percent of the vote.

Annual public funding distributed among eligible political parties is calculated according to the following formula: two percent of the minimum monthly cost of living as of January in the election year multiplied by the total number of voters who participated in the election. In 2020, this number will amount to UAH 565 million, or approximately $21.7 million. Ninety percent of this amount will be distributed proportionally among all 11 eligible political parties that received at least two percent of votes cast in the July 21 Rada elections. The remaining 10 percent will be divided equally between parties that ensured the election of at least 30 percent women of the total number of MPs elected from their party. Two parties, European Solidarity and Holos, complied with this gender requirement according to the recent parliamentary election results.

According to final Rada election results, five political parties cleared the five percent voter support threshold and an additional six parties passed the two percent threshold which ensures their eligibility for public funding. Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party (4.01 percent support); the Syla i Chest (Strength and Honor) Party, affiliated with former intelligence operative Ihor Smeshko (3.82 percent support); the Opposition Bloc (3.03 percent support); the Ukrainian Strategy Party, led by outgoing Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman (2.41 percent support); Sharii’s Party (2.23 percent support); and, Svoboda (2.15 percent support).

Public money to be distributed in 2020 to the 11 qualifying political parties is presented in the table below:

Political party Public funding
(in UAH million) in 2020
Public funding
(in $ million) in 2020
Servant of the People 228.91 8.80
European Solidarity* 71.23 2.74
Opposition Platform For Life 69.21 2.66
Holos* 59.14 2.27
Batkivshchyna 43.38 1.67
Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party 21.27 0.82
Strength and Honor 20.26 0.78
Opposition Bloc 16.07 0.62
Groysman Ukrainian Strategy 12.78 0.49
Shariy Party 11.83 0.46
Svoboda 11.40 0.44

*Including funds for ensuring election of at least 30 percent women MPs

This data is consistent with an article published by IFES partner Centre UA on July 22 that highlights the model public funding allocation for 11 qualifying parties based on CEC preliminary results.

Political parties clearing the five percent voter threshold in the nationwide constituency are also eligible for reimbursement of their campaign expenses. In the parliamentary elections, five political parties qualified. The 2015 Political Finance Reform Law provides that reimbursement is equal to expenditures for campaign activities; but, this amount cannot be larger than the maximum size of a party campaign fund, which is currently set at UAH 375 million, or about $14.4 million; as five parties can claim up to this maximum amount, the total amount of reimbursement could add up to a total of UAH 1.88 billion, approximately $72.2 million. Reimbursement costs will be known only after parties publish their final financial reports, which were due by August 5.

For more information on public funding after the 2019 parliamentary elections please review IFES Ukraine comment.

NAPC Allocates Public Money to Six Political Parties in Third Quarter. The National Agency for the Prevention of Corruption (NAPC) allocated public money for statutory activities of political parties in 2019’s third quarter. The decision is based on results of the 2014 Verkhovna Rada elections, when six political parties passed the five percent voter support threshold to qualify for annual public funding.
According to the NAPC website, the following six parties will receive public money:

  • People’s Front – UAH 36,363,350;
  • European Solidarity – UAH 35,841,525;
  • Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party – UAH 12,231,425;
  • Batkivshchyna Party – UAH 9,329,47;
  • Samopomich Party – UAH 32,146,600, of which UAH 14,142,012 is the party’s bonus for complying with the gender quota on its national proportional list; and,
  • The Opposition Bloc – UAH 15,489,725.

The NAPC’s decision renewed annual public funding for statutory activities of the Opposition Bloc Party, but only for the second and third quarters of 2019. Public money had been suspended to the party following its split. The Opposition Bloc addressed and resolved all questions for suspending its 2019 second quarter public funding.

Electoral Technology and E-Voting in Ukrainian Elections. On July 29, the President’s Office published Presidential Decree Number 558/2019 designed to develop electoral digitalization in Ukraine. The decree suggests introducing electronic voting in elections and referenda.

On August 5, Servant of the People MPs and presidential adviser Mykhailo Fedorov noted the president’s team is working on “The Vote” project. The project is a survey tool identifying opinions and attitudes towards policy issues. The online platform of “The Vote” project will, according to Mr. Fedorov in comments to Liga.Net, gradually expand and enable voters to vote electronically in the 2024 presidential election.

While increased use of new technology is a welcome development and creates opportunities for facilitating transparency, integrity, credibility and efficiency of democratic processes and institutions, new technology also creates challenges for securing elections that should be carefully considered.

Introduction of e-voting in Ukraine will require overcoming weaknesses in the current election environment such as absence of countrywide internet coverage, lack of capacity among some voters, a general lack of trust in “new” systems, no gateways between various state registers, significant cyber threats stemming from the hybrid war with Russia and voter distrust of the CEC and other government institutions. Even if these significant weaknesses are overcome over time, a shift to e-voting will require development of a new legal framework, installation, testing, auditing and comprehensive voter awareness campaigns.

Introducing new technology, such as internet voting, should be preceded by assessments of potential tradeoffs and impact on cost, transparency, efficiency, security, integrity, credibility, legitimacy and trust.

It is recommended that all efforts to digitalize the country’s electoral process (including internet voting) are carefully considered through a feasibility study that incorporates international-standard research and national context. This is in line with European good practice and should precede testing and subsequent rollout.

In pursuit of European standards and good practice, IFES is committed to contributing to continued evolution of technology in electoral processes through an evidence-based approach that safeguards principles of trust, security and transparency.

For more information on electoral technology and internet voting in Ukraine, view IFES Ukraine comment.

Civil Society Advocates Enfranchising Internally Displaced Persons. On July 30, IFES partner Group of Influence published a joint statement in which civil society leaders called on President Zelenskyy to enfranchise internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the elections. Seventy-five civil society organizations signed the document, emphasizing the need to initiate dialogue on identifying possible ways to protect IDP and labor migrant voting rights.

The statement noted that only one percent out of the 4.5 million Ukrainian voters who are listed with a permanent voting address in the temporarily occupied territories had an opportunity to exercise their voting rights in the July 21 Verkhovna Rada elections. Civil society leaders emphasized that “in local elections IDPs are totally disenfranchised” and urged action before the next local polls. Signatory organizations reinforced the need to adopt Draft Law Number 6240 on the “Election Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Other Internally Mobile Groups of Citizens”.

To read the statement please follow the link.

33 MPs Who Used Subsidies for Campaigning Were Elected to the Rada. IFES partner Civil Network OPORA has been monitoring misuse of state resources in the recent parliamentary election campaign. On July 30, it published an article commenting on the use of state subsidies for campaign purposes by some MPs in their parliamentary reelection campaigns.

From June 2018 to July 2019, Civil Network OPORA’s observers recorded 2,724 cases of MPs using government subsidies for self-promotion. Some 147 MPs running in single member constituencies and 27 MPs on national proportional party lists used budget resources for media and campaign purposes. Thirty-three of those MPs were reelected to the Rada. Three of them were in the top 12 of MPs who used government subsidies to campaign. They are Ihor Huz in single member constituency 19; Serhii Rudyk in single member constituency 198; and, Anton Yatsenko in single member constituency 200.
According to Civil Network OPORA, misuse of budget resources for campaign purposes by candidates and parties in a democratic election is a negative practice for a variety of reasons:

  • Using government money for indirect early campaigning is a form of misusing administrative resources from the state budget;
  • Using government funds undermines a level playing field by providing significant advantage to those MPs who have access to public resources over those who do not, and, consequently, increases their chances to win an election;
  • MPs who present budget spending as accomplishments when purchasing equipment encroach on local government authority; and,
  • Government subsidies should be earmarked for spending priorities that directly benefit the public.

Civil Network OPORA insists that distribution of government subsidies should be transparent and uniform. To make government funds allocation impartial and politically neutral, the new government should introduce clear mechanisms and criteria for priority-based distribution of budget resources.