Supporting democratic progress in Ukraine.

IFES Ukraine

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems

IFES Ukraine Election Bulletin #91 (August 12 – 23, 2019)

CEC Publishes Final Election Results; First Verkhovna Rada Meeting Scheduled for August 29. On August 16, the Central Election Commission (CEC) published the final election result for Verkhovna Rada single-member constituency number 210 in the Chernihiv oblast. This completes CEC reporting for the July 2019 Rada elections.

Election results for the nationwide election constituency, in which 225 seats were distributed to political parties that met the five percent voter support threshold, were published on August 3. On August 7, results for 198 of the 199 single-member constituencies were published.
Under the Parliamentary Election Law, the CEC must establish final election results no later than August 5 and publish them five days later. The CEC met the deadline except for two District Election Commissions (DECs), in Pokrovsk and in Nizhyn. In both places, the delays were related to outcome of the majoritarian race.

In DEC no. 50 located in Pokrovsk, Donetsk oblast, the DEC did not establish the result of the single-member constituency vote and thus did not deliver the corresponding tabulation protocol to the CEC and in fact. In response to the inaction of DEC no. 50, the CEC requested the delivery of the ballot material and other sensitive documents from the DEC headquarters to Kyiv and assumed the responsibilities of DEC 50. Thus, the CEC rather than the DEC established the result of the single-mandate constituency no. 50.

The District Election Commission (DEC) 210 located in Nizhyn, Chernihiv oblast, was the last DEC to report their results for the vote in the single-member constituency to the CEC. The delay was caused by a decision of the Chernihiv Administrative Court that satisfied the complaint of one of the candidates claiming systematic violations of the single-member vote in one election precinct. Acting on the decision of the court, the CEC sent back the initial DEC tabulation protocol for correction. A higher-level court, on appeal, subsequently upheld the decision of the administrative court. The CEC received the corrected protocol on August 7, but also returned that protocol to the DEC for further correction for not meeting the legal requirements. The final tabulation protocol was submitted to and accepted by the CEC on August 9.

The Servant of the People political party won a solid majority of 254 seats in the Rada – 124 elected on the nationwide political party lists and 150 in single-member constituencies. This gives Servant of the People enough votes in the Rada to pass laws without the votes of other parties, but the new ruling party is 46 votes short of qualified majority of 300 votes required to amend the Constitution. Opposition Platform – for Life won 43 seats; Batkivshchyna – 26; European Solidarity – 25; and, Holos (Voice) – 20. Ten MPs were elected in single-member constituencies from political parties who did not win seats on party lists in the nationwide constituency: Opposition Bloc, Samopomich, Svoboda, Yedynyi Center, and Bila Tserkva – Together. Forty-six candidates won ran as self-nominated (independent) single-member candidates won a constituency seat; they can serve as independent MPs or join a parliamentary faction in the Rada. The official list of winners of single-member constituency races are published in regional media; an overview of officially elected party list MPs has been published in Holos Ukrayiny, as required by law.

The share of women’s representation in the Rada has increased to 20.28 percent. Eighty-six were elected – 59 on party lists and 27 in single-member constituencies.

Following the promulgation of the election results, the CEC has a 20-day window for registration of elected MPs, who by them must have terminated all activities deemed incompatible with an MP mandate. The MPs will be sworn in at the Rada’s first celebratory session on August 29 and the new convocation of parliament will have its first working session on September 3.

Once the new government is formed, the final gender composition of the ninth convocation of parliament will be known – some MPs are currently considered for governmental positions and will be replaced. If the MP in question was elected on the party list, the next candidate on the list moves up; if the candidate won a seat in a majoritarian constituency, by-elections for the seat will have to be held in that constituency.

IFES’ Post-Election Report on the 2019 Early Parliamentary Elections. On August 23, IFES published its Post-Election Report on the July Verkhovna Rada elections. The report is geared toward all national electoral stakeholders, including the new Rada, the CEC, the Constitutional Court and the National Police. Find a link to the report here.

This report represents IFES’ views on lessons learned from the parliamentary electoral process and provides concrete recommendations to improve the legal and administrative framework for future elections. It should be read in tandem with IFES’ “2019 Presidential Elections in Ukraine: Post-Election Report,” which can be accessed here. The post-election reports are informed by extensive analyses from IFES’ many years of providing on-the-ground support to democratic progress in Ukraine and from observation mission statements. For an overview of election observation preliminary findings and conclusions, see also IFES Ukraine Overview of Election Observation Mission Statements.

IFES’ latest Post-Election Report concludes that the 2019 early parliamentary elections represented an important milestone for consolidating democracy in Ukraine. While international and domestic observers generally evaluated election administration as consistent with democratic practice and in respect of fundamental freedoms, instances of fraud, malpractice, and manipulation through exploiting a weak legal framework were noted during the campaign period.

Some election participants took advantage of loopholes in the law and did not comply with campaign rules or political finance regulations. Media oversight and campaign finance were lacking and allowed shadow funding in the election campaign. Registration of “clone” candidates and misappropriation of well-known political parties’ names to disperse votes of prominent candidates and mislead voters contributed to an unlevel playing field.

All observers stated election day was, in general, professionally administered. The single-member constituency component of the parallel electoral system again proved prone to fraud with noted abuse of administrative resources, vote buying, and illegal campaigning. Counting and tabulating votes in some single-member constituencies resulted in two DECs, no 50 and no 210, unable or unwilling to establish a result of the vote in the respective single-member constituency.

It is critical that election stakeholders reflect on the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections to draw on lessons learned and consider election observer recommendations. To date, only a few existing recommendations have been addressed. The legal framework governing national and local elections requires significant review to meet international standards and best practices for democratic elections. Late passage of a new, unified election code by the outgoing Rada does not fully address Ukraine’s electoral flaws.

Conflicting language and provisions must be removed from the law, sanctions strengthened for misconduct and the highly centralized nature of election administration reconsidered. Ukrainian elections could be made more inclusive if lasting solutions are found to enfranchise voters, who currently must engage in cumbersome procedures for temporarily changing their place of voting without changing the electoral address. Elections should be more accessible to voters with disabilities and national minorities.

Election observers and stakeholders noted significant improvements, including better CEC and election management preparedness to combat cyberattacks on key election infrastructure; a competitive campaign environment respecting fundamental freedoms; minimizing instances of vote fraud; maintaining and protecting public order on election day; high-quality, widely-administered election commission training with IFES technical assistance; and, a significant increase in women’s representation in the new Rada to more than 20 percent.

The IFES Post-Election Report offers specific recommendations to improve democratic processes in Ukraine. They appear in bold in the text and are collated in an annex at the report’s conclusion.
Later this month, IFES, and Civil Network OPORA, will release a joint paper highlighting and summarizing recommendations for improving Ukraine’s electoral framework with a focus on nationwide local elections expected in October 2020.