Tuesday, November 02, 2010

More on Ukraine's local election...

Free and fair?

Predictably, Tymoshenko has cried foul over the election results, and one might feel that, whilst she most likely does have a case in some instances, that she'll be looking to take any crumbs of hard evidence to her advantage. Batkivshchyna are demanding recounts and even re-votes in some areas. If accusations can be proven with hard evidence, then fair enough, but that has to be considered a big 'if' if Ukraine's politicised courts are to be involved. Former president Yushchenko has in contrast soberly accepted the results for his Our Ukraine party.

Outisde reaction continues to err on the side of caution where criticism is involved. The Council of Europe has endorsed the elections as free, but has said that Ukraine's election law is faulty, and have offered to assist Ukraine in drafting a new one. That's all well and good but, assuming Ukraine takes their advice and makes a better law, we won't see it in action until the next round of local elections for these precints in five years time, and who knows what the landscape will be then? In the meantime, if these elections have produced unsatisfactory provision of local offcials, they now have five years to repent at leisure. That will seem rather soft to some.

The CIS countries have given the elections the thumbs up and little criticism has been heard from Russian monitors (although given that many of the equivalent officials in Russia are not even directly elected, you have to ask what wisdom they have to impart to Ukraine on the subject). An extremely interesting aspect to this election has been the situation in Crimea, where several pro Russian unity parties have complained of being marginalised by the Party of Regions, an odd twist to the more easterly direction of Ukraine's current politics. So for some 'pro-Russians' (it's actually quite a careless term), perhaps the democracy of the past five years wasn't so bad after all (?).

Domestically, the Central Election Commission shares the Council of Europe's view that the law on local elections needs to be changed but doesn't see grounds to doubt the results. The western-funded Committee of Voters of Ukraine says that long queues were the biggest problem and that violations were 'not systemic' (either that, or the manipulators have adopted a less conspicuous 'mix and match' approach to vote-rigging).

There has of course been serious criticism. US-funded NGO Opora in its monitoring of the elections has said that that there were simply too many violations for the elections to be considered fair. These could be dismissed as one organisation's take on the elections, but repeated crashes of the organisation's website just as the process of compiling evidence of violations was gathering pace, does appear suspicious, and rather raises the suspicion that there is indeed something to hide in some quarters. It is perhaps slightly reminiscent of the cyber attacks on Estonia during the 2007 war memorial row.

So make of it all what you will...

No comments: