The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) pre-election delegation observed an overall free and competitive atmosphere in Ukraine in the run-up to the 17 January 2010 Presidential election. The situation with the freedom of the media improved significantly after the 2004 elections. The delegation notes the commitment and endeavors of journalists, although it recognises that the media works under heavy financial and business influences. In order to assist more efficiently the Ukrainian people to make a well-founded choice, politicians should have no role in setting the agenda for the media. Intimidation is, hopefully, a thing of the past. The Central Election Commission assured the delegation that voters’ lists are being improved although the delegation remains uncertain as to the state of progress in this area.
At the same time, the delegation is concerned over dwindling public confidence of an electorate whose high expectations of a rapid change had not been met. As a result, political cynicism is on the rise. The delegation is concerned about the strong interconnection between politics and financial flows. The political struggle is widely regarded as a struggle of personalities, ambitions and financial interests rather than a competition of political platforms and ideas. The delegation was upset by the information it received about negative campaigning by candidates; a particular source of concern was the use of hate-speech and anti-Semitic slurs. The delegation expects that such incidents are condemned by political players.
Despite repeated Council of Europe recommendations, Ukraine’s electoral legislation, although improved, is still not fully compatible with Council of Europe standards. The proposed July amendments to the relevant legislation marked a step backwards in some aspects of the electoral legislation.
Nonetheless, given the little time left, this delegation believes that, with true political will, the existing legislation, flawed as it is, could still create a functioning framework for this election. The delegation urges political parties in Ukraine to bring the electoral legislation in line with Council of Europe standards rapidly after the new President takes up Office and not only weeks before the next vote.
Ukraine needs stability and a solid public confidence in the electoral process. This requires that those who lose the race following a democratically conducted election accept the results whatever they are.
The Delegation was in Kyiv from 24 to 26 November 2009 at the invitation of Mr. Lytvyn, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, to assess the political situation in Ukraine in the run-up to the 17 January 2010 Presidential election.
Press release: PACE, 26 November 2009