20 th SESSION

CG(20)7

2 March 2011

Local elections in Ukraine (31 October 2010)

Bureau of the Congress

Rapporteur: Nigel MERMAGEN, United Kingdom (L, ILDG)1

A. Draft resolution 2
B. Draft recommendation 2
C. Explanatory memorandum 4

Summary

Following the official invitation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to observe the local elections on 31 October 2010, the Congress appointed an observer delegation, headed by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (R, Austria, SOC), Member and Vice-President of the State Parliament of Salzburg. Councillor Nigel Mermagen (L, UK, ILDG) was appointed Rapporteur. The delegation was composed of fifteen members of the Congress and four members of the EU Committee of the Regions, assisted by four members of the Congress secretariat.

The delegation concluded, after pre-election and actual election observation missions, that local elections in Ukraine were generally conducted in a calm and orderly manner. It also noted with satisfaction that for the first time, local elections were held separately from parliamentary ones, as requested in the past by the Congress.

No indications of systematic fraud were brought to the attention of the delegation but there was evidence of inconsistencies. The principal matter of concern – also shared by other international and domestic observers – was a newly adopted local election law which created politically unbalanced electoral commissions, discretionary registration of candidates and overly complicated voting and counting procedures.

Considering the findings of its missions, the Congress delegation assessed that overall, the local elections of 31 October 2010 in Ukraine met neither the standards that it wished to see, nor the standards set by the presidential elections in January and February 2010. Consequently, the Congress delegation calls on responsible Ukrainian authorities to continue dialogue with the Council of Europe, particularly the Venice Commission, and to pursue thoroughly the reform aiming at adopting a unified electoral code for Ukraine. In parallel, the local self-government reform project should be further enhanced. The Congress delegation encourages President Yanukovych to endorse these policies.

A. DRAFT RESOLUTION

1. Free and fair elections, at national but also at territorial level, constitute an integral part of democratic processes in Council of Europe member states.

2. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities welcomes that, since its accession to the Council of Europe in 1995, Ukraine has committed herself to strengthening local and regional democracy.

3. It also acknowledges the efforts of Ukraine in respect of its ongoing reform process of democratic structures, electoral legislation and local self-government.

4. The Congress takes note of the Draft Recommendation regarding the findings of the mission to observe the local elections in Ukraine of 31 October 2010.

5. Given the above, and in conformity with its Resolution 306(2010) – on strategy and rules for the observation of local and regional elections, the Congress,

a. mandates its Monitoring Committee to take note of this Draft Recommendation and to take it into account during the foreseen assessment of the progress made by the country in honouring her commitments to the European Charter of Local Self-Government ;

b. decides to examine, in co-ordination with other Council of Europe bodies, ways of supporting Ukraine in devising and implementing the necessary reforms for a tangible improvement of local and regional democracy.

B. DRAFT RECOMMENDATION

1. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe refers to:

a. the Committee of Ministers’ Statutory Resolution (2000)1 on the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe;

b. the principles laid down in the European Charter of Local Self-Government (ECLSG) which was ratified by Ukraine on 11 September 1997.

2. The Congress points to the importance of genuinely democratic elections and to its specific mandate and role in the observation of local and regional elections in Council of Europe member countries.

3. It stresses that the Congress observes elections only upon invitation by the countries. Just as the monitoring process of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, election observation missions are conceived as co-operation activities.

4. It expresses its will and availability to participate in activities aimed at strengthening local democracy as well as electoral processes in Ukraine.

5. The Congress welcomes the willingness of the Ukrainian authorities to receive international observers. However, it regrets that for these local elections the official invitations to international observers were sent only four weeks before election day which created difficulties in the preparations for the observation missions.

6. The Congress notes with satisfaction that, for the first time, local elections were held separately from parliamentary ones as recommended by Congress Recommendation 192 (2006).

7. It also notes with satisfaction that, in general, the polling process was conducted in a calm and orderly manner.

8. The Congress welcomes the improvements observed in regard to the certification of voters’ lists in comparison to previous elections.

9. However, the Congress regrets to note that shortcomings remain in respect of the legal framework concerning local electoral processes in Ukraine:

a. a new law on local elections (the law on Elections of Members of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Local Councils and Village, Settlement, City Mayors) came into force only three months before the elections and was amended on 30 August 2010, only two months prior to the elections;

b. this new law made changes, in particular, to: party registration requirements; the composition of electoral commissions; the possibility of independent candidatures; as well as electoral timelines. Provisions of this law had serious impacts on the quality of conduct of local elections in Ukraine. During its meetings and visits the Congress delegation was also informed of problems that some candidates had faced in registering to run in the elections as well as allegations of ‘cloning’ of opposition party branches;

10. The delegation also regretted that, due to the rushed time frame in which the local elections took place, there were shortcomings in the preparation for the elections. Notably insufficient training for electoral commission members which contributed to organisational problems and procedural violations, as well as the vagueness of the law and the number and size of ballot papers which led to an overlong complicated election count.

11. Taking into account the previous comments, the Congress invites the Ukrainian authorities to take all necessary steps:

a. to submit the projected unified Electoral Code or any other new specific electoral legislation on local and regional elections in Ukraine to the Council of Europe Venice Commission for opinion, prior to adoption by the Parliament;

b. to refrain from adopting new or changing existing electoral provisions within one year of elections, in compliance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission.

In the new electoral provisions, the following concerns, which were observed during the local elections of 31 October 2010, should be addressed:

    - clearer explanations on how posts in electoral commissions are appointed;

    - a more balanced political representation in electoral commissions at all levels;

    - reconsideration of the electoral timetable to allow time for campaigning on the issues and training for electoral commissions;

    - allowing independent candidates to run in local elections, in particular, as mayoral candidates;

    - restriction of home voting to cases where it is absolutely necessary and requiring supporting documentation;

    - systematic and standardised training programme for all members of electoral commissions coordinated by the Central Election Commission;

    - a less time consuming counting procedure;

    - that the electoral complaint and appeal system be brought into compliance with the recognised European standards;

    - tighter control of the ballot design and printing process and that the order on ballot papers is decided by the drawing of lots;

c. to send invitations to international election observers as soon as possible, after the date of elections has been decided;

d. to ensure a centralised official publication of election results within a reasonable time frame;

e. to reconsider the location of some of the polling stations because of their small size and difficult accessibility, in particular for voters with physical disabilities;

f. to ensure that – in parallel with the electoral reform process – a substantial reform of local self-government structures will be accomplished, according to the principles of the Congress European Charter of Local Self-Government;

g. in respect of the different ongoing reform projects in Ukraine (constitutional, electoral, local and regional democracy), to strive for a wide political consensus and, for a transparent and participatory process involving civil society;

h. to ensure that journalistic freedoms and media pluralism are protected.

C. EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

1. Following the official invitation from the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine to observe the local elections on Sunday 31 October 2010, the Bureau of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities responded positively. Regrettably, the invitation was received by the Congress on 27 September 2010, allowing only four weeks to prepare.

2. The Congress delegation was headed by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (R, Austria, SOC) and was composed of fifteen members of the Congress, four members of the Committee of the Regions of the European Union and four members of the Congress secretariat. Nigel Mermagen (L, United Kingdom, ILDG) was appointed Rapporteur.

3. There was a pre-election visit to Kyiv by four members of the Congress and two members of the secretariat on 11 and 12 October. The full delegation travelled to Kyiv for meetings on 29 October before being deployed throughout Ukraine for further local meetings on 30 October and the actual observation of elections on 31 October. A press conference was held by the Head of Delegation, Rapporteur and the Speaker for the Committee of the Regions in Kyiv on 1 November.

4. The Congress wishes to express its thanks to Mr Ake Peterson, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and his colleagues in the Council of Europe office in Kyiv, for their valuable assistance.

II. Pre-election mission

5. A pre-election delegation of the Congress visited Ukraine on 11 and 12 October 2010 to assess the political situation in the country prior to the local elections of 31 October. The aim of the mission was to get a general idea on the state of affairs during the electoral campaign and to obtain more specific information in respect of the new law on local elections, territorial democracy, political pluralism, freedom of expression and the media in Ukraine.

6. The delegation was composed of four Congress members: Mr Michel Guégan (France, NR), Congress country Rapporteur for Ukraine, Mr Nigel Mermagen (United Kingdom, ILDG), Mrs Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC), and Mr Emin Yeritsyan (Armenia, EPP/DC). Two members of the Congress secretariat accompanied the pre-election delegation.

7. They met with representatives of the Government, the Parliament and territorial bodies, the Central Election Commission (CEC), members of the diplomatic community in Kyiv, with party representatives, including members of the opposition, with NGOs and the media. Also, an exchange of views with OSCE Ambassador in Kyiv, Mr Lubomir Kopaj, was arranged. The detailed programme of this mission is provided in appendix I.

8. The concerns that were raised in these meetings stemmed mainly from the recently adopted law on local elections,2 which allowed for a dominant share of positions in Territorial (TECs) and Precinct Elections Commissions (PECs) to go to the ruling coalition parties. The new law also reduced the quorum necessary for decision making in electoral commissions to three (Commissions could have between 10 and 24 members) and did not allow political blocks and political parties of less than a year old or independent candidates to run for election.

9. The delegation’s attention was drawn to the problems that some candidates had faced in registering and the resistance of some TECs to implement court judgements with regard to registering candidates. There were also allegations of ‘cloning’ of opposition party branches, although in some cases this arose from genuine splits within those parties. Finally the delegation heard a substantial number of allegations that potential candidates had been induced to withdraw from the elections by threats that their jobs and livelihood would suffer if they didn’t do so.

10. The general election atmosphere was described by Congress interlocutors as one of mistrust. A survey carried out by the Ukrainian NGO “OPORA” showed that 44 percent of the population expected manipulation of the local election results. This was confirmed by the tone and the content of many of the pre-election meetings.

III. Election observation mission

11. The actual election observation mission of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities was carried out from 29 October to 2 November 2010.

12. In the days preceding the elections, the delegation met with Mr Mykova Azarov, Prime-Minister of Ukraine, Mr Volodymyr Lytvyn, Chairman of the Parliament of Ukraine, and with the Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission (CEC), Mr Andrij Magera. In addition, the delegation held talks with representatives of the government and opposition political parties, with representatives from ODHIR and international and national NGOs and with media representatives. A press conference concluded the programme on 1 November 2010.

13. On Saturday, 30 October, the Congress delegation was divided into 11 teams and deployed to eight different regions in Ukraine (Kyiv Oblast, Cherkasy, Chernihiv, Odessa, Kharkiv, Lviv, Chernivitsi and in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea). In each of these regions the different teams held further in-depth meetings with local representatives of administrations, regional parties and regional NGO branches.

14. The teams observed the local elections in these regions on the following day, on Sunday 31 October.

15. The Congress wishes to thank all those who met the delegation for the useful information provided and for the open and constructive discussions. The programmes can be found in the appendix I.

16. The delegation was composed of the following members:

Congress members:

Mrs Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM Austria (R, SOC), (Head of the Delegation)

Mr Nigel MERMAGEN United Kingdom (L, ILDG) (Rapporteur)

Mrs Hande Özsan BOZATLI, Turkey (R, EPP/CD)

Mr Devrim CUKUR, Turkey (R,SOC)

Mrs Dusica DAVIDOVIC, Serbia (R, NR)
Mr Henry FERAL, France (L, PPE/DC-EPP/CD)

Mr Volkram GEBEL, Germany (L, EPP/CD)
Mr Gintautas GEGUZINSKAS, Lithuania (R, EPP/CD)

Mrs Jon HERMANS-VLOEDBELD, the Netherlands (L, ILDG)

Mr Hannu KEMPPAINEN, Finland (L, ILDG)

Mr Günther KRUG, Germany (R, SOC)

Mr Francis LEC, France (L, SOC)

Mr Vladimir NOVIKOV, Russian Federation (L, NR)
Mr Petru Radu PAUN JURA, Romania, (L, ILDG)
Mr Emin YERITSYAN, Armenia (L, EPP/CD)

Committee of the Regions members:

Mr Joseph CORDINA, Malta (PES)

Mrs Doreen HUDDART, United Kingdom (ALDE)

Mr Teet KALLASVEE, Estonia (EPP)
Mr Brian MEANEY, Ireland (EA)

Congress secretariat:

Mrs Antonella CAGNOLATi, Director

Mrs Renate ZIKMUND, Head of the Division of Communication, International Relations and Election Observation

Mrs Nichola HOWSON, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission

Mrs Pauline CADÉAC, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission

IV. The historical and socio-political background

17. On 26 December 2004, Viktor Yushchenko won the repeat run-off presidential election by a margin of eight per cent against Victor Yanukovych - and the “Orange Revolution" went down in history. The very different results of the election in the western and eastern part of Ukraine are, in a way, emblematic and characterise the country historically, politically, socially and culturally.

18. Ukrainian identity can be, roughly speaking, determined by three reference lines:

    - Russian-Ukrainian relations (17 % of the population are Russians, approx. 4.5 million Ukrainians call Russian their mother tongue);

    - the Polish factor (plays nowadays more a historical role, neighbourly relations are quite good);

    - the European factor (notably the intermediate position of the country between east and west).

19. According to political analysts, also the campaigns for the local elections of 31 October 2010 featured, in principle, the two camps (the western freedoms and human rights-based model and the eastern model of a reformed Soviet system).

20. Geographically speaking, the structure of Ukraine distinguishes five areas:

    - the west (Lviv, Ternopil, Chernivtsy etc.) with a Ukrainian-speaking population of 90 percent;

    - central Ukraine (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy etc.), approx. 82 percent Ukrainians and 17 percent Russians;

    - the districts of eastern Ukraine (Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, etc.), the ratio between Ukrainian and Russian population is almost balanced, it gives a concise Russian majority (52%) and a Ukrainian minority (47%); Donetsk and Lugansk are the only two predominantly Russian areas within Ukraine, with the exception of the Crimea;

    - the Crimean peninsula is composed of two thirds of Russian-speaking people, the Crimean Tatars make up around 12 percent of its population; administratively, the Crimea has the special status of an autonomous region;

    - A good part of the historical “New Russia" Empire area is located in the south, including the main cities Odessa, Mykolayiv and Kherson.

21. Historically, the fragmentation of Ukraine is similarly complex:

    - Western Ukraine with the capital city Lviv: since the partitions of Poland (late 18th century) belonging to the Hapsburg Empire, eastern part of the former crown land of Galicia-Lodomeria;

    - Bukovina with its capital Chernivtsy: for some time also belonging to the Hapsburg Empire, then a separate crown land;

    - Carpathian Ukraine: also part of the Hapsburg Empire (under the Hungarian Crown of St. Stephen);

    - left bank Ukraine (river Dnipr): the former territory – upholding autonomy in the Russian Empire until 1775 – of the Dnipr Cossacks;

    - “New Russia”, including the Crimean peninsula: since the end of the 18th century colonised by Russia;

    - Right bank Ukraine (river Dnipr): long time under Polish rule, religiously, linguistically and culturally under Polish influence.

22. This complicated, historically established regional structure of Ukraine3 helps to understand why a consensus between West and East is not easy to achieve, especially since independence in 1991. Analysts believe that the Orange Revolution of 2004 has left an even deeper rift in Ukraine, with one half facing towards closer European integration and the other looking to Russia. In any case, the country has been left with two competing centers of power, each working against the other.

23. For Victor Yanukovych (Party of Regions) the presidential elections of 17 January and 7 February 2010 marked the climax of his political comeback. He was declared the winner of the second round of voting, with a 3.48% lead over Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko (Fatherland Party/Batkivshchyna). He overcame the disgrace of the 2004/05 presidential defeat and retained the leadership of the Party of the Regions, leading it back into power as Prime Minister in 2006-2007. He narrowly lost the 2007 parliamentary elections, but benefited from discord between President Victor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko and went on to capitalise on discontent over the government's apparent failure to cope with the global economic and financial crisis after 2008.

24. Against the background of a divided public opinion in Ukraine about the right future track, disappointment over endless partisan feuding and slow economic progress in the country, the local elections of 31 October 2010 constituted a first test for the newly elected President.

V. Territorial organisation and local self government

25. At its accession to the Council of Europe on 9 November 1995, Ukraine undertook a number of obligations which appear in Opinion No. 190(1995) of the Parliamentary Assembly, in order to implement Article 3 of the Council of Europe Statute, in particular concerning the development of local and regional democracy. Ukraine has ratified important Council of Europe texts such as the European Charter of Local Self-Government, the Congress core legal instrument, or the Madrid Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities and Authorities. The entire Charter was ratified by the Ukrainian Parliament on 15 July 1997.

26. The international expert opinion that Ukraine is today facing an urgent need to implement large scale local self-government and administrative-territorial reforms is shared by many stakeholders and political forces. Not least by succeeding in strengthening local and regional democracy, Ukraine should be able to pursue a policy of deeper European integration. In this context, Ukraine has been taking steps in respect of a decentralisation reform which can be viewed as a part of a wider public administration reform. In particular, this implies the transfer of wider responsibilities, competences and resources from central authorities to the local self-government authorities, according to the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government.

27. The Congress of Local and Regional Authorities monitors through regular missions the state of local and regional democracy in Council of Europe member states. The last Congress monitoring missions to Ukraine date back to 2001, where concern was expressed about the worsening of democracy and the rule of law at local and regional level. The Congress also regretted then, that in the context of a centralised public administration, some political forces in Ukraine were still opposed to any reform involving decentralisation of public powers on the basis of the subsidiarity principle. According to the Report of 2001, laws and provisions regarding local and regional self-government were often unclear and badly implemented.

28. An expert report on the current state of implementation of the Charter in Ukraine (prepared as part of the Council of Europe Programme “Strengthening Local Democracy and Support for Local Government Reforms in Ukraine”) concluded in July 2010 that most of the provision of the European Charter of Local Self-Government were still not being implemented.4 In addition, according to Council of Europe experts, a medium-term roadmap of local self-government reform would be of prime importance and should aim at several objectives, notably: strengthening local and regional democracy, ensuring adequate resources for local self-government bodies at all levels, improvement of the territorial organisation of powers, strengthening of local self government bodies and its officials and improving efficiency of housing and communal services delivered to citizens.

29. Unfortunately, the lack of an officially adopted roadmap remains the main obstacle, not only for the implementation of the previously mentioned Council of Europe programme – but also for the implementation of the reform as such. Overall, financial weakness is mentioned as the major impediment to the further development of local self-government in Ukraine. In addition to imbalances in revenue allocation, the level of own resources (around 20% of total local revenues) and especially local taxation (2.5%) is low and resources are described to be increasingly unequal between budgets, along with increasing regional disparities.

VI. Legal framework, electoral rules and administration

30. The presidential elections of 17 January and 7 February 2010 resulted in significant changes for the political landscape of Ukraine. The Party of Regions became the strongest party in the majority coalition – a new government was formed and is chaired by Mykola Azarov. During President Yanukovich’s efforts to consolidate the divided political scene, a most important step was taken on 1 October 2010 by the Constitutional Court, which cancelled the constitutional reform of 2004, thus returning to the Constitution adopted in 1996 – and thereby reintroducing the political system of a presidential democracy.

31. The Verkhovna Rada in February 2010 voted to postpone the local and regional elections initially scheduled for May 2010. These delayed elections were eventually held on 31 October 2010 under a new electoral law that could be introduced in the meantime.

32. This new law on local elections (the law on Elections of Members of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Local Councils and Village, Settlement, city Mayors) came into force on 31 July 2010 and was amended 30 August 2010, only two months before the elections. This goes directly against the Venice Commission’s Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters5 according to which the ‘fundamentals of electoral law should not be open to amendment less than one year before an election.’

33. Under the newly voted local election law, the Central Election Commission (CEC) created 670 Territorial Election Commissions (TECs), two city commissions (Kyiv and Sevastopol), 24 regional commissions, 474 district commissions (and four Sevastopol district commissions) and 166 municipal commissions. TECs consisted of 9 to 18 members with up to 15 of them from parties in Parliament and three from parties not in Parliament, chosen by the CEC through the drawing of lots. The CEC set up precinct level commissions (PECs) which coordinated the work of over 32,000 polling stations.

34. It was widely observed that the ruling parties had a large and disproportionate representation in the TECs and PECs as well as holding the majority of executive posts (Chair, Co-Chair and Secretary to the Committee). This fuelled doubts about the impartiality of the electoral commissions. The new law required mayoral candidates to be nominated by city branches of political parties, thus eliminating the possibility of self-nomination for city mayors. Candidates for heads of villages were nominated by parties or self-nominated. The law also decreased from 90 to 50 days the official electoral period and shortened the submission and consideration of election related complaints by commissions and courts.

35. On 1 July 2010, the Verhovna Rada decided to hold the local elections on 31 October 2010. The Verhovna Rada of the Crimea took the same decision on 4 August 2010. The election campaign started on 11 September 2010. Roughly 34 million voters were called on 31 October 2010 to elect members of district, regional, village, settlement and city councils as well as the mayors. Under the Constitution of Ukraine, the term of office of the heads of villages and towns is four years. Amongst the 183 parties currently registered in Ukraine, approximately 100 took part in the local elections.

36. In 2006, Ukraine had introduced proportional representation for the local council elections. The system has been strongly criticised due to different circumstances. By the new law adopted in June 2010 a legislative mixture – between proportional representation (party list) and majority system in single mandate constituencies – was introduced for the first time in respect of municipal elections in Ukraine. Deputies to the Crimean Supreme Council and regional, district and city councils were elected according to the mixed system – village councils under the majority system. According to experts, amongst them the member of the Venice Commission Marina Stawnijtschuk, this new law constituted a step back in Ukraine’s democratic development. Andrij Magera, Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine, qualified it in a meeting with members of the Congress delegation as the worst law in Ukraine’s history.

VII. Election campaign and media coverage

37. The increasing limitation on press freedom and pluralism in Ukraine is cause for regret. In 2010 Ukraine fell 41 places on the press freedom list compiled by “Reporters without Borders”6. The Congress delegation heard reports about attacks against journalists and photographers where police have refused to investigate. The disappearance of Vasyl Klymentyev, Chief Editor of the Kharkiv-based weekly newspaper Novyi Stil (New Style) in August 2010, is still a cause of great concern.

38. The meetings the observation delegation held with journalists and media NGOs confirmed the impression that press freedom is being eroded in Ukraine and that the current climate is detrimental to a fair and balanced coverage of electoral campaigns. Unofficial instructions, increased control mechanisms and threats to journalists were amongst the examples given by the Congress interlocutors. Also, the entanglement of business interests and media was brought to the attention of the delegation.

39. Local press is often owned by the local authorities in Ukraine and according to “Reporters without Borders” (August 2010) there is not enough awareness of the degree to which local authorities of all political tendencies obstruct the work of the media. The report states that pressure from local authorities for positive coverage and the difficulty of asserting editorial independence from advertisers means that local journalists face great difficulties and have little room for manœuvre, with the limited labour market for journalists, the cost to rebellious journalists possibly being high.

40. In general, the media landscape in Ukraine is dominated by so-called media barons or moguls. However, in Ukraine this is not balanced by a strong public broadcaster. Although there is a state television channel in Ukraine, the delegation was informed about insufficient information on local issues during the election campaign (party political broadcasts were transmitted between 9 am and 5 pm, when the majority of the population are at work).

41. The delegation also heard reports of hidden election campaigning through paid programmes or favourable articles (not highlighted as advertisements) as well as occasional smear campaigns. Generally, it was widely considered that only the rich established parties had media campaigns and that overall there was a lack of political analysis and debate on the issues in the media.

42. In the Chernihiv oblast the NGO ‘Clean Politics Expert Club’7 had a project to focus the media on the local issues and to give all parties/candidates equal access. They held a press conference and invited each of the ten candidates for Mayor to propose how to solve ten problems in Chernihiv. They then had five minutes to promote their programme and each political party was also given five minutes to promote their campaign. This initiative to ensure equal coverage, quality reporting and focus on real issues was positively received by members of the delegation.

43. The Civic Network OPORA – a domestic NGO with experience in three previous national elections, including the pre-term parliamentary elections in 2007 and the two rounds of the 2010 presidential elections – found that also administrative resources had have been used on a larger scale in comparison to the 2010 presidential elections. Observers from the “Committee for Open Democracy” reported excessive use of administrative resources by the Odessa Regional State Administration, to coerce voters to support the candidate from the ruling party. OPORA also criticised that non-transparent election campaign financing created grounds for “black” electoral budgets thus opening the doors for potential misuse.8

VIII. Congress deployment on election day

44. The Congress delegation was divided into eleven teams which covered eight different regions (oblasts) observing 160 different polling stations in different constituencies. The teams were deployed as follows:

Kyiv Oblast

Team A Mr Francis LEC, France (L, SOC)

Ms Pauline CADÉAC, Congress

Cherkasy

Team B Mr Nigel MERMAGEN United Kingdom (L, ILDG) (Rapporteur)

Mr Henry FERAL, France (L, PPE/DC-EPP/CD),

Chernihiv

Team C Mrs Hande Özsan BOZATLI, Turkey (R, EPP/CD)

Ms Nichola HOWSON, Congress

Odessa

Team D Mr Gintautas GEGUZINSKAS, Lithuania (R, EPP/CD)

Mr Joseph CORDINA, Malta (PES)

Team E Mrs Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM, Austria (R, SOC) (Head of the Delegation)

Mrs Antonella CAGNOLATI, Congress

Karkhiv

Team F Mr Emin YERITSYAN, Armenia (L, EPP/CD)

Mr Vladimir NOVIKOV, Russian Federation (L, NR)

Team G Mr Petru Radu PAUN JURA, Romania, (L, ILDG)

Mr Günther KRUG, Germany (R SOC)

Lviv

Team H Mr Volkram GEBEL, Germany (L, EPP/CD)
Mrs Renate ZIKMUND, Congress

Team I Mr Teet KALLASVEE, Estonia (EPP)
Mrs Jon HERMANS-VLOEDBELD, Netherlands (L, ILDG)

Chernivtsi and Kam’yanets’-Podil’s’kyy

Team J Mr Brian MEANEY, Ireland (EA)

Mrs Dusica DAVIDOVIC, Serbia (R, NR)

Mrs Doreen HUDDART, United Kingdom (ALDE)

Crimea

Team K Mr Devrim CUKUR, Turkey (R, SOC)

Mr Hannu KEMPPAINEN Finland (L, ILDG)

45. The polling stations were open from 8 am until 10 pm. The Congress teams observed opening procedures as well as closing and counting sessions in different polling stations. In relation to the developments and observations during polling day, the teams decided to inspect certain polling stations twice or to add specific precincts to their observation programme.

IX. Observations on voting day

46. In general, members of the Congress observation delegation noted a tense atmosphere concerning these local elections, in particular during the opening procedures. This can be linked to reports from domestic NGOs on the discovery of an excessive number of extra ballots being printed, or ballots being printed with errors, before the election day, as well as the imbalance of political party representation at different levels of election commissions and Just before election day there were fears that prominent opposition candidates would be deregistered by TECs when it was too late to obtain legal redress.  Although there was little evidence of this happening on a large scale, there were a number of suspicious last minute deregistrations among opposition candidates.

47. Some teams observed chaotic and confused openings of polling stations. This was due to last minute changes to the ballot papers. The new local election law allows a Territorial Election Commission (TEC) to deregister a candidate for contraventions of election regulations up until 10 pm on the eve of the election day. One team observed a polling station open at 8 am and then close 20 minutes later, as the Precinct Election Commission (PEC) learnt that one of the candidates had been deregistered. This team then watched as the deregistered candidate was stamped out on the ballot papers but no one knew what to do with the ballot papers that had already been cast. This caused considerable tension inside and outside the polling station. A similar situation was observed by another team in a polling station which was not closed down – but where the deregistered candidate was stamped out during the election process went on. When Congress members asked a PEC executive what to do with the votes already cast, he replied that they were invalid.

48. The Congress delegation was informed by several sources (domestic and international NGOs, political parties and concerned citizens) that there was a great deal of pressure on members of electoral commissions. The turnover of the PECs was extraordinarily high, and in some precincts 25% of PEC representation was changed in the first week, according to reports, the reasons for the withdrawals were: candidates had been proposed by parties without their agreement; external pressure to leave; low payment; complexity of the work; the stress and because the vote counting was expected to last several days.9

49. All the observation teams expressed doubts about the level of training that the Precinct Election Commissions (PECs) had received. There was no centralised, co-ordinated, coherent training programme for them to follow. It was left to the responsibility of the political parties to organise training for their members of the PECs, which some did and others did not, it was very hit and miss, which led to some disagreements between members of the PECs on how to interpret the complicated election law.

50. Many observer teams were informed about the late arrival of ballot papers to the PECs. There were cases where a part of the ballot papers had been delivered or collected during the night previous to the election day. This meant that some members of the PECs had not slept the night before the election as the ballot papers had to be counted before the polls were opened.

51. However, it was observed that in the majority of polling stations the Chair of the PEC was very experienced, dedicated and in control of the polling station. It also was noted that women held the majority of seats in PECs and their active role in the democratic process should be applauded as it was very time consuming, stressful and with very little remuneration.

52. Several observation teams noted polling stations which were too small, particularly those held in classrooms in schools. At peak times this led to queuing inside and outside the polling stations and considerable delays in the voting process. They observed citizens decide against voting when they saw the queues.

53. In some stations Congress observers noticed a shortage of voting booths, leading many voters to mark their ballot papers wherever they could find a convenient place to do so, against walls and occasionally on the ballot boxes themselves, thereby jeopardising the secrecy of the vote.

54. It was also observed that many of the polling stations visited did not have handicap access. In some cases polling stations were situated on the second or third floor of a building without a lift.

55. The number of ballot papers (between five and seven depending on the locality) and the length of each one, due to the number of candidates and parties, caused confusion and delays, particularly amongst older voters, who were observed to come out of the voting booths to hold the ballot paper to a better light to be able to read it.

56. The printing of ballot papers was carried out by a large number of contractors around the country, many without qualifications or experience in security printing, which led to problems in security control.  This in turn gave rise to allegations of excessive printing of ballot papers and of fake ballot papers being used. The delegation also heard reports concerning the order in which candidates appeared on the ballots. The ballot list was supposed to be in the order of the registration but the delegation heard from several stakeholders that some political parties were somehow already registered before the registration process officially opened.

57. During the meetings that the observation delegations had held with regional NGOs and political parties, on the eve of the election, concerns were expressed about the situation concerning home voting. The delegation paid particular attention to this point on the election day. According to the local election law any citizen could register to vote at home because of health reasons, a note from a medical professional was not required. There was concern that such a system is open to possible abuse and fraud during the elections.

58. Every polling station visited by the Congress teams had home voting. It was noted that the general practice was three members of the PEC took a mobile voting box to homes to allow people, registered on the home voting list, to cast their vote. They were accompanied by observers and sometimes a police officer. Unfortunately none of the observation teams were able to actually observe a home vote take place. Home voting was mainly a small percentage of the vote; however, in one polling station it was observed that home voting was 10% of the voting list which is cause for concern.

59. The actual voting on the day took place in a calm and generally orderly manner. However, the Congress delegation did observe an incident of ballot stuffing and on several occasions witnessed family voting.

60. In addition, in certain localities the police and security presence inside and outside polling stations could be said to be intimidating, and some of our observers were aware of police reporting on their movements.

61. The list of voters had been considerably improved, in particular since the last election monitored by the Congress in 2002, and no problems were observed.

62. The counting process was confused, and inordinately lengthy, lasting well into the next day. It resulted in delays to announce results and obviously gave greater opportunity for fraudulent activity. These fastidious procedures were mainly caused by the vagueness of the electoral law and lack of training of the members of the PECs.  

X. Election results

63. Generally, the population of Ukraine is suffering from election fatigue. These elections were the sixth to be held in ten years (without counting second round elections). The turnout for the elections was reported as 46%.

64. As official results of the local elections of 31 October 2010 were not published in a centralised manner, the Congress was unable to retrieve the relevant internet information at this stage. Further to the request of the Congress secretariat of 10 February 2011, Mr Mykola Tochytskyi, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe, presented the document attached to this Explanatory Memorandum (see Appendix VI) on 18 February.

65. According to NGOs, internet and media reports, the Party of Regions of President Victor Yanukovych has considerably strengthened its position and is the main party in two thirds of the cities.

66. Overall, Batkivshchyna remains the main opposition force but lost most of its “traditional” regions, amongst the centre of the country and its western stronghold.

67. Finally, also remarkable is the breakthrough of Oleg Tyahnybok’s ultra-right Party of Freedom (“Svoboda”).

XI. Conclusion

68. The Congress delegation acknowledges the willingness of the Ukrainian government to strengthen territorial democracy which implies measures to ensure genuinely democratic elections at local and regional level. Unfortunately, the newly adopted law on local elections - which had been drafted hastily and adopted without sufficiently taking into account advice and recommendations of the Council of Europe - did not serve this purpose. The Congress regretted in particular that the new legislation led to politically unbalanced electoral administration, prevented independent and self-nominated candidates to run and made the voting procedures and counting unnecessarily fastidious.

69. Therefore, the Congress considers that the local elections held on 31 October 2010 neither met the standards that the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities would wish to see, nor did it meet standards set by Ukraine herself, for the presidential elections in January and February 2010.

70. The Congress wishes that the foreseen unified election code or any other electoral legislation in Ukraine is drafted in line with the recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and that it addresses the problems raised in this report.

Appendix I: Programmes

Programme of the pre-election observation mission

of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

to Ukraine, 11 to 12 October 2010

Sunday, 10 October

Arrival of the delegation in Kyiv

Monday, 11 October

08.45 Meeting with OSCE Ambassador Lubomir KOPAJ

10.00 Meeting with Yuriy KLUCHKOVSKIY, MP, Our Ukraine party,

Deputy Head of the Committee on the state building and local self-government

11.00 Meeting with Myroslav PITZYK, Chief Executive of the Association of Cities

12.00 Meeting with Vasyl ZAJCHUK, Head of the Association of the Villages' and Settlements' Councils

14.00 Mr Viktor TYKHONOV, Vice Prime Minister for Regional Politics of Ukraine

15.15 Mr Kostyantyn GRYSHCHENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

17.00 Mr Andrij MAGERA, Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission and members of the Central Election Commission, Ms Hanna USENKO-CHORNA, Ms Yulia SHVETS, Mr Ihor ZHYDENKO and Mr Valery SHELUDKO

Tuesday, 12 October

09.00 Meeting with non-governmental organisations:

Ms Olga AIVAZOVSKA, “Opora”

Mr Oleksadr CHERNENKO, Committee of Voters of Ukraine,

10.00 Meeting with Media representatives:

Mr. Oleksandr CHEKMYSHEV, Equility of Opportunities

Ms.Natalia LIGACHOVA, Internet Edition “Telekrytyka”

Mr. Andriy KULYKOV, ICTV Channel, "Freedom of Speech" Programme

Ms. Inna VEDERNIKOVA, Dzerkalo Tyzhnya newspaper

11.00 Mr V. UDOVYCHENKO, Mayor of Slavutych, Kyiv Region, Member of Congress Delegation from Ukraine

12.00 Meeting with representatives of international NGOs

Ms Kristina WILFORE, National Democratic Institute

Ms Kateryna RYABIKO, USAID Ukraine

13.00 Mr Y. ANDRIJCHUK, Association of Local and Regional Authorities Association of Ukraine

13.30 Meeting with representatives of BYuT (Yulia TYMOSHENKO Bloc)

14.00 Departure of delegation for airport

PROGRAMME FOR THE CONGRESS DELEGATION FOR THE OBSERVATION

OF LOCAL ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE ON 31 OCTOBER 2010

28 October – 2 November 2010

Thursday, 28 October

Arrival of delegation in Kyiv

Friday, 29 October

08.15-09.00 Entire delegation briefing in the hotel in (Embassy Suite 1);
the delegation splits into two groups

Delegation A travels to meetings around Kyiv

Mrs Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM (Head of Delegation)
Mr Nigel MERMAGEN (Rapporteur)
Mrs Doreen HUDDART (Committee of the Regions)
Mr Gunther KRUG – in the afternoon (Congress)
Mrs Antonella CAGNOLATI (Congress Director)
Mrs Pauline CADEAC – in the morning (Congress)
Mr Sacha PAVLICHENKO (Council of Europe Office in Kyiv)

09.40-10.10 Meeting with Party of Regions
10.15-10.45 Meeting with Our Ukraine Party
11.00-12.00 Mr Volodymyr LYTVYN, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada
12.00-13.00 Mr Andrij MAGERA, Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission
14.00-14.35 Meeting in Presidential Administration with the Deputy Head of the Presidential Administration, Mrs Ollean LUKASH
15.00 Prime-Minister of Ukraine, Mr Mykova AZAROV
16.30-17.20 Meeting with BYuT party in the Parliament
18.00-18.30 Mr Kostyantyn GRYSHCHENKO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine

Delegation B attends meetings at the hotel

Representatives of political parties not in Parliament
09.00-09.45  "Strong Ukraine" of Tygipko, Head of the legal unit of the headquarters, Mr Olexandra PAVLENKO
09.45-10.20 "Front of changes" (Yatsenyuk), Mr Chalyj VALERIJ
10.30-11.05 Socialist Party, Mr O.O. Moroz and Mykola RUDKOVSKY, Head of the electoral headquarters
11.15-11.50 United Centre (Baloga), Mr Igor POPOV
12.00-12.35 Freedom – Svoboda (Tyagnybok)
13.30 ODHIR and International NGOs
Jonathan STONESTREET, Head of the Election Expert team and Mrs Lusine BADALYAN, Election Adviser ODHIR,
Ms Kristina WILFORE, National Democratic Institute
14.30 Meeting with local NGOs
Ms Olga AIVAZOVSKA, OPORA
Mr Oleksadr CHERNENKO, Committee of Voters of Ukraine,
16.30 Meeting with media representatives
Ms Natalia LIGACHOVA, "Telekrytyka" magazine Editor-in Chief
Mr Andriy KULYKOV, ICTV, "Freedom of Expression" Programme Host
Ms Viktoria SJUMAR, Head of the Institute of Mass Media

Saturday, 30 October – Deployment of teams to regions – afternoon meetings in the regions

Kyiv Oblast

Team A Mr Francis LEC, France (L, SOC), 1er Vice-Président du Conseil Général de la Somme - Conseiller municipal d'Amiens

Ms Pauline CADÉAC, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission, Congress

11.00 Meeting in the Ukrainka city with the Mayor Kozyrev Pavlo GENRIHOVYCH

15.00 Meeting with Mayor of Boryspol Fedorchuk Anatolij SOLOVIOVYCH

Kyiv - Cherkasy

Team B Mr Nigel MERMAGEN United Kingdom (L, ILDG) (Rapporteur)

Councillor, South Somerset District Council

Mr Henry FERAL, France (L, PPE/DC-EPP/CD), Mayor of Puycelci

14.00-17.00 Meetings with the representatives of the parties, NGO and media in the conference

As well as a meeting with the Mayor of Cherkassy

Kyiv - Chernihiv

Team C Mrs Hande Özsan BOZATLI, Turkey (R, NR), Vice-President of Istanbul Provincial Council

Mrs Nichola HOWSON, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission, Congress

11.00-18.00 Meetings with the Governor, representatives of political parties, Regional Electoral Commission, NGOs and Congress member Nataliya ROMANOVA

Odessa

Team D Mr Gintautas GEGUZINSKAS, Lithuania (R, -EPP/CD), Mayor of Pasvalys District Municipality

Mr Joseph CORDINA, Malta (PES), Mayor of Xaghra

Team E Mrs Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM, Austria (R, SOC) (Head of the Delegation) Member and Vice-President of the State Parliament of Salzburg

Mrs Antonella CAGNOLATI, Congress Director

15.00-16.30 Meeting with the Head of the City Council, member of the CoE CLRA Mr Eduard GURVITS

16.30-17.30 Meeting with representatives of regional parties

17.30-18.30 Meeting with NGOs (CVU regional coordinator Mr. Anatoliy BOJKO, “Opora” regional coordinator Ms. Vira GRUZOVA)

Kharkiv

Team F Mr Emin YERITSYAN, Armenia (L, -EPP/CD), Councillor, Community of Parakar

Mr Vladimir NOVIKOV, Russian Federation (L, NR)

Team G Mr Petru Radu PAUN JURA, Romania, (L, ILDG), Mayor of Simeria,

Huedoara Cunty

Mr Günther KRUG, Germany (R SOC) Mitglied des Abgeordnetenhauses, Berlin

14.00 Meeting with the representative of party ‘Batkivschina’ Mr Arsen AVAKOV

15.00 Meeting with current Mayor – Mr. KERNES

16.00 Meeting with the representative of Communist Party – Alla Aleksandrovska

17.00 NGOs: Opora Viktoria Shevchuk Committee of Voters of Ukraine Kamchatnyi Michael)

Kharkiv Human Rights Group – Yevgeniy Zakharov

Lviv

Team H Mr Volkram GEBEL, Germany (L, EPP/CD), Landrat, Kreis Plön (communal level)
Mrs Renate ZIKMUND, Head of the Congress Division of International Relations and Election Observation

Team I Mr Teet KALLASVEE, Estonia (EPP), Member of the Haapsalu City Council
Mrs Jon HERMANS-VLOEDBELD, Netherlands (L, ILDG), Mayor of Almelo

13.30-14.30 Meeting with the Congress Member, the Lviv Regional Council Head, Mr Myroslav SENYK

14.30-16.00 Meeting with the Heads of the Regional Parties, including the Former Mayor of Lviv, former member of the Congress, former Minister of Regional Development and Construction of Ukraine, Mr Vasyl KYJBIDA

16.30-17.30 Meetings with the NGOs “Opora" Mr Andriy DUBCHAK and the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) Ms Oksana DYSHCHAKIVSKA

18.00 Meeting with the Mayor of L’viv, Mr Andriy Sadovyi

Chernivtsi and Kam’yanets’-Podil’s’kyy

Team J Mr Brian MEANEY, Ireland (EA), Clare County Council, Mid-West Regional Authority

Mrs Dusica DAVIDOVIC, Serbia (R, NR), Member of the City Assembly of Nis

Mrs Doreen HUDDART, United Kingdom (ALDE, Member of Newcastle City Council)

12.00-13.00 Meeting with the Head of the International Department, Mr Volodymyr Kylynych, Chernivtsi City Council

13.00-14.30 Meeting with the Heads of the Chernivtsi Regional Parties

15.00-16.30 Meeting with NGOs (Chernivtsi CVU Head Yaroslav FILYAK and Kam'yanets- Podilskyi CVU Head Yuriy ANUFRIEV Chernivtsi "Opora" Head Nazar TYMOSHCHUK plus one more NGO representative from Kam'yanets-Podilskyi)

16.30-17.30 Meeting with the representative of the Kam'yanets-Podilskyi City Council

Crimea

Team K Mr Devrim CUKUR, Turkey (R, NI/NR), Member of the Provincial Council of Izmir

Mr Hannu KEMPPAINEN Finland (L, ILDG), Member of the City Council of Kajaani, Chair, City Board

14.00-14.30 Meeting with the Head of the City Council Mr. Hennadiy BABENKO

14.30-15.30 Meeting with representatives of the regional parties

15.40-16.40 Meeting with NGOs (NGO “Information Press Center” Head Ms. Valentyna Samar,

16.45-19.30 Meeting with a member of the Congress delegation from Ukraine, Ms. Larisa TUYSUZOVA

Sunday, 31 October – LOCAL ELECTION DAY

Polling stations open at 07h15 (without possibility to vote)

Voting starts at 08h00 and ends at 22h00

Monday, 1 November

Return of the election observation teams to Kyiv

15h00 Press conference at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Kyiv

Tuesday, 2 November

Delegation leaves Ukraine

Appendix III: Media Advisory

Ref: MA107a10

Strasbourg, 07.10.2010

Local elections in Ukraine: Congress pre-election delegation heads for Kyiv

Date: 11-12 October 2010

Location: Kyiv (Ukraine)

A delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, headed by Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC), will carry out a pre-electoral mission to Ukraine for the upcoming local elections which are scheduled for 31 October 2010. Nigel Mermagen (UK, ILDG) was appointed Rapporteur for the report which will follow the election monitoring.

The pre-election delegation will meet with representatives of government, electoral bodies, parties, the diplomatic community, NGOs and the media. A larger Congress delegation – including members of the EU-Committee of the Regions – will be in the country from 28 October to 1 November to observe the elections.

Members of the Congress pre-election delegation:

Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM (Austria, SOC) - Head of Delegation

Nigel MERMAGEN (UK, ILDG) - Rapporteur

Michel GUEGAN (France, NR)

Emin YERITSYAN (Armenia, EPP/DC)

Press contacts on the spot:

Renate ZIKMUND, Head of the Congress Division of Communication, International Relations and Election Observation, tel. +33 6 59 78 64 55; renate.zikmund@coe.int

Council of Europe Office in Kyiv, Tel: +380 44 2344084, http://www.coe.kiev.ua/

More information is available at www.coe.int/congress-elections

Appendix IV: Media Advisory

Ref: MA118a10

Strasbourg, 26.10.2010

Council of Europe Congress to observe local elections in Ukraine

Date: 28 October to 2 November 2010

Location: Ukraine

A delegation from the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe will observe local elections in Ukraine, on 31 October 2010.

On 29 and 30 October the delegation will hold meetings in Kyiv and in some regions with representatives from government, opposition, electoral bodies, NGOs and media.

Amongst the meetings requested by the delegation are the Presidential Administration and the Minister of Regional Development and Construction of Ukraine, Volodymyr Yatsuba. Meetings have been confirmed with the Chairman of the Parliament (Verkhovna Rada), Volodymyr Lytvyn; Deputy Head of the Central Election Commission, Andrij Magera; representatives of political parties; the Foundation for Local Self-government in Ukraine; as well as with ODHIR and other international organisations.

On 29 October, the delegation will divide into eleven teams and deploy to several cities including Odessa, Lviv, Simferopol and Kharkiv. There, they will meet with elected representatives, candidates and NGOs on 30 October and observe the elections on 31 October.

Gudrun Mosler-Törnström, Austria (R, SOC) will head the delegation, which will also include four members of the European Union’s Committee of the Regions as a part of the cooperation agreement between the two institutions. Nigel Mermagen, United Kingdom (L, ILDG) will be the Rapporteur of the mission and Doreen Huddart, United Kingdom, (ALDE) the speaker of the Committee of the Regions.

A pre-election mission was carried out at the beginning of October in Kyiv to assess the situation in the country prior to the elections. On this occasion, Congress members met representatives of electoral bodies, representatives of government and Parliament, as well as opposition representatives including Yuliya Tymoshenko.

The delegation will present its preliminary findings during a press conference scheduled for Monday 1 November at 15:00 at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Kyiv (Radisson Blu Hotel, Yaroslaviv Val str. 22, Kyiv 01034).

The delegation

Mrs Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM Austria (R, SOC) - Head of the Delegation

Mr Nigel MERMAGEN, United Kingdom (L, ILDG) - Rapporteur

Mrs BOZATLI Hande Özsan, Turkey (R, EPP/CD)

Mr Devrim CUKUR, Turkey (R, SOC)

Mrs Dusica DAVIDOVIC, Serbia (R, NR)

Mr Henry FERAL, France (L, EPP/CD)

Mr Volkram GEBEL, Germany (L, EPP/CD)

Mr Gintautas GEGUZINSKAS, Lithuania (R, EPP/CD)

Mrs Jon HERMANS-VLOEDBELD, the Netherlands (L, ILDG)

Mr Günther KRUG, Germany (R, SOC)

Mr Hannu KEMPPAINEN, Finland (L, ILDG)

Mr Francis LEC, France (L, SOC)

Mr Vladimir NOVIKOV, Russian Federation (L, NR)

Mr Petru Radu PAUN JURA, Romania, (L, ILDG)

Mr Emin YERITSYAN, Armenia (L, EPP/CD)

EU Committee of the Regions

Mr Joseph CORDINA, Malta (PES)

Mrs Doreen HUDDART, United Kingdom, (ALDE) – speaker of the Committee of the Regions

Mr Teet KALLASVEE, Estonia (EPP)

Mr Brian MEANEY, Ireland (EA)

Congress Secretariat

Antonella CAGNOLATI, Congress Director

Renate ZIKMUND, Head of the Congress Division of Communication, International Relations and Election Observation,

Nichola HOWSON, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission

Pauline CADÉAC, Assistant to the Ukrainian election mission

Press contacts on the spot:

Renate Zikmund, Head of the Congress Division of Communication, International Relations and Election Observation, tel. +33 6 59 78 64 55; renate.zikmund@coe.int

Council of Europe Office in Kyiv, Tel: +380 44 2344084, http://www.coe.kiev.ua/

More information is available at www.coe.int/congress-elections

Appendix V: Press Release

Ref. 816a10

Congress calls on Ukraine for urgent improvement of electoral legislation


Kyiv, 01.11.2010 – A 23-member delegation of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities yesterday observed the local elections in Ukraine. 33.6 million voters were asked to decide on city mayors and heads of villages and settlements, city and rural councils as well as on regional representatives. On the Crimean peninsula, a region with autonomous status within Ukraine, elections were also held for the Crimean Supreme Council. In the rest of Ukraine, this was the first time that elections had been held for the territorial self-governmental bodies of the country, without national elections taking place at the same time.


The Congress delegation was made up of elected representatives from 15 European countries, including four representatives of the EU Committee of the Regions. They observed the voting in different cities, towns and regions of Ukraine, especially in the communities surrounding the cities of Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkiv, Lviv, Chernivitsi as well as on the Crimean peninsula. On 11 and 12 October 2010, a Congress pre-election delegation had held talks with representatives of government and opposition parties, electoral bodies, NGOs, diplomatic circles and the media to assess the general political situation, the legal framework, the election campaign and the situation relating to the press and freedom of expression.


At a press conference on 1 November 2010, members of the delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities expressed concern over the electoral law for local elections that had been passed by the Ukrainian Parliament just some weeks prior to the elections. They stated that as a consequence of this hastily drafted law, there were shortcomings with regard to the preparation phase, in particular, the registration of candidates and the composition of electoral commissions, the organisational framework and the counting of votes on election night. The latter was marked by a lack of training in some polling stations and, in general, by overly long counting procedures.


"Those who passed a law allowing for a politically unbalanced composition of election commissions, and providing, for example, that candidates can be removed from the lists at the last moment before the elections, should accept that the voting was not of a standard we would wish to see, namely, fully in line with the requirements of the European standards for fair, transparent and professionally organised elections,” said Head of the Congress delegation Gudrun Mosler-Törnström (Austria, SOC).


"Voting day has exposed the weaknesses of the new electoral law, passed just three months before these local elections," added Teet Kallasvee (Estonia, EPP), on behalf of the EU Committee of the Regions. "We witnessed that those polling stations where the information about de-registration of candidates arrived at the last moment, opened their doors only one or two hours later for the voters. We observed how voters, because of overcrowded polling stations, had to form queues at the polling booths which could have put the secrecy of the vote in danger. There were between five and eight different ballots to be filled-in with dozens of parties and candidates, and, as a consequence, overlong voting procedures.“

The delegation members also expressed concerns with regard to reports that faked and incorrect ballots could have been put into circulation. Furthermore, because of the complicated vote counting that is only vaguely described by the electoral law and due to the fact that decisions could be taken by a quorum of three out of the 18 members of election commissions, lawsuits are to be expected after the announcement of the results. "Surveys showed that before the elections, around 60 percent of the population expected fraud and manipulation. The credibility of the political system in Ukraine has suffered again. This we can say already before we know the final results, which will be the case only in a couple of days”, underlined Congress Rapporteur Nigel Mermagen (United Kingdom, ILDG).

The delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe called on the Ukrainian authorities to draw immediate conclusions from the local elections and to improve the electoral legislation: "The Congress welcomes the fact that Ukraine has held local elections for the first time without carrying out a national ballot at the same time. We are also pleased that, with the exception of some incidents at certain locations, voting ran generally smoothly. This shows that efforts have been made to give local self-government a high priority. It is therefore only logical to create a legal framework for electing local and regional self-governmental bodies fully in line with European standards. This requires the weaknesses of the existing legislation to be remedied as quickly as possible”, stressed Gudrun Mosler-Törnström.


"Ukraine has already shown it can do better - for example, in the presidential elections earlier this year. With the Council of Europe and its experts in the various institutions, such as the Congress or the Venice Commission, Ukraine has a dependable partner at her side to achieve what is, according to President Yanukovich himself, at the top of the agenda, namely the creation of a unified electoral code for the country to ensure genuinely democratic elections,” she concluded.

Appendix VI: Document presented to Congress Secretariat by the Permanent Representation of Ukraine to the Council of Europe on 18 February 2011

1 L: Chamber of Local Authorities / R: Chamber of Regions

ILDG: Independent and Liberal Democrat Group of the Congress

EPP/CD: European People’s Party – Christian Democrats of the Congress

SOC: Socialist Group of the Congress

NR: Members not belonging to a Political Group of the Congress

2 The law on Elections of Members of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Local Councils and Village, Settlement, City Mayors came into force on 31 July 2010 and was amended on 30 August 2010, only two months before the elections.

3

4 Report on Compliance of the Ukrainian Legislation with the Principles of the European Charter for Local Self-Government, DPA/PAD 1/2010.

5 European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters (CDL-AD(2002)23 rev).

6 http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2010,1034.html

7 http://www.politika.cn.ua/

8 OPORA summary of Long-term Local Election Observation findings

9 OPORA Interim report on the findings of their long-term election observation for the period 10-28 October 2010.



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