Tomorrow, on 21 July 2019, Ukraine will hold the Early Parliamentary Elections. Even these elections are being observed by an International Election Observation Mission deployed by the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), which follows the Mission that has observed the Presidential Elections of 31 March and 21 April of this year.
The Coalition for Reforms, Integration, and Consolidated Institutions (KRIIK Albania), as one of the most experienced organizations in monitoring electoral processes in Albania, is a member of ENEMO since 2009, and a member of the Secretariat of the Network since 20015, currently in its second mandate.
In fulfillment of the Strategy of the organization and in the frame of the Program for the “Monitoring and Improvement of the integrity of the electoral processes”, KRIIK remains fully committed to contribute in these International Election Observation Missions, both as a contribution to strengthening of democracy in post-communist countries and as an opportunity to strengthen even more the capacities of its staff and activists, or even that of partner organizations with which KRIIK has been cooperating in continuity over the years.
Lately, after the successful completion of ENEMO EOMs for the Early Parliamentary Elections of 8 December in Armenia, the Parliamentary Elections of 24 February in Moldova, and the Presidential Elections of 31 March and 21 April in Ukraine, to which KRIIK has contributed by engaging its activists as long or short-term observers, part of the Core Team, or even Head of Mission, even in the current Mission that is observing the 21 July Parliamentary Elections in Ukraine, KRIIK is contributing with eight activists, one of whom engaged with the Core Team, three as long-term observers, and four as short-term observers.
The Election Observation Mission for the Early Parliamentary Elections of 21 July 2019 in Ukraine is composed of a Core Team of 12 experts, 40 long-term observers and 76 short-term observers, engaged 15 member organizations of ENEMO.
Tomorrow, on Election Day, the short-term observers will observe focussing on the opening of polling stations, the voting process, the vote counting and tabulation of results, as well as the intake of election materials by the District Election Commissions.
The observation data will be transmitted in real-time to the Core Team using the application ODK Collect and the platform KoboToolbox, a methodology that is being used for the fourth time by ENEMO, thus establishing a tradition in real-time transmission of observation data during election day.
With regard to the pre-electoral period, on 14 July 2019, the Mission has published its Interim Report, in which it assessed that ENEMO considers that the existing legal framework provides main preconditions for conducting competitive and democratic early parliamentary elections. However, ENEMO has also assessed that strenuous deadlines, considerable uncertainties related to candidate registration and short timeframes for campaigning have created a challenging environment. Although the elections are competitive overall, lack of comprehensive campaign rules may allow candidates to circumvent the principles of fair campaigning and transparency (for more, read the First Interim Report).
Sunday’s elections in Ukraine will be observed also by other international election observation missions, such OSCE/ODIHR, The Parliamentary Assembly of NATO, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the International Republican Institute (IRI), CANADEM, etc.
Regular parliamentary elections were planned to be held in Ukraine on October 2019, but the newly elected President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, immediately after taking the oath into office on 20 May 2019, decided to disband the Parliament and has set the date for the Early Parliamentary Elections on 21 July 2019.
Tomorrow’s election will be held to elect 424 MPs in the Parliament of Ukraine, of 450 MPs in total. Elections will not be held in 26 constituencies, located in Crimea, which has been annexed by the Russian Federation since March 2014, and in parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, east of the country, which are not under the control of the Ukrainian authorities due to the ongoing conflict.
225 MPs will be elected under a proportional system and 199 under a majoritarian one, in as many constituencies. 22 political parties have registered as electoral contestants for these elections, and approximately 6000 candidates are running.
The 21 July 2019 Early Elections in Ukraine are considered of the uttermost importance. Based on polling results, it seems that they will consolidate the power of the newly elected President, Zelensky, whose party, “Servant of the People”, named after the TV series that made him famous and earned him popular support, seems to be headed toward ensuring a landslide victory, maybe even securing more than half of the seats in the Parliament. This would bring a radical change in the Ukrainian political landscape, weakening even more traditional parties.
The President Zelensky came to power running on anti-corruption agenda and his support by more than 70% of the voters in the 21 April election is considered as an indicator of the disappointment of Ukrainians, especially youngsters, with corruption, empty political rhetoric, economic and social stagnation, and the lack of perspective.
The increase of Zelensky’s power is seen with enthusiasm by some and with skepticism by some. While it came into power as an alternative that has promised a lot, he has also been accused of being a puppet in the hands of Ukrainian oligarchs or that he might not be the right person to face the increasing pressure from the Russian Federation. The coming months will show more about the governing path of Zelkensky and his party after he receives the seats in the Ukrainian Parliament.
The International Election Observation Mission of ENEMO will publish its preliminary findings at a Press Conference to be held on 23 July 2019 in Kyiv, at 11:30 (Kyiv local time). The press conference can be followed live on the webpage and at the Facebook page of ENEMO.