Ukraine (October 28, 2012)

Nov. 2, 2012, midnight

Ukrainians went to the polls on Sunday, October 28th, to elect 450 members to the country’s parliament (Verkhovna Rada). With 90 percent of the ballots counted, preliminary results show a victory for Viktor YANUKOVYCH’s incumbent Party of Regions (PRU), winning approximately 32 percent of votes. Imprisoned former minister and opposition leader Yulia TYMOSHENKO’s Batkyvschina (Fatherland) Party came in second with approximately 25 percent, and the Communist Party and the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) came in third and fourth, respectively, with 14 and 13 percent.  Right wing nationalist party Svoboda performed surprisingly well, attracting roughly 9 percent of the vote and easily surpassing the 5 percent threshold for representation.

Although the casting of votes was relatively calm and trouble free, international and domestic observers were strongly critical of the electoral process leading up to Election Day, which was characterized by pervasive pro-government bias in the media and abuse of state power by authorities tied to the ruling Party of Regions. In addition, the counting and tabulation of results has been marred by delays and allegations of fraud and manipulation by the ruling party. Prompted by the wide-spread criticism of counting process irregularities, Ukraine’s Central Electoral Commission (CEC) agreed to make available all the Precinct Election Commissions’ (PECs) protocols.  In a number of close-run single member district races, tabulation of results has ground to a halt, with district election commissions claiming that they have been threatened. A final determination of results in those districts will likely be made through the courts, an institution whose impartiality is considered suspect by many Ukrainians. Walburga Hapsburg Douglas, leader of the OSCE‘s short-term observer mission to Ukraine, stated that “democratic progress appears to have reversed” in the country.

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