Ukrainian elections in the shadow of the conflict with Russia

Published 28 October 2014 in:

Photo: Trey Ratcliff/Flickr CC

On 26 October parliamentary elections were held in Ukraine. The conflict with Russia and the fighting in eastern Ukraine naturally led to some specific problems.

In roughly half of the electoral districts in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk the elections could not be held because of the separatists. However, in view of the difficult situation in eastern Ukraine, those registered as residents there were able to vote in other areas. Due to Russia’s illegal annexation, no voting took place in Crimea either. The newly elected Parliament will therefore have almost thirty vacant seats.

At the time of writing, the final election results are yet to be announced, but it is already quite clear that the reform-oriented parties together have a majority in the Parliament, the Verkhovna Rada. Together, the parties of President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk look set to secure 46 per cent of the seats. The result is almost a repeat of the presidential election in May this year and confirms the strong support for Ukraine’s EU integration process.

A large number of international observers, including many Swedes, were on hand to monitor the elections. On October 27 in the afternoon, observers from the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the European Parliament and NATO presented a preliminary statement. According to the observers, the elections took place under challenging political and security conditions. Despite this, the observers reported that by and large the elections were well conducted. Election day proceeded calmly and the voting process was assessed positively in almost all the polling stations observed.  By comparison, the previous parliamentary elections, conducted in 2012, were heavily criticised.

The elections took place in the shadow of a military conflict with Russia, an illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory and with demonstrations in Maidan square fresh in the memory. Many Ukrainians now expect the President, the Government and the Parliament to take serious steps towards necessary judicial, economic and government reforms. Sweden is a major donor and contributes to a number of important projects in the area.