Ukraine election competitive, but legal issues remain, international observers say

Sunday’s presidential election in Ukraine was competitive, voters had a broad choice and turned out in large numbers. While the existing legal framework offers a sound basis for holding democratic elections, it was often not implemented in good faith by many stakeholders in the run-up to election day. This negatively impacted trust in the election administration, the enforcement of campaign finance rules, and the effective resolution of election disputes, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released today.

Fundamental freedoms were generally respected, and candidates could campaign freely, but numerous indications of vote-buying and the misuse of state resources undermined the credibility of the process. The media landscape is diverse, but campaign coverage lacked in-depth analysis and was often biased, the observers said.

“We were pleased to see that the campaign was competitive but believe, nevertheless, that there are key legal issues that should be addressed as a matter of priority,” said Angela Smith (United Kingdom, SOC), head of the delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). “PACE and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission hope to continue their close co-operation with Ukraine in the field of democratic development.”