Many positive aspects of Ukraine elections an important step, and new parliament should take opportunity to advance key reforms, international observers say
KYIV, 27 October 2014 – The 26 October early parliamentary elections marked an important step in consolidating democratic elections in line with international commitments, and were characterized by many positive aspects, including an impartial and efficient Central Election Commission (CEC), competitive contests that offered voters real choice, and general respect for fundamental freedoms, international observers concluded in a preliminary statement released today. The new parliament should ensure that key reforms are passed, and grievances should be resolved with respect for the rule of law and through democratic institutions, the observers said.
"At this crucial moment for the future of their country, Ukraine's institutions and voters responded to daunting challenges with an election that largely upheld democratic commitments," said Kent Härstedt, the Special Co-ordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission. "That response and, in particular, the authorities' determination to enable voting in as many areas of the country as possible, demonstrate a resilience that will help the country overcome its national and international challenges."
"The sombre mood of the Ukrainian people in these elections reflects the gravity of the crisis facing the country. They have chosen a new Verkhovna Rada, which will be very different in composition from its predecessor. By doing so, the Ukrainians have shown their desire for action to address their needs," said Christopher Chope, Head of the PACE delegation. "The Verkhovna Rada must now accept this new mandate in the same spirit and work quickly to implement reforms, many of which are long overdue. The PACE and Venice Commission are ready to assist in this urgent and important work."
By Kent Harstedt
23 October 2014
Kent Harstedt is OSCE Special Co-ordinator and leader the short-term OSCE observer mission for Ukraine’s parliamentary elections. A member of the Swedish parliament, he serves as a vice president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
Imagine trying to hold an election at the most critical juncture in your country’s modern history -- a vote that is vital for your nation’s security and place in the world. Imagine trying to hold the election amid threats from within and without, a teetering economy, an atmosphere of tense uncertainty, and under the watchful eye of the world. Now imagine trying to do it cleanly. Twice. Imagine Ukraine.
I was there the last time, this May, when Ukrainians went to the polls to choose a new head of state. In my capacity as an OSCE parliamentarian, I had visited Dnipropetrovsk and Zaporizhzhya oblasts in the east on a pre-election visit and was deployed to monitor the vote in Odessa on election day. Under extraordinary circumstances, Ukraine’s institutions and voters rose to the occasion. They gave President Poroshenko a strong mandate to begin enacting critical reforms. Those efforts, of course, are incomplete, and justified or not, many fault the Verkhovna Rada for sluggishness and inertia when the moment demands decisive action. That frustration, insomuch as it is hunger to realize the ideals of Maidan, is an extremely healthy sign for the country. The expectation among the country’s citizens and international partners, alike, is that the new Rada will work expeditiously to tackle corruption and modernize all sectors of the state, while safeguarding civil liberties in all parts of the country. They must also investigate the deaths and casualties that have resulted from this conflict. But first, there has to be a vote -- and it won’t be any less challenging than the last one.
COPENHAGEN, 23 October 2014 – President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) today issued the following statement regarding the shooting at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa on Wednesday:
"I was shocked and saddened to learn of the shooting at the Canadian Parliament yesterday. On behalf of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, I condemn this act in the strongest terms and extend my deep condolences to the families of the victims and all our friends and colleagues in Canada shaken by this senseless violence.
“Parliament is the most visible symbol of democracy and the shooting yesterday was also a symbolic act – an act of violent extremism striking at the heart of an open society. As the investigation unfolds, I trust that the Canadian authorities will exercise the utmost care in upholding individual rights while bringing to justice whoever is responsible for this heinous act.
“The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly stands today with the Canadian people and behind Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pledge to ‘redouble’ the country’s fight against violent extremists.”
COPENHAGEN, 22 October 2014 – OSCE parliamentarians will conduct a limited election observation mission to the United States of America for the country’s mid-term Congressional elections on 4 November.
Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, will serve as head of the delegation, which will comprise almost 40 MPs from 20 countries.
“I am eager to lead a diverse group of parliamentarians to observe the U.S. vote, holding it up to the same standards that we apply throughout the OSCE area. It is vital that even countries with an established history of democracy continuously assess the quality of their elections and continue making necessary improvements,” Santos said.