Delivered by Ambassador Ihor Prokopchuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the International Organizations in Vienna, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on 29 October 2015
On 25 October 2015 the regular local elections took place in Ukraine, except in the temporarily occupied Crimea and certain areas of Donbas. Following the democratic conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014, these local elections became another crucial step towards consolidating the democratic processes in the country.
Despite the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine and grave security challenges, the local elections were conducted in a democratic manner in accordance with the national legislation, OSCE commitments and international standards.
According to the preliminary findings and conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR-led International Election Observation Mission, also including the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament, “the elections were competitive, well organized overall and the campaign generally showed respect for the democratic process. The voting and counting process was transparent and orderly”.
The voters had a wide array of parties and candidates to choose from. Due to improvements to the electoral legislation, women comprised about 35 per cent of all registered candidates. The inclusive accreditation of observers contributed to the transparency of the electoral process.
The findings reflect a strong commitment of Ukraine to democracy and elections as a decisive instrument for free expression of the people’s will.
These local elections in Ukraine took place in a very challenging political, economic and social environment, marked by the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the temporary control of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts by the illegal armed groups, supported by Russia. Consequently, the elections could not be held in the occupied territories of Donbas, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. This made it impossible for millions of voters in these areas to cast their votes.
Local elections have demonstrated Ukrainian nation’s clear choice for European values and far-reaching democratic reforms.
According to the preliminary results of the counting and the figures of the exit-polls, the vast majority voted for the democratic political forces, allowing to form pro-Ukrainian coalitions in the local councils and spearhead the reform efforts.
The renewal of the local authorities takes place amidst the ongoing decentralization process, vesting the local communities with more powers, resources and responsibility.
Despite the absence of relevant commitments in the OSCE on inviting international observers for local elections, Ukraine has done so as a manifestation of transparency and being confident of the benefits of such observation for enhancing implementation of OSCE commitments on democratic election. We are grateful to the OSCE/ODIHR and the OSCE participating States for a positive response to our invitation.
Ukraine highly appreciates the unprecedented attention attached by the international community to these local elections. It is well exemplified by the largest ever number of international observers for local elections in Ukraine, deployed last week, - a total of 1,555 international observers, including the large-scale election observation mission by the OSCE/ODIHR. Voting was observed in over 2,600 polling stations out of a total of 29,261 which fostered the transparency of the electoral process as well as testified to the comprehensive nature of election observation.
The Central Election Commission registered as observers 83 non-governmental organizations. Citizen observer groups and international organizations could register an unlimited number of observers who have broad rights, including the right to attend sessions of all election commissions and to receive documents, including results protocols.
We welcome the statement on the preliminary findings and conclusions of international election observation. We are conscious of the shortcomings of the electoral process in Ukraine and are determined to seek further improvements. We will carefully review the conclusions and recommendations of the Final Report with a view to addressing shortcomings and continuing improvement of electoral legislation and practices.
In conclusion, we would like to emphasise that the successful conduct of these local elections is another important step in consolidating the democratic progress of Ukraine and inclusive political dialogue at national level, ensuring political and economic stability of Ukraine, as well as reaffirms Ukraine’s commitment to the reform process.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.