Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Dodgy elections harm EU-Ukraine ties

  • The OSCE report was more harsh than the EU expected (Photo: osce.org)

Prospects for an EU-Ukraine treaty faded further on Monday (29 October) when election monitors said Ukraine is going backward on democracy.

The Vienna-based voting watchdog, the OSCE, noted that election day itself went well.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

It said Sunday was "calm and peaceful," that there was a healthy turnout of 58 percent and that vote counting was done properly in 96 percent of cases.

But it gave a laundry-list of problems in the run-up to the event.

The biggest one was the exclusion - "based on unfair criminal convictions" - of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko and former interior minister Yuriy Lutsenko.

It also said that "powerful economic groups influenced the political environment," that President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling Party of the Regions used state money for its campaign and that state TV showed a "clear bias" in its favour.

It noted that some voters were bribed with gifts, 13 candidates were threatened with violence, campaign workers had tents torn down and there was "widespread use of black PR" - such as distribution of fake pamphlets in the name of political opponents.

Some outside observers, such as MEPs from the Party-of-Regions-affiliated centre-left S&D group, said the OSCE's concerns "should not discredit the outcome."

But for her part, Walburga Habsburg Douglas, a Swedish politician who led the OSCE mission, spoke damningly of the Yanukoych machine.

"Considering the abuse of power, and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine ... One should not have to visit a prison to hear from leading political figures in the country," she told press on Tuesday.

Andreas Gross, who led a delegation from the Strasbourg-based rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, added: "The 'oligarchisation' of the whole process meant that citizens lost their ownership of the election, as well as their trust in it."

Meanwhile, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt described the overall result as "worrying."

Top EU officials are planning to meet with Yanukovych in Brussels in late November or early December.

But the OSCE criticism has dimmed even further the prospects of signing an EU-Ukraine political and association pact designed to pull the nation out of Russia's sphere of influence.

"The OSCE report was sharper than we expected. There is absolutely no basis to sign the agreement ... It would not have happened at the summit anyway for technical reasons, but we could have been more elastic if the elections had gone well," an EU source said.

"I am glad that the report was so tough - it sends out the message that we are not stupid," the contact added.

Meanwhile, with almost 55 percent of the votes counted on Tuesday afternoon, the Party of Regions came out on top.

The Yanukovych team got 35 percent.

The Tymoshenko-inspired United Opposition got 22 percent and is expected to join up with Udar (13 percent), an anti-corruption party led by a boxing champion, as well as Svoboda, a far-right nationalist group (9 percent).

But post-election haggling, including with hundreds of so-called independent candidates, could create surprise results.

"We told them [Yanukovych officials] that they could win this election without any abuses. But they basically said: 'This is the way we do things in Ukraine.' It's a question of culture, of mentality, which is far away from Western standards and which is not going to change quickly," the EU source added.

Kerry to EU: Believe in yourself

Outgoing US secretary of state gives EU short pep talk from Davos, hailing its peaceful and economic success. 'It's worked, folks', he said.

Moldova turns from EU to Russia

Moldova's president said he would like to scrap an EU treaty and has started preparations to join a Russia-led bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  2. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  3. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  4. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  5. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  6. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  7. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  8. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  9. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  10. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  11. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  12. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London

Latest News

  1. EU says milk protest 'difficult to understand'
  2. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  3. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  4. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  5. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  6. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  7. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  8. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room