Thursday

23rd Nov 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.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

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.

EU 'regrets' Ukraine court decision on Tymoshenko

Ukraine’s high court decision to toss out an appeal by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko may place an additional strain on EU relations with the country, EU foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Mann told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

EU-Ukraine summit 'unlikely' this year

The EU and Ukraine will "most likely" not hold a summit this year, but diplomats blame it on technical instead of political reasons.

EU countries split on Ukraine treaty

A handful of EU countries want to sign a treaty with Ukraine in autumn despite its erosion of democratic standards. But others disagree.

Opinion

Germany needs a new Ostpolitik

In the light of today’s constellation of forces and interests in eastern Europe, Germany needs to adopt a new eastern policy.

Opinion

The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik

If, as the EU claims, the Eastern Partnership summit is not a format for conflict resolution, where else will the security issues that hold the region back be resolved?

News in Brief

  1. December euro summit still on, Tusk confirms
  2. EU calls for end to Kenya election crisis
  3. Report: Israeli PM invited to meet EU ministers
  4. French banks close Le Pen accounts
  5. Commission relaxes rules on labelling free range eggs
  6. Commission issues €34m fine over car equipment cartel
  7. Estonian presidency 'delighted' with emissions trading vote
  8. Mladic found guilty of genocide and war crimes

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Idealist Quarterly"Dear Politics, Time to Meet Creativity!" Afterwork Discussion & Networking
  2. Mission of China to the EUAmbassador Zhang Ming Received by Tusk; Bright Future for EU-China Relations
  3. EU2017EEEstonia, With the ECHAlliance, Introduces the Digital Health Society Declaration
  4. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement For All Families? Same Sex Couple Ask EU Court for Recognition
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC to French President Macron: We Oppose All Contact With Far-Right & Far-Left
  6. EPSUWith EU Pillar of Social Rights in Place, Time Is Ticking for Commission to Deliver
  7. ILGA EuropeBan on LGBTI Events in Ankara Must Be Overturned
  8. Bio-Based IndustriesBio-Based Industries: European Growth is in Our Nature!
  9. Dialogue PlatformErdogan's Most Vulnerable Victims: Women and Children
  10. UNICEFEuropean Parliament Marks World Children's Day by Launching Dialogue With Children
  11. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  12. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure

Latest News

  1. Mali blames West for chaos in Libya
  2. Orban stokes up his voters with anti-Soros 'consultation'
  3. Commission warns Italy over high debt level
  4. Mladic found guilty for Bosnia genocide and war crimes
  5. Uber may face fines in EU for keeping data breach secret
  6. EU counter-propaganda 'harms' relations, Russia says
  7. The EU's half-hearted Ostpolitik
  8. Glyphosate: 1.3 million EU citizens call for ban