Ghost voters: Why Ukraine's authorities are afraid of the population census

Author : Volodymyr Pylypenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

The closer are the elections, the more often we hear the question about how many real voters are in Ukraine
17:45, 27 July 2018

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The closer are the elections, the more often we hear the question about how many real voters are in Ukraine? And this question is definitely not rhetorical, but rather a strategic one.

In particular, the Cabinet of Ministers commissioned a pilot population census in two districts in 2019. A full-fledged procedure was set for 2020. However, experts have doubts that the authorities are capable of organizing it. And most importantly, whether they want to. If the methodology is tested at the end of next year, analysis of the results and preparation of the toolkit will take at least six months.

Let me remind you, Ukraine is the only state in Europe where the population census has not been conducted for 17 years. Although the UN Census requires conducting a census every 10 years. In Ukraine, it was conducted in 2001. Then there were 48 million 457 thousand people.

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Various ministries and departments annually submit the corresponding statistics, which is contradicting. It seems that all the "numbers" are just created. And no one really cares. After all, for many years, billions of hryvnia taxpayers are allocated for these imagined figures.

For example, the number of employed Ukrainians, according to various departments, reaches 3 million. The huge number of people who are eligible for transport benefits (12 million) is primarily due to the lack of adequate accounting. And no one is following the dynamics of the migration processes because of Donbas conflict.

The Ministry of Social Policy is limited to the official registration of IDPs - about 1.5 million. But it does not know how many of them actually live on the territory, controlled by Ukraine.

The wrong amount of the population means errors in the forecast of domestic consumption, inaccuracies in calculating the volume of social assistance, the inability to calculate the load on the infrastructure and the compilation of forecasts for the development of labor potential. All this makes it impossible to build an adequate economic policy. Especially when we speak about the social programs. It is no coincidence that for all the years of Ukraine’s independence a single register of beneficiaries has not been created.

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It is hardly appropriate today to debate whether we need a census of the population.

The question of the reliability of the demographic data and information contained in the bases of various ministries and departments was especially acute after 2014. According to scientists, from 2015 to mid-2018 about 5 million people left the country. The number of those who went abroad for permanent residence is estimated at hundreds of thousands. A lot of people today are labor migrants. How can you plan and implement any reforms, if you do not know how many people actually live in the country?

We proceed from the data of the State Statistics Committee, which claims that they have 17 million citizens registered, of which 16 million are employed. But if a population is 42.5 million, the able-bodied segment should be about 23 million. That is, we have not one million unemployed people, but seven. At the same time, we are planning a large-scale pension reform without having an idea of how many people can pay contributions to the Pension Fund! After all, if we really have 7 million potential payers, then the outlines of the reform are very different: we must not raise the retirement age, but simply give people jobs. We also proceed from the fact that labor reserves are exhausted, because we do not have reliable data on the demographic situation.

In particular, in the absence of reliable figures on the number and composition of the population, healthcare reform, monetization of benefits, the social housing program, etc., are also unjustified.


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Are there any political contexts here? Sure. After all, all these "registrations" allow you to receive budgetary financing for imagined figures of beneficiaries, and also to raise funds from international donors for various "reforms."

In addition, it is easier to hide the scale of the extinction of the country. Every year, there are less and less Ukrainians. The main causes are high mortality, low birth rate, the outflow of people of working age, armed conflict.

It is interesting that the forthcoming elections will also be held in the absence of objective information on the number of voters. And here is a great opportunity for falsification.

The authorities are not interested in publishing the real numbers. After all, "ghost votes" in particular allow manipulation of election results. President’s Administration realizes it. The presidential elections are very close. Nobody wants bad "statistics".

Related: Ukraine's population decreases due to labour migration, - survey

We need to conduct a census as soon as possible, and preferably before the elections. To make it objective, we should involve independent international expert organizations in carrying out and analyzing the results. This will help us to finally understand the real demographic picture and eliminate a number of corruption loops in the social and economic sphere.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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