On October 25, local elections were held in Ukraine. The population of the country elected deputies of rural, settlement, and city councils and rural, settlement, and city heads. Undoubtedly, this time the counting of votes would take longer than in parliamentary or presidential elections because the members of the commissions would have to sum up the results of several votings at once.
In Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko leads the race - he is gaining 47.8% of the vote. Oleksandr Popov, the candidate from the Opposition Platform - For Life, comes second with 8.6% of the vote. Representative of the Holos party Serhiy Prytula was supported by 8.3% of voters. Iryna Vereshchuk from Servant of the People party takes 8% of the votes. Oleksiy Kucherenko from Batkivshchyna gains 6%.
Since the current mayor of the capital did not reach 50%, he (and his closest rival Popov) will face a second round.
The situation in Kharkiv is more unambiguous, no second round would be held here, the winner has already been determined. Incumbent mayor Gennadiy Kernes bypassed his closest rivals by more than forty percent and scores 57.9%, while Oleksandr Feldman has 12.12%, and Oleksiy Kucher gets 11.98%. These are results of the exit poll, conducted by Savik Shuster's studio, the Ukraine 24 TV channel and Liberty Report sociological company.
The same sociologists also calculated the data for Odesa: current mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov gains 34.4%, and his rivals Mykola Skoryk and Oleg Filimonov have 17.93% and 13.75% respectively. It will also host the second round between the two finalists.
Not like before
Ukraine’s 2020 local elections are unusual for three reasons. First of all, these are the first elections with open lists representation system, that is, with the opportunity to vote not only for the elected party, but also for the candidate from it, whom the voter sympathizes with. The advantage of open lists over closed ones is beyond doubt, but the very transition to this system promised to be painful and difficult, especially for older people who find it difficult to deal with innovations.
The second feature is that this year the elections were held during the pandemic, and this also happened for the first time. On the one hand, Ukrainians demonstrate a deeply indifferent attitude towards all the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, do not wear masks. But on the other hand, as experts suggested, the population could not go to the polls precisely because of the coronavirus, so as not to get into the crowd of people once again. And this would negatively affect the turnout.
And finally, the third point. The elections were combined with the so-called "all-Ukrainian poll" initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Until now, at the exit from the polling station, voters met only sociologists who conducted an exit poll. Now Zelensky's volunteers have joined the sociologists with their "five questions."
By the way, the new bill on a referendum (also presidential), which Zelensky mentioned recently in his interview with TV channels, contains a ban on the simultaneous holding of elections, and a plebiscite. True, his current poll is not a plebiscite, which means that the organizers, obviously, decided that it would not be a sin to combine business with pleasure. However, to all appearances, the presidential team was not very successful in conducting this poll.
“In Kyiv, two people came to the polling station No. 800197 at 09:19 to conduct the presidential poll. They tried to get directly into the polling station, but the CEC members called the police,” Opora civic network reports. According to the instructions, volunteers must work outside the polling station and not campaign for anyone. In case of bad weather, interviewers can go under the shed or into the premises, but not directly enter the polling station.
Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Dmytro Razumkov voted at his polling station No. 800982 and claimed he simply did not find those people, who conducted Zelensky’s poll. This is what he told after voting. But the speaker rejected the proposal to look for volunteers on his own in order to take part in the poll of the president: "Unfortunately, no. I have something to do. I will still work today."
In general, there was no particular excitement around Zelensky’s volunteers. “Everything is traditionally calm at our polling station. Voters are subjected to the temperature screening, there is a special voting booth for those who have a fever (higher than 37.2), but no one has used it today. Sociologists of the Rating group work in the foyer, but we did not notice that anyone was interviewed in front of us. Two guys are standing outside with the questionnaires for Zelensky’s poll. I asked how many people were taking part in the survey. The answer was diplomatic: "Some people take part in it, yes," Inna Kuznetsova, the editor of Radio Liberty Kyiv bureau wrote in social media.
And MP from "Eurosolidarity" Iryna Gerashchenko focused on those cases when teenagers "volunteered" near the polling stations. "Kostopil, Rivne region. The child is 14 years old! And he is involved in a pseudo-poll of Zelensky," Gerashchenko wrote on Facebook.
In the end, Ukraine’s Ombudsman Lyudmyla Denisova gave her an explanation of the situation. The Ombudsman explained that persons between the ages of 14 and 18 can volunteer with the consent of their parents or other legal representatives if volunteer assistance is voluntary and free of charge. Therefore, let's hope that the Ze-team did not pay the teenagers anything, because they helped her exclusively at the call of the heart.
President Volodymyr Zelensky had a great surprise at the polling station. Femen movement representative decided to show the head of state and his wife an indecent performance. She lifted her skirt and showed the absence of underwear, as well as the lower abdomen, painted in green, and also the inside of the skirt, where the inscription Zexist was written (probably a combination of the words Zelensky and sexist).
The performance lasted for a few seconds until the offender was detained by the police. However, the presidential couple hardly noticed the Femen representatve, since the incident took place behind them. And after voting in the elections, Zelensky took part in his own poll.
On the whole, the communication between the president and the media was not entirely successful. When asked how much would this Five Questions from the President poll cost, Volodymyr Zelenskyy replied: “You will see all the numbers after the report is published.” Answering a question about the relationship between the drop in the rating of Servant of the People and the person of the president, Zelensky seemed to be offended at all. "I am who I am: Volodymyr Zelensky. People voted for such a person, yes" he said. And he added that it would be logical to talk about ratings after the local elections, when we "see everything the numbers."
The President tried to answer several other questions, but due to the shouts of journalists and the traditional hyperactivity of his press secretary, he could not do this. "Unfortunately, you are not interested in my answer. I am grateful to you all. Happy!" Zelensky said and left the polling station.
But the mayor of the capital of Ukraine – one of the most interested participants in the current elections – did not even come to the elections. On the eve of the vote, Vitali Klitschko said that he became ill with the coronavirus and therefore would stay at home. "Today, for the first time in many years, I do not vote in elections. I am treated at home," he reported. "Put on a mask, take an antiseptic, a pen (...) We will overcome everything! Take care of yourself!" Klitschko noted.
By the way, the situation with masks at the polling stations was difficult. But this is far from the only violation recorded by observers.
Against the rules
The violations began the day before - on Saturday. In particular, in Kyiv, the police opened 79 criminal proceedings and drew up 240 protocols. The next day, Sunday, the number of illegal episodes increased significantly.
As of 5 pm on October 25, law enforcement officers fixed 3,323 statements of the violation. “Of these, campaigning on election day concerned 1,310 messages, violation of the secrecy of voting - 154, bribery of voters - 148, illegal destruction of electoral documents - 117, violation of the procedure for maintaining voter registers or election commissions - 110, illegal use of a ballot - 71,” Ministry of Internal Affairs reported.
And according to the Opora network, the most common violations were premature (or, on the contrary, untimely) start of voting, lack of ballot boxes and voting booths, lack of masks and gloves among members of commissions, and, in fact, failure to open polling stations at all. Of the 1,105 polling stations in Kyiv, eight opened late, gathering people in lines.
In addition, Oleksandr Tretyakov charitable foundation, which supported the Udar party in the local elections, gave people masks and wet towel wipes near the polling stations in the Svyatoshyn district of Kyiv. This was regarded by observers as illegal campaigning.
The different situation could be observed in Kharkiv – many members of the electoral commissions failed to wear the masks. According to Chesno movement, members of the commissions who conducting voting outside the voting premises were not even allocated protective suits.
In Zhytomyr, some polling stations in this city did not have voting booths, and in some, they looked quite specific. For example, at polling station No. 181447, which is located in the music hall of a kindergarten, one booth was a puppet theater screen.
Chairman of the local electoral committee, Oksana Plis, explained that the contractor did not manage to manufacture and install the booths on time, so they get out of the situation as best they can.
And another story about Zhytomyr, or rather - about the Zhytomyr region. So-called "merry-go-round voting" took place here, local residents went to Kyiv in order to vote, the law enforcement officers stopped two buses with 130 residents of Zhytomyr region, who were going to the capital to vote. "According to preliminary information, two months ago these citizens presented their passports to a person (pre-established) and received a deposit – 7 USD - for illegal participation in the elections in the capital in the interests of a certain candidate. After the vote, they were promised another 28 USD," said adviser to the Minister of the Interior Zoryan Shkiryak.
By the way, the organizers called "merry-go-round voting" can go to jail for up to ten years. Less severe punishment is provided for those who campaigned for themselves on election day. Among these violators was one of the favorites of the capital's races - Serhiy Prytula. He continued to advertise two of his Facebook posts on September 19 and 20, which he called to support his team in the elections.
Anatoliy Prysyazhnyuk, chairman of the Kyiv regional organization of the Nash Krai party, did the same. He broadcast a message urging people to vote for his party. Vitaliy Druganovskiy, a candidate for mayor of Chernivtsi from the Servant of the People party, also campaigned for himself. Far-right Svoboda, Batkivshchyna, Samopomich were also active in social media too - at the regional level they did not turn off the FB advertising of their candidates despite the requirements of the law.
As for the poll from the president, since it will not have legal consequences, there is no need to talk about violations during it at all. However, it is interesting that Zelensky's volunteers willingly gave people several questionnaires at once, they say, this way the necessary statistics will be provided faster.
Although the experts believe that the necessary statistics of Bankova are already provided and that figures will soon be made public that will testify to the high level of support for the initiative of Volodymyr Zelensky.