Short and genuinely sweet tweet yesterday from Ukraine’s Foreign Minister.
As per @Gryshchenko on twitter yesterday evening:
“А зранку підписав листа на адресу Бюро демократичних інститутів та прав людини ОБСЄ із запрошенням направити спостерігачів на парл. вибори.”
In a nutshell, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Mr Greshchenko, invited foreign international observers for the October 2012 elections.
To do so six months ahead of the election is actually a very positive sign. As I won’t be invited to be such an observer, probably because I am no longer registered with the various agencies to do so, that does not mean I won’t be observing.
In fact I will be observing what most election monitors won’t be, and that is the media time and media weight, televised, radio, big-board advertising and electioneering tents and events et al in the months preceding election day.
Undoubtedly there will be violations on election day, as a violation can be something as simple as leaving a photograph on a wall that technically should be removed in a scene of absolute neutrality. Whilst a violation and being recorded as such, it is not exactly an electoral game-changer.
Hundreds of minor violations occur in most national elections in most nations in the world when sticking to the exact letter of the law. I was once sent to a small market town called Selby in the county of North Yorkshire to monitor a polling station there and it is fair to say that there were minor violations there too, (duly recorded of course), but none were sufficient to change the outcome or atmosphere of the voting on the day.
What can make a disproportionate difference is the few months of media campaigning far in advance of the election day itself. That can make a significant difference to “fairness” which is obviously the twin of “free” in the “free and fair” phrase so often employed with electioneering.
For those resident in Ukraine, such things are fairly simple to quantify even across the large amount of national and local channels. It takes only a stop-watch, the ability to sit in front of the television or listen to the radio and write down who gets what media time in the lead up to the election.
Whilst 90 days of such monitoring will be mind-numbing in the extreme, possibly to the point that removing your own eyes with a spoon would be preferable, it is something quite easily done otherwise, and something I will attempt to do across random channels on random days, without driving myself to dive from my balcony and dash my head on the rocks below.
(OK, the beach is about 250 meters away, so I would dash my head on the tarmac car park below, but that sounds far less romantic and idyllic for the outcome such insanity continued media monitoring over those 90 days would undoubtedly cause.)
Of course, if the election monitoring agencies are reading this blog entry (and some possibly will be considering I still get emails requesting observers in remote parts of Africa and Asia that suggest my submission of interest should I wish to go), then I may be open to monitoring in Ukraine.
Quite obviously given the content of this blog, I have equal disdain for all major political figures and their parties, so as such, I remain without vested interest. At the end of the day it is policy and not political party that really counts.
However, it is quite unlikely I will be asked if I am interested because I live here when looking through the lens from an international observer agency. It is equally improbable through the lens of a domestic observer as I am not a citizen of Ukraine.
The readers of this blog in Ukraine, citizens or not, can monitor the media time each party gets and we can work out for ourselves, regardless of the official election observers reports after the election, whether the lengthy official prelude to election day was indeed “fair” or there abouts.
Wouldn’t that be fun? – No, thought not – But you can do it if you are that way inclined none the less, as media monitoring really is quite simple to do.