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The electoral farce of seat 205 – Desnyanskiy (Chernigov)

July 27, 2015

Having entered into a voluntary state of “purdah” relating to the election that took place yesterday for seat 205, Desnyanskiy district in Chernigov, that self-imposed silence, post polls closing, can now be lifted.

So having expected a complete farce as soon as it became clear more than two months ago that this election seat was little more than a proxy fight between President Poroshenko and Ihor Kolomoisky backed candidates, has it turned out to be the expected proxy battle and associated farce?

Undoubtedly so.

To begin with there were 127 candidates registered to fight for this seat.  Seven of those were political party candidates, whilst the rest were “self nominees”, a large number of which were “technical candidates” put forward to split voters loyal to one or another of the “favourites” to win.

Indeed, on election day itself, 36 candidates canceled their participation whilst obviously still being upon the printed ballot.  That left 84 “self-nominees” and the 7 political party candidates.

Of these 7 candidates, two have been the front-runners.  In the Kolomoisky corner sits Gennady Korban and in the Poroshenko corner, Sergei Berezenko.

205From the very start of each of the campaigning in District 205, both candidates and campaigns have continually wiped their feet upon the electoral laws of Ukraine and continued to do so to the point that even a few weeks ago, so many electoral violations were so blatantly obvious as to concluded the entire process severely compromised.

As of election day however, a mere 27 electoral law transgressions had been officially recorded – despite dozens more being apparent to anybody that has been monitoring events.  To say this election has been a farce is to be too kind – it has been nothing short of a criminal farce, surpassing the usual nefariousness associated with hotly contested single majority seats in Ukrainian elections.

Bribery, coercion, fake seals, large scale candidate drop outs on polling day etc., – hardly meet any parameters that would suggest a free and fair election.  Voting day may have been free, but preceding events were certainly not fair, nor were they within the Ukrainian electoral laws – indeed many occurrences are expressly prohibited by the Ukrainian electoral laws.

Ballot

That all observers (worthy of the name) anticipated this farce as long ago as May – as any proxy battle between Ihor Kolomoisky and the President was bound to end up – should raise questions as to why such a farce was allowed to manifest, almost without limitation, by the authorities from the very outset of the election campaigning.

That (probably with the tacit approval or by discrete request) Governor Saakashvili arrived late into the campaigning to support the President’s man, Mr Berezenko, to be met in an unnecessarily ugly face to face by Ihor Kolomoisky’s MP Boris Filatov supporting Mr Korban, when the election was already a farce beyond doubt, raises questions of sound leadership, situational awareness, and domestic/international perception.  A polished turd remains a turd, no matter who polishes it.

Yet another (and completely avoidable) proxy battle between Mr Kolomoisky and the President now wages via Messrs Saakashvili and Filatov.

As of the time of writing, exit polls have the President’s man, Mr Berezenko winning with 31.4% of the vote vis a vis Mr Kolomoisky’s man Mr Korban sitting on 17.1%.  Whatever the voting results however, the 27 (and growing) officially recorded electoral violations must be investigated, and this public farce cannot be undone easily.

The question is now whether the CEC of its own volition (or via encouragement from upon high) will declare the election invalid – or not.

The President, despite clearly wanting to beat Mr Kolomoisky in this proxy battle (seemingly to the point of allowing the electoral laws to be flouted almost daily) after such a farce needs to lift himself above this squalid political display and odious disregard for electoral law – and there is seemingly only one way to do that, even if at the expense of “his candidate” and the result.

There is a requirement now for the President to rise above this mess and insist that each and every electoral law transgression is met with the full force and by the letter of the electoral law.  Those guilty have to be held accountable – including his own candidate who has hardly distinguished himself.

That almost certainly means a new election – but if the rule of law is to be respected, the President wants to restore his image after allowing this farce to occur (and his candidate to run amok), and given the gross violations of the electoral law that have occurred, then so be it.

The President needs to have one eye on the local elections taking place nationally in October, elections that have just as much chance of such electoral irregularities and criminality occurring as has just been witnessed in  Chernigov wherever a majority single mandate seat presents itself.

In fact the local elections provide a perfect opportunity for this farce to be corrected with a simultaneous re-run of this election taking place.

The question now facing the CEC, the President’s party, and ultimately the President, is whether to accept a clearly corrupted, grubby single seat win at the very public expense of the rule of law being seen to be applied.

Insuring the rule of law is fully applied now, and any offenders receive punishments as proscribed within the law, may yet set the tone for the local elections in a more positive light.  Surely accepting a grubby little win in over a solitary seat now, will set a poor precedent for what follows in October.

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