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IDP Voting – Seemingly a political dilemma for Ukraine

September 19, 2015

With the 25th October elections just over a month away, it raises certain questions over the ability to vote for the one million plus internally displaced persons within Ukraine that have been subjected to Kremlin aggression within The Donbas and sought safety within the rest of the nation.

The Constitution of Ukraine is quite clear regarding their right to vote:

Article 38. Citizens have a right to take part in the management of state affairs, in all Ukrainian and local referendums, freely to elect and be select in public and organs of local self-government authorities.

Yet there are some prickly and as yet unresolved technical, but mostly political questions to answer.  Certainly the 3 draft laws currently pending Rada deliberation (Bill 2501, Bill 2501-1 and Bill 2501-2) that seek to address this issue in various ways, do not necessarily fully incorporate nor accommodate the text or the spirit of the Constitution.

Naturally as is the usually paranoid mindset within the feckless political class of Ukraine, the issue of voter fraud and shenanigans ranks highly.  1 million plus, unevenly displaced Ukrainian citizens that hail from the traditionally Party of Regions, now Opposition Block stronghold of The Donbas voting in various local communities across the nation may sway outcomes.  A somewhat detached view perhaps when considering the fact that the vast majority of these unfortunate people probably have far greater issues to worry about than voting in local elections that do not set or sway meaningful national policy.

What outcome swaying percentage of IDPs the political class are expecting to vote that will actually change the results in local districts, towns or cities is unclear – as is whether these people will be able to vote at all.

It is not difficult to pooh-pooh the idea of a last minute flooding of a certain local community to warp an electoral result.   It takes a few weeks to get on the electoral register in normal circumstances, with an IDP certificate probably longer.  A last minute flood would need to be more of a preplanned seepage.   What length of time within the paranoid political class would dismiss the idea of electoral fraud by flooding a certain local constituency with IDPs “at the last minute to warp the ballot box outcomes”?  Are there enough IDPs that bothered about local elections to even try?

There is also an obvious undercurrent in political thinking that although these elections are being held nationally, the elections are about local governance.  Therefore can or should those who are not local constituents be allowed to vote and possibly sway outcomes -especially in closely contested communities?

Such thinking would tend to suggest that the political class fully expect the IDPs to return to The Donbas,  but will they, and if so, in what number?

The very fact that these 1 million plus IDPs are scattered across Ukraine and have not remained in The Donbas or headed into Russia would indicate that choices were made by these people and Ukraine (for all its faults) was preferred over “People’s Republics” and the Russian Federation.  Political Trojan horses for the Kremlin the vast majority clearly are not.  Solid Ukrainian citizens the vast majority are.

no-votingThat some have been IDPs for more than 18 months also raises the question of any return to The Donbas for many, having been gone so long and having started to establish new lives elsewhere in Ukraine.  After 18 months, are they not therefore part of the local communities in which they have now settled and thus with as much moral and legal right to vote for their local governance as the born and bred voting constituency?

What do the political class expect these people to return to in the near term that any votes they may cast will distort local election outcomes in the immediate?

The Minsk II agreement if implemented will insure a Kremlin loyal political class within The Donbas, with minor political runners and major political riders being at the very least FSB cleared to assume a minor political role, and given the approving Kremlin nod for a significant political role.  Such is the dire state of the “People’s Republics” administration, armies of military “volunteers” are being augmented by Russian bureaucrats attempting to create a functioning political and administrative structure.  Minsk II also paves the way to institutionalise the swivel-eyed and distinctly criminal into the rule of law Donbas institutions.

Undoubtedly those deemed to loony for the “rule of law” institutions of the “People’s Republics” will end up in the “security companies” that will inevitably spring up (as in the 1990’s) under the guidance of the Donbas Dons such as “Koss” Lyashko and “Little George” Ivanyuschenko who are uncomfortably close to Rinat Akhmetov.  Deals will be need to be cut with either Surkov or Volodin in Moscow, depending upon whose puppets in The Donbas eventually take control.

The “People’s Republics” are not economically viable, much of the infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed beyond repair and Ukraine is not in a position to continue to heavily subsidise the coal and metals industries anyway.

In fact even the most retarded can see that Ukraine has little choice but to privatise hundreds of loss making State owned entities, stop all subsidies and dramatically reduce public expenditure if it is to survive (and in doing so also combat corruption), and that puts energy, (gas, coal and electricity), together with metals, squarely in the frame – sad as it may appear for The Donbas that has been heavily subsidy reliant since independence.

If any of the aforementioned are even in part responsible for an IDP becoming an IDP, then they are not about to return home in huge numbers just because the shooting stops.  All other lawlessness will remain and the Kremlin hand will be there for all to see (and The Kremlin fist to feel if necessary), and the nature of the local economy will either adapt or die.

It follows therefore that many IDPs will not be in any rush to return for no matter how well (or not) they are coping across Ukraine currently, the probability/possibility of a frozen conflict and a Transnistrian outcome with far less rule of law, and what there will be will be dispensed by those you fled from, is hardly likely to appeal more than their current circumstances.

The question is then whether of the very small percentage of IDPs that will actually vote,  should only registered IDPs should be allowed to vote outside the local communities in which they permanently are registered in The Donbas, or whether those that moved to family and friends outside the occupied territories of The Donbas without the need to register can vote too?

Does it really matter to people with far bigger issue to deal with – particularly when it is clear that yet more local elections will occur nationally 2 years hence when the “Special Law” relating to The Donbas expires?  Whatever the electoral outcomes, it seems they can be changed in a relatively short time, but another 2 years is certainly time enough for IDPs to no longer be considered IDPs as far as community inclusions is perceived.

There is certainly no rush within the Rada to address this prickly and politically difficult issue despite there only being little more than a month until election day yet the longer the delay in addressing the issue, the more difficult it will be for the regional election committees to accommodate any legislative outcomes.

Official voters lists do not write themselves and anybody expecting a rushed but seamless integration of existing voters lists and lists of IDPs will surely expect too much.

That the 25th October local elections would be held on that date has been long known.  That there are more than a million Ukrainian citizens displaced within Ukraine has been long known.  That constitutionally they have the right to vote is long known – so why this prickly political issue has not been dealt with transparently and in all fairness to the voter, the election commission and with regard to the constitution already, rather that being left ever-closer to election day seems a reasonable question for a political class of all stripes that claims democracy as the destination of Ukraine.

Of course, theoretically, should any specific legislation be passed regarding the voting rights of IDPs temporarily displaced to vote for their temporary local leadership, it does open up the possibility of those same temporarily displaced voting for their permanent leadership within the “People’s Republics”, and the possibility of temporarily displaced candidates standing within their permanent constituencies – which would theoretically put the political cat amongst the electoral pigeons as Minsk specifies elections within the “Republics” are to be carried out within Ukrainian law.

Whatever answer comes is likely to be contentious, but a timely answer is deserved.

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