News / Europe

Ukrainian Ruling Party Faces Election Backlash

OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
x
OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
OSCE election observation mission special coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, speaks to the media during a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012.
VOA News

Ukraine's ruling party is facing criticism at home and abroad, even as it appears on course to maintain its majority after Sunday's parliamentary elections.


Jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko announced Monday she is launching a hunger strike to protest the vote.  With about 70 percent of the votes counted, her pro-Western Fatherland Party trails President Viktor Yanukovych's ruling Party of Regions, 34 to 23 percent.

Tymoshenko's lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, read her statement to the press. 

"If I were with you now and had an opportunity to act freely, I would without doubt call on you to stage an indefinite civil disobedience action, and we together would show these forgers their place, as we've done many times in the past. But now, being behind bars, I cannot call on you to come out to the square because I cannot guarantee that such gatherings will be peaceful and well-organized, so I do all I can do under such circumstances: I declare a hunger strike to protest against fake elections and an illegitimate parliament," he read. 

Election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe chastised authorities in Ukraine for their handling of the elections. OSCE mission coordinator Walburga Habsburg Douglas said Sunday's vote constituted "a step backwards," in some ways.

"Considering the abuse of power and an excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine," she said. 

Douglas put much of the blame on the ruling party, which she said used state funds to finance its campaign activities while also controlling the flow of information.

"I do not think that voters should face harassment or intimidation from employers or the government. And one should not have to go to a prison to hear from leading political figures in this country," she said. 

The United States characterized Ukraine's elections in similar terms. A the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said that while Ukraine's elections were peaceful overall, the U.S. is concerned about reports of fraud and falsification of votes. Toner added that the United States shares OSCE's concerns about the government favoring ruling-party candidates and harassing opposition candidates.

In Kyiv, Prime Minister Mykola Azarov dismissed the criticism. "We already know statements from the whole range of election observation missions. Every single one of them is positive. And we hope that as a whole, all those international observers will finish their work with such a positive conclusion," he said. 

Initial results indicate the Communist Party of Ukraine, Yanukovych's parliamentary ally, finished in third place with about 15 percent of the votes.

Earlier Monday, Vice Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko said he was pleased with the outcome. 

"We are satisfied with the results the Party of Regions has received. It's the best result for a ruling party in over 20 years. I think an even more convincing victory will come after all the votes are counted, and the total will give us the chance to become the majority party and continue the reforms we have started," he said. 

Victory for the ruling party will likely cement Yanukovych's leadership status. He is midway through a five-year presidency, marked by an accumulation of presidential powers and antagonism with the West.

Still, the initial results show some newer opposition parties making some gains, including the pro-Western UDAR, or Punch, party, led by world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko. Punch drew about 13 percent of the vote, but even Klitschko is uncertain how much impact his party will have.

"According to the results, opposition forces have gained more then 50 percent. Some suggest 55-57 percent. I'm sure that if not for the new election laws, we could form the majority, impeach today's government and form a coalition government. Also, in the shortest possible time we could decriminalize the law for which the leader of the Fatherland, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Yuri Lutsenko are jailed. But today, new laws on individual races possess a real threat because manipulation is possible, and it is taking place," he said. 

The nationalist Svoboda - Freedom - Party appeared to have won nearly 9 percent of the vote.

The elections for the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, were a huge test for Ukraine's fragile democracy, already overshadowed by the imprisonment of Tymoshenko, who has spent more than a year in prison for abuse of power while in office. She is serving a seven-year sentence.

Voters cast ballots to select party lists to fill half of the parliament seats; the other 225 seats were filled by individual races in geographic constituencies. 

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Breffni from: Bellevue, WA
October 30, 2012 2:06 AM
Have you ever seen such a weak statement: Could not even come up with their own,?? Obamawow
The United States characterized Ukraine's elections in similar terms. A the State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said that while Ukraine's elections were peaceful overall, the U.S. is concerned about reports of fraud and falsification of votes. Toner added that the United States shares OSCE's concerns about the government favoring ruling-party candidates and harassing opposition candidates. Good one Mark Toner??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid