Sunday, March 26, 2006

Election Day: Organization

Polls open as Ukraine votes for new Parliament

Ukraine goes to the polls to elect new Parliament. Under changes to Ukraine's Constitution Ukraine will move from a Presidential Democracy to a Parliamentary Democracy with most power and responsibility for government to be decided by a majority of elected Parliamentarians.

To date the organization of the election has been well managed with not reports of intimidation or harassment.

independent Observation of polling places has met with approval and satisfaction. There are reports of some minor issues but overall the standard and conduct of the campaign has been exemplary and a far cry from the allegation of corruption made in December 2004 Presidential election.

Voters attend their assigned polling place and have there name marked off the voters list and are required to sign next to their name before being handed ballot papers.

One criticism is that there was not enough secret voting compartments allocated with voters filling in their ballot papers in the open to save time and avoid delays. In all cases where this has been reported there was no complaint of voter intimidation or unwanted breach of voter secrecy.

As at 5Pm today voter turn out was around 40% with a further 5 hours of voting remaining. Scrutineers were expecting a rush of voters in the evening and it was anticipated that around 70-80 percent of registered voters will cast their ballot. This is lower then expected (Pre-Election polls indicated that around 90 percent of registered voters would turn out to cast their vote) A low voter turnout traditionally goes against the government and favours opposition parties. In any event a turn out of 70% or more is a good outcome well above the participation rate of the United States (45%) and comparable with other western Countries such as Australia where the voter participation rate is around 75%.

Further organisational problems were expected as late voters scramble to cast their ballot before the close of polls. Polling Closes at 10PM tonight.

Daylight Savings (Summer Time) Started today and their has been some minor confusion as some people have not adjusted their clocks.

IN speaking to Party Scrutineers most observers expect that Minor Parties will not fare so well with only 6 or seven blocks securing the 3% threshold to representation in the new Parliament.

The Main players in order of expected support (Highest to lowest) is Party of Regions (26-32%) Yulia Tymoshenko (18-24%) Our Ukraine (13-18%) with Socialists, Communists and Lytvyn Block securing around 4-5% each. It is unknown if the National Opposition Block will secure the required 3% but some observers think they will. Those failing to secure support are PORA, Green Party, Ne Tak and Party Viche.

Polling closes at 10PM and first reports from scrutineers are expected to be released two hours later with final results not expected until Tuesday next week.

Further report as information comes to hand.