Local elections in Ukraine will be held on October 25. While side actors make their political infrastructure ready, others have completed the warm up.
Mid July, classified ads appeared on social media sites of Odessa. Therein USD 250 was offered to people who are willing to register as (technical) candidate for coming elections. And they would have to change their name temporarily to Princess Leia, Wookiee, Han Solo or the like. Darth Vader (IPU, Internet Party of Ukraine) is said to be behind the ‘job offer’. (Izbir, June 22)
Darth Vader dresses up like the character from Star Wars and avoids to make policy-relevant statements. Past campaigns indicate a decent budget, so there is reason to believe that he is a technical candidate himself. Or for sale.
One of the features of Ukrainian politics is the trade of parties. Buying instead of founding a party is a administrative shortcut and common practice. It’s also a method to buy political representation. A recent report notes:
The market of political parties went agile shortly after Ukraine’s parliament adopted a law on local elections. Political technologist Andrey Zolotaryov said the parties may come in handy for those who put a stake on local projects. (Tass, July 30 / Vesti)
Coming elections are likely to become a competition between candidates of the ruling coalition and candidates of UKROP. UKROP is a new party (founded in June), it includes well known personnel, it mobilizes against the ruling coalition and it is said to be financed by Ihor Kolomoyskyi, an oligarch and rival of President Poroshenko. Bottom line: Kolomoyskyi vs Poroshenko. A prelude took place some days ago.
On July 26, special parliamentary elections were held in Chernihiv. While campaigning, both sides accused each other to buy votes, to confuse voters with technical candidates and so on. (Globalpost, July 28 and Foreign Policy, July 29)
Freedom House observed
serious electoral irregularities before and after the vote […] Threats of violence, attempts to buy votes, interference by pseudo-journalists, and intimidation by thugs all marred the campaign and voting in Chernihiv. With important local-level elections planned for October, Freedom House urges the Ukrainian authorities to aggressively respond to irregularities to prevent a repeat of events seen in Chernihiv. (Freedom House, July 27)
Poroshenko called the election a ‘disgrace’. Nevertheless, his man has won.