Ukraine's presidential election: democracy means democracy

Ukraine's presidential election: democracy means democracy

According to preliminary data, Volodymyr Zelensky is the next president of Ukraine. The Ukrainians elected him consciously, freely and democratically.

With over 99% of ballots counted as of 14:30 on April 22, showman Volodymyr Zelensky wins the second round of the 2019 presidential election with 73.22% of the vote. The incumbent head of state, Petro Poroshenko, receives 24.46%. The voter turnout in the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine reached 62.09%, a bit lower than in the first round.

In his speech after polling stations were closed and the first exit poll results were announced, Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Ukrainians and his family for their support. "I thank the Ukrainians who supported me and the Ukrainians who made a different choice. I promise you all that I will never let you down," Zelensky said.

Petro Poroshenko, in turn, accepted the will of the people and congratulated the opponent. This is a European style - to greet the winner immediately after the exit polls, without waiting for the announcement of official election results by the CEC. This is what has been going on for decades in countries with a developed democracy, and this is what is building a bridge not only between the two people who were coming to victory but also between their supporters.

Addressing foreign journalists, Poroshenko said: "I want to thank you for such great attention to the elections in Ukraine. I am very glad that they were held freely, fairly and democratically." There is no doubt that Ukraine has introduced a new high standard for a democratic electoral race. I accept the will of the Ukrainian people."

He also said he was ready to help the new head of state in all of his decisions, which would be in line with the national interests of Ukraine and bring the country closer to the European Union and NATO. In all other things, according to Poroshenko, the new president will face strong opposition. Zelensky responded with restraint: "Poroshenko offered me his help. If I need it, I'll definitely call him. Why not?"

According to Secretary of the Central Election Commission Natalia Bernatska, the CEC received no complaints about the holding of the election process. The absence of large-scale violations during the second round of elections was also confirmed by law enforcement officers. This was stated by First Deputy Interior Minister Serhiy Yarovy.

Minor violations were still recorded. At some polling stations, blank sheets of paper were thrown into ballot boxes, and, on the contrary, there were attempts to bring ballot papers out of polling stations. There were also situations when voters tried to eat, tear off or publicly demonstrate ballot papers. By the way, Volodymyr Zelensky personally received a protocol on administrative offense for the demonstration of his ballot paper. Head of Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council Hlib Pryhunov was also fined for showing his ballot.

In general, the CEC noted the proper security level of the voting process. According to Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Liudmyla Denisova, the number of reports from citizens about the violation of their electoral rights has halved compared to the first round. Representatives of the Verkhovna Rada human rights commissioner also did not detect any violations at special polling stations in the Joint Forces Operation area where servicemen voted during the second round of elections.

International observers think that the second round of presidential elections in Ukraine on April 21 was well-organized, and minor violations recorded could not affect election results. "The 2019 presidential election in Ukraine was competitive and held with respect for fundamental freedoms. The orderly transfer of power should offer the opportunity for strengthening democratic institutions and their accountability," George Tsereteli, Special Coordinator and leader of the OSCE short-term observer mission, said at a briefing on Monday, April 22. According to him, the runoff was well-organized, despite operational challenges and a limited timeframe.

Western commentators also emphasize that the elections were held in accordance with democratic standards. "Ukraine today again validated its democratic credentials. It deserves the West's support," former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Steven Pifer wrote on Twitter.

So, it can be admitted that in some way these presidential elections are still reminiscent of U.S. elections. We have gone through this difficult path. But the main achievement of this extremely tense race is that the elections were fair - dirty, but fair. This is extremely important for further evolution. We must remember that success is not final and defeat is not fatal. The only thing that matters is the courage and perseverance to continue what has already begun - the course for a strong European, free and democratic Ukraine.

Maryna Nechyporenko, Kyiv

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