Six months before the next local elections political parties and local politicians are in full pre-election campaign mode. In a number of regions oblast and rayon party organizations held congresses, which handled personnel issues relating to preparations for local elections (Volyn oblast - Petro Poroshenko Block, Radical Party of Oleh Liashko, Rivne oblast - PPB, Kirovohrad oblast - PPB, People's Front, the Radical Party, Kherson oblast - PPB, NF, Lviv oblast - PPB).
The most active work in preparation for the election is conducted by Petro Poroshenko Block and Samopomich Union. There are public receptions of PPB working in 11 oblasts and public receptions of Samopomich - in 9 oblasts. PPB and Samopomich organize different mass events: cleaning areas - Kirovohrad, Ternopil, Chernivtsi, Sumy, Rivne oblasts; planting wayside trees – Ternopil oblast; children's art exhibitions – Vinnytsia oblast, fundraising for equipment for children's hospitals – Volyn oblast, charity events - Kirovohrad oblast. In Cherkassy and Lviv oblast Samopomich advertises their activities under the brand of NGO with the same name. The Radical Party and the Opposition bloc held a regional tour of leaders in most oblasts. Regional tours of the Opposition bloc leaders are followed with a number of conflicts. In particular, local activists of Rzhyschiv city disrupted the action of the Opposition bloc on planting trees at the “Alley of Peace” and planted instead the alley themselves and dedicated it to the heroes who died for Ukraine. In Chernivtsi city activists organized a picket against the visit of MP from the Opposition bloc M. Papiev. The leaders of regional organizations of VO Batkivschyna actively criticize central and local authorities (Volyn, Mykolaiv, Sumy, Cherkasy oblasts; organizing a march against raising tariffs for housing in Dnepropetrovsk).
Help for ATO soldiers and for volunteers is a top topic of messages of the most parties. Parties focused their activities on such actions: fundraising and humanitarian aid, visiting families of dead soldiers and providing them with financial support; procurement of military ammunition for ATO soldiers; organizing centres for psychological and legal assistance (in particular, in registration of land parcels).
On the eve of Easter most political parties conducted different events to support the army. For example, sending Easter cakes and Easter eggs organized by Batkivschyna in Chernivtsi oblast and by NGO “People's Front of Youth”; action “Easter for soldier” conducted by PPB in Kherson oblast; installation of 14 four-meter high crosses along the front line from Mariupol to Stanytsia Luhanska with the support of Samopomich etc. Activities for support of ATO are usually held not by parties directly but with their support or with support of local deputies or ordinary party members. An example of such “support” is the conflict over transferring of a thermal imaging device to ATO soldiers by Ternopil branch of PPB. Civil society organizations have accused MP from PPB in self-promotion as funds for the thermal imaging device were collected by local residents.
There were no examples of actions in support of ATO soldiers from the Opposition bloc. However, local branches of the political party help IDPs from the ATO area (food, clothing). Besides, there are examples that some regional organizations of the Opposition Bloc (Zakarpattia organization) use the topic of ATO in their propaganda, saying that “deceived with promises ATO participants” are going to become party members.
The most common ways to work with voters are opening public receptions and mass events. Educational and raising awareness work with voters is also getting popular (Samopomich conducts seminars for residents on issues of local public services and amenitie, organizes free English language courses in Odesa oblast; Batkivschyna in Odesa oblast provides consultations for citizens on how to apply for subsidies, the party Volia in Rivne oblast implements the project “National candidates pool”, “Leadership School” in Dubno of Rivne region was established by initiative of PPB deputy). In addition, most parties place materials looking like sponsored in the local media (the most active is the Opposition bloc in Dnipropetrovsk oblast).
Outdoor advertising is hardly ever used by political parties (an exception is billboard campaign of PPB and of the party “New Faces” in Kyiv oblast, as well as campaign of a number of civil associations (“We are Kyivans”), which can transform into political parties before the election.
In some oblasts the process of establishing so called regional parties was started. His intention to establish a regional party has announced the mayor of Kharkiv H. Kernes. In Cherkasy oblast the intention to create a “political party of Cherkasy” was announced by the “Unity of local communities – Cherkasers”, which consists of local politicians and owners of agricultural holdings in the oblast. In some oblasts there are active civil associations that may participate in electoral process by transforming into political parties or supporting existing parties or candidates. For example “Community Development”, “People's Self-Defense” and “Alternative” (Lviv oblast), Association “Cleansing” (Severodonetsk), the movement “We are Kyivans” (Kyiv), the initiative “Hometown, homeland” (Poltava oblast). The active work in preparation for local elections in Odesa oblast is held the party “Doviriay dilam” (Trust actions), the name of which is similar to the pre-election slogan of Odesa mayor H. Trukhanov. This party emerged on the base of the party “Rural Ukraine”, which in turn was renamed from the “Communist Party of labors”.
No activities at the local level are performed by recently registered political parties. During 2014-2015 66 new parties were established in Ukraine; 39 - in 2014 and 27 - in 2015. However, on average 5-7 parties are usually registered in Ukraine per year. Most of the newly established parties do not make any information work at local level, they have no mentions in local media and they haven’t started their active work.
1. CVU supposes it would be appropriate to return the option of creating blocs of local parties organizations at local elections to legislation. The threshold for blocks should set at 5%. The return of such norm will facilitate the process of reunion of small parties, reducing the number of participants in the electoral process and representation of national minorities in local self-government authorities.
2. Considering soon local elections CVU calls on political parties and local politicians to refuse from using party symbols and slogans in activities related to helping ATO participants.
3. CVU appeals to leaders of political parties, factions which are members of the parliamentary coalition to express their clear position on the need for elections of Kyiv mayor and Kyiv city council to stop any speculations on this topic.