KYIV, Ukraine, November 1, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
A number of individual election observers have spoken out to say they found the results of the recently concluded parliamentary election in Ukraine to have been valid and legitimate, and reflecting "the will of the people".
The testimony of eyewitness observers, including the former President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, contrasts with more negative and sweeping political statements such as that of U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who claimed on Wednesday that the election was "a step backwards" for democracy.
"I have read a number of remarks about the fairness of last Sunday's parliamentary election in Ukraine, and I noticed that some of them bear little relation to what most actual observers saw as they travelled around the country. There is a difference between some of the rhetoric and what we saw on the ground," said Mevlut Cavusoglu (Turkey), Deputy Head of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Observation Mission and Former PACE President.
"I can say that having visited 15 polling stations in Kharkiv last Sunday, together with my colleague Luca Volonté, head of the EPP Group in PACE, we both found that every single polling station was calm, professionally well organised, transparent in the handling of voters and what we consider a rating of "Very Good," said the former PACE President.
Mr Cavusoglu added that "most observers assessed the elections as Good or Very Good and I think that the will of the people was reflected in these elections."
In Kyiv, the Foreign Ministry said it was "surprised" by Mrs. Clinton's remarks, especially since the results were very close to the results of independent exit polls last Sunday.
"We are surprised at sharply negative assessments of the electoral process in all its stages made by the representatives of the U.S. Department of State and personally by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton," the Foreign Ministry press service said in a statement.
The Ministry said it could not understand "on which sources" Mrs. Clinton and others based their remarks, in particular the claim that the official results announced by the Central Election Commission are allegedly contrary to the results of exit polls.
The results were actually in line with the exit polls, and the opposition did better than the exit polls, analysts noted.
Former French transport minister and independent election observer Thierry Mariani of France also reported seeing "elections in Ukraine that were broadly in line with international democratic standards."
Mr. Mariani headed a delegation of 56 parliamentarians and experts from 14 European countries, of which some 36 members of the delegation were serving European MPs or Senators, with a further 10 former members of parliament.
In recent days senior officials from the OSCE delegation, in presenting their post-election report, have made negative remarks about the pre-election atmosphere, citing issues of transparency and the use of administrative power at a local level.
But analysts note that despite the remarks by Mrs. Clinton, the OSCE Election Day written conclusions were largely positive, and tend to confirm the views of observers who were on the ground.
Although OSCE officials such as Audrey Glover and Walburga Habsburg Douglas made negative remarks about the pre-election atmosphere in Ukraine, the OSCE official report stated that on election day "the voting process was assessed positively in 96 per cent of polling stations observed. It was generally orderly and well organised. In polling stations observed, 73 per cent of PEC chairpersons and 72 per cent of PEC members were women. Proxies were present in 96 per cent of polling stations observed, and domestic observers in 44 per cent."
According to the OSCE report's section on the actual election "international observers reported only isolated instances of serious violations such as proxy voting, multiple voting, or series of seemingly identical signatures on voter lists. The vote count was assessed positively in all but 24 of the 249 polling station where it was observed. PECs generally followed prescribed procedures, although there were some minor procedural problems."