Since 1994, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has played a key role in the emergence of democratic electoral processes and institutions in Ukraine. Over the last two decades, IFES has developed a reputation as a reliable source for impartial analysis and high-quality technical assistance in the fields of electoral and political finance law reform, election administration, civil society capacity building and public opinion research. Building on this experience, IFES is working to promote good governance and democratic rights in Ukraine’s shifting political landscape.
Electoral and Political Finance Law Reform
IFES’ work on electoral legal issues focuses on promoting inclusive dialogue among stakeholders and providing technical assistance in the development of legislation that is consistent with international and European standards. Key initiatives include:
- Working with civil society partners, the Government of Ukraine and key parliamentary committees to draft political finance legislation that established, for the first time, an effective disclosure and oversight regime. The legislation was adopted in October 2015.
- Establishing an Election Reform Group to bring together civil society organizations (CSOs) to strengthen their influence in policy debates. Members of the Election Reform Group have developed joint proposals and advocated specific reforms of election-related legislation, including laws governing different kinds of elections, political finance, and voter bribery.
Strengthening the Central Election Commission (CEC)
Strengthening the capacity of the CEC to effectively administer transparent and credible elections is a core component of IFES’ work. Examples of IFES’ efforts to build the CEC’s capacity include:
- Providing technical support that led to the establishment of the permanent CEC in 1998. IFES was also instrumental in the formation of a dedicated Training Unit within the CEC in 2013.
- Implementing election administration trainings to institutionalize best practices and standards, including trainings that reached 25,755 District and Precinct Election Commissioners (18,562 women and 7,213 men) ahead of the October 2014 parliamentary elections. For the October 2015 local elections, 670 upper-level Territorial Election Commissions (100%) and 9,095 lower-level Territorial Election Commissions (92%) participated in pre-election trainings, totaling over 35,000 Commissioners.
Civil Society Capacity Building
Recognizing the challenge that civil society sometimes faces to develop and articulate common priorities and impactful approaches, IFES has fostered the development of a range of civil society actors capable of contributing meaningfully to policy dialogue on electoral issues. In this area, IFES’ achievements include:
- Since 2011, holding regular pre-election trainings to educate civil society representatives and journalists in the regions on the electoral law and procedures, as well as on their roles in elections.
- Employing parallel expense tracking methodology, which engaged CSOs in campaign finance monitoring in 2012 and 2015. IFES also worked with groups in the Chesno Civic Movement to develop voluntary campaign finance disclosure guidelines that were adopted by five leading candidates prior to the May 2014 presidential election.
- Implementing election schools that focused on the relationship between electoral system design and gender inequalities in political life. Election school participants, many of whom are gender activists, have gone on to conduct regional trainings on election law and campaign practices for women candidates.
Public Opinion Research
Since 1994, IFES has conducted 25 nationwide public opinion surveys in the country, examining socio-political issues and attitudes towards elections and democracy among other topics, which has greatly assisted in guiding IFES programming and providing valuable data to donors, researchers, and other stakeholders. IFES also conducts targeted opinion research and focus groups, focusing on specific issues and audiences, including election officials, women and disability rights groups.