A voter in the 2007 parliamentary elections in Ukraine. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Russianname (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Freedom House Rating
October 25, 2020
By October 29, 2023
March/April 2024 (due)
July 21, 2019
March 3, 2019 (Second round: April 21, 2019)
October 25, 2015
Ukraine held local elections on October 25, 2020. Mayoral runoffs in some cities will take place on November 15, and the rest will happen on November 22.
These elections are happening in the context of a hybrid war that Russia is waging on Ukraine – currently in its seventh year – and Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Since the 2013-2014 Euromaidan protests that ousted pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych from office, Ukraine has been implementing a series of reforms and making progress toward a stronger democracy. Nonetheless, many issues remain – notably endemic corruption.
In the local elections, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his party sought to consolidate power further, after victories in recent presidential and legislative elections. Zelenskyy, a former actor and comedian, won the 2019 presidential election by a landslide, trouncing incumbent Petro Poroshenko and political veterans such as former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, as well as the pro-Russian Opposition Platform, currently led by oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk, who is a close associate of Vladimir Putin.
Zelenskyy had not had any previous experience in politics, but more than half the country had watched his satirical television show “Servant of the People.” Naturally, he named his party after his TV show. Servant of the People subsequently swept the parliamentary elections to win an unprecedented majority. More than half of its MPs are new to politics.
However, the local elections dealt an electoral setback to Zelenskyy. Ukraine’s traditional political forces – specifically Opposition Platform, Tymoshenko’s Fatherland, and Poroshenko’s European Solidarity, as well as oligarch Igor Kolomoisky’s For Future – did well. Moreover, former boxer Vitali Klitschko won re-election as mayor of Kyiv.
Curated News and Analysis
Kateryna Semchuck, openDemocracy (November 13, 2020): In Ukraine, local elections legitimise a new political system – and the old faces behind it
Brian Mefford, Atlantic Council (November 13, 2020): Ukrainian local elections: City-by-city guide to this weekend’s runoff votes
Sasha Borovik, New Europe (October 30, 2020): The honeymoon was short for Zelensky as Ukraine voted in local elections
RFE/RL (October 26, 2020): Monitors Say Ukraine’s Local Vote Was Generally Transparent, Cite ‘Widespread’ Allegations Of Vote-Buying
112 Ukraine (October 26, 2020): Klitschko wins in Round 1 of Kyiv mayor election, – parallel vote count
AFP (October 25, 2020): Ukraine’s Zelensky suffers setback in local elections
BNE Intellinews (October 15, 2020): Zelenskiy launches poll ahead of regional elections in controversial move that captures news agenda
Anna Peshkova, 112Ukraine: All-Ukrainian poll on local election day: What questions Zelensky should ask Ukrainians on October 25?
Bohdan Nahaylo, Atlantic Council (October 13, 2020): Ukraine’s pro-Russian forces plotting winter of discontent
Taras Kuzio, Atlantic Council (August 20, 2020): Vladimir Putin’s forever war against Ukraine continues
The Economist (August 24, 2018): Politics surpasses satire in Ukraine
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Updated November 15, 2020