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The government decided to camouflage the protest sentiments of voters by eliminating the tick box labeled “Against All” in voting ballots. The ballots for voting in national districts do not contain the line item “I do not support candidates representing any political party”, Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych announced as he presented the concept of the president’s electoral bill to the press.
In addition, the ballot for voting in a single-mandate district does not contain the item “I do not support a single candidate”.
In the opinion of experts, there is nothing odd about such a decision. The notion of “Against all” has long disturbed many ambitious politicians. The “Against all” box became a major pain in the neck for the incumbent government during the local elections last fall, when more than 7% of Ukrainians that turned out to vote at local polling stations did not support a single candidate. Most irritatingly, a considerable number of protest voters were observed in the oblasts traditionally supporting the Party of Regions. For example, in Donetsk 13.03% of the city’s electorate voted “against all” in the mayoral elections.
Political scientists are also arguing whether the last line item in the voting ballots needs to be eliminated or not. “Those who want to protest can simply not turn up at the polling stations. Eliminating this line item will stimulate those who showed up to vote to make up their mind and choose from among the runners,” says Director of Political and Legal Programs at the Razumkov Center Yuriy Yakymenko.
Conversely, Director of the Penta Center for Applied Political Studies Volodymyr Fesenko believes the current approach of the government is aimed at camouflaging the rise in the protest sentiments of the voter.
“In Russia this line item was stricken from voting ballots several years back after in a number of voting districts the number of people that voted against all exceeded the results of the winner. [In Ukraine], those voting against all have not yet outnumbered those who support a party. However, opinion polls show that the number of voters that do not support a single party is on the rise,” the political scientist noted. “This situation bothers the government as the result can appear to be counter-productive from the moral point of view. If it turns out in an election that a lion’s share of the electorate votes against all political forces, it will become glaringly obvious that not all is in order in the system of governance and that the system lacks legitimacy”.
That the elimination of “against all” is therefore van be viewed as an attempt to mask the growing discontent of the people with the government’s reforms. Now the “absolute protesting electorate” will either vote by not turning in or show up at the ballot stations to publicly tear up the ballots.Printable version