How do you have elections during a war?
For months, people in Ukraine have been arguing about whether they should have a presidential election in March next year like they planned or not.
No elections, not even for president, are allowed because the country is under martial law since Russia invaded in February 2022.
A lot of people in Ukraine are upset by the idea because they are worried that having a vote could take attention away from the country’s struggle for survival.
Tensions went down after President Zelensky said in November that it was not the best time for elections.
However, the problem is not finished yet and has caused a big argument in the country, like never before since Russia invaded it.
One of the main reasons for the conflict is not just Ukraine, but the US.
US political parties
US politicians, especially a few in the Republican party, are influencing the conversation about the upcoming 2024 Ukrainian elections, according to Olha Aivazovska, who leads the election monitoring network Opora.
She says that some very conservative Republicans are using the problem as a reason to stop giving military help to Ukraine.
And these sounds are becoming stronger. As Donald Trump’s focus on America’s own interests becomes more important in the Republican party, the support for Ukraine is getting stuck in US political arguments and disagreements between parties.
Many Republicans support Ukraine, but the far-right part of the party might still use this against Ukraine during the next US presidential elections.
They are doing it already. Earlier this month, Vivek Ramaswamy, who wants to be the Republican candidate for president, said that Ukraine is not a good example of democracy and is saying that they won’t have elections this year unless the US gives them more money.
Republican US Senator Lindsey Graham said that Ukraine should have presidential elections in 2024 during his visit to Kyiv in August.
President Zelensky knows he has to deal with the increasing talk from the US. The US is Ukraine’s main friend, and its military help is important for stopping Russia’s attack.
“MrZelensky said in an interview on Ukrainian TV last August that there are several things that can divide US support for Ukraine. ” One thing that worries me is the elections because I heard that some people in the Republican party are against continuing support.
Until now, Mr. Zelensky did not completely say no to the elections. He talked about the difficulties like security, laws, and money, and said he is “prepared” to run for president again if there is a war during the elections.
In a recent interview on Ukrainian TV, Mr. Zelensky said that he wants to have elections within a year or whenever they are needed.
Earlier this month, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Mr. Zelensky was thinking about the advantages and disadvantages of having elections during a time of war.
Backlash within the country.
Even if the government makes changes to the rules to allow elections, there are still many problems that make it hard to hold a vote.
Security is the most important thing.
Olena Shulyak, who leads the Servant of the People party, says it’s not possible to have elections during the war because many of our citizens are either outside the country or have been forced to leave their homes.
“We can’t have elections because we can’t keep our people safe, and our soldiers can’t participate or run for office. ”
Other problems include schools being damaged, an old list of voters, limited rights under military rule, and not enough money.
Specialists say that it’s not possible to have a fair election with competition in the current situation.
In November, a survey done by Kyiv’s International Institute of Sociology found that over 80% of people wanted to wait until the war is over before having elections.
MPs from different political parties say it’s not right to have elections next year.
President Zelensky’s unclear statements about the chance of having elections have caused problems in his own country.
Opposition politicians and news outlets said that the government was getting ready to have a presidential election in 2024. Some politicians said they want to try to become the president.
People were starting to think that President Zelensky might not be as popular because of a situation at the front line. They thought he wanted to have the elections in 2024 as scheduled while he was still well-liked.
President Zelensky said that Ukraine should not have elections right now.
The president gave a speech on TV in early November to stop the rumors. He said it’s not the right time for elections.
“We need to decide that it’s time to defend and fight. The fate of the state and people depends on it,” he said.
When will Ukraine vote for their leaders?
Alina Zagoruyko, an MP and the leader of the group that oversees elections and referendums in parliament, says that Volodymyr Zelensky will still be the rightful president even after his time in office ends next year.
According to Article 108 of Ukraine’s constitution, the current president keeps doing their job until the new president takes over.
“But if the war continues for a long time, then we might have to think about having elections even in difficult conditions,” Ms.
Many politicians and experts believe they should start getting ready for the elections after the war.
Many small towns and villages, such as Bakhmut and Avdiivka, are completely destroyed. Most of the people have either died or moved away from the country. The system for voting in an election is ruined. Organizing elections in those places will be very difficult even when there is no war.