Adam Drnovsky Independent Researcher and Election Observation Officer at the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France
Voting rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine’s elections have become an increasingly relevant topic with the high number of people fleeing from the East of the country and from the Crimean Peninsula after the Russian aggression. The unprecedented number of IDPs exposed Ukraine to many challenges in upholding the rights of these people and ensuring their integration on national and local level. The voting rights of IDPs became particularly affected as a result of gaps and shortcomings in Ukraine’s legislative framework for elections which, in certain areas, is at odds with international standards for democratic elections. This had very concrete implications on the integration of IDPs and national reconciliation in Ukraine for which full participation of IDPs in elections is instrumental. With new elections in sight, there is a chance that Ukrainian lawmakers will address the problematic parts of domestic laws, putting the relevant legal provisions in line with Ukraine’s international commitments for political participation rights of its citizens, including IDPs. There are however many unknowns in this process and it remains to be seen whether IDPs will be able to participate in Ukraine’s upcoming elections.