On October 17, the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center held a panel discussion about Ukraine’s upcoming October 28 parliamentary (Verkhovna Rada) elections.

The country’s trajectory in the last two years has been, by most accounts, away from Europe and democracy. Many Western analysts are concerned with how these elections will be conducted. The manner in which the Rada elections take place and their outcome will have an impact on the country’s relationship with the United States and Europe. Given that Ukraine will assume the position of chairman-in-office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next year, the elections may have broader Euro-Atlantic implications as well. 

The campaign is primarily between four contestants: the Party of Regions (PRU), which currently dominates both the parliament and the executive; a united opposition that consists of several parties, the largest among them- Batkivshchyna (Fatherland), led by former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko; the Communists (PRU’s main allies); and the UDAR, led by boxing champion Vitaly Klitchko.

The discussants focused on the electorate, the campaign, the context in which the election takes place, and what to expect.

A discussion with 

David J. Kramer
Freedom House 

Stephen B. Nix
Regional Director, Eurasia
International Republican Institute (IRI) 

Laura Jewette
Regional Director, Eurasia
National Democratic Institute (NDI)

Eugeniusz Smolar
Foreign Policy Analyst
Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) [via Skype]

Viorel Ursu
Senior Policy Analyst for Eastern Europe
Open Society Institute

Moderated by 

Ross Wilson
Director, Patriciu Eurasia Center
Atlantic Council

Steve Nix is IRI’s Eurasia regional director where he oversees programs in Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyz Republic, Moldavia, Russia, and Ukraine. Previously, he served for two years as senior democracy specialist at the US Agency for International Development and as legal counsel to the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Ukraine and Russia. Mr. Nix is a specialist in political party development and judicial and legal reform in the former Soviet Union. 

Laura Jewett is NDI’s Eurasia regional director. She had served as the Eurasia team’s deputy director for ten years. Ms. Jewett has traveled extensively in Eurasia, meeting with political, civic, and government leaders to assess political conditions and design democracy assistance programs. Before joining NDI, Ms. Jewett served in Washington on the staffs of US Representative Bill Ratchford and US Senator Christopher Dodd, both of Connecticut. 

David Kramer is the president of Freedom House. He served during the administration of President George W. Bush as assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor and deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, responsible for US relations with Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, and Belarus as well as regional nonproliferation issues.