Ukraine Faces Dilemma: Can Elections Happen During War?

In Ukraine, there’s a heated debate about whether to hold the presidential election scheduled for March 2024 due to the ongoing war with Russia. The country’s martial law, in place since the invasion in February 2022, prohibits all elections, sparking concerns that holding one could divert attention from the fight for survival.

The issue has been further complicated by the involvement of some US politicians, particularly within the Republican party. Critics argue that certain hard-right Republicans are using the election debate to support their demand to withhold military aid to Ukraine.

This is tied to the growing influence of isolationist views, such as those of former President Donald Trump, within the party.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky initially hinted at the possibility of elections but later acknowledged that it was not the right time.

The pressure is not just internal; Zelensky recognizes the need to address voices within the US, as the country is a crucial ally providing vital military aid.

Even if martial law is lifted for elections, numerous challenges remain, including security concerns, a displaced population, damaged infrastructure like schools used as polling stations, an outdated voter registry, restricted rights under martial law, and a lack of funding.

Despite widespread unpopularity of the idea, President Zelensky’s ambiguous statements have led to speculation and a domestic backlash. Some fear he may want to capitalize on his current popularity before it potentially declines due to the ongoing conflict.

Experts agree that, given the current circumstances, holding free and fair elections seems nearly impossible. A survey indicates that over 80% of Ukrainians prefer to hold elections only after the war ends.

While there are constitutional provisions allowing the incumbent president to continue until a new one is elected, the situation becomes uncertain if the war prolongs. Politicians and experts stress the need to prepare for post-war elections, considering the challenges of destroyed infrastructure, displaced voters, and the necessity of alternative voting methods.

The dilemma is balancing the urgent need for post-war recovery and stability with the demand for democratic processes. As Ukraine grapples with this complex situation, the risk of internal divisions and external pressures adds another layer of complexity to an already challenging scenario.

Source: BBC

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