As the conflict in Ukraine continues President Volodymyr Zelensky has recently said, “I believe that now is not the right time for elections.”
In a nightly video address on Monday, Zelensky said it was “utterly irresponsible to engage in topics related to an election in such a frivolous manner.”
“Now everyone should think about defending our country. We need to pull ourselves together, avoid unwinding and splitting up into disputes or other priorities,” he said. “If there is no victory, there will be no country. Our victory is possible.”
Zelensky was elected for a five-year term in March 2019, with presidential elections originally scheduled for March 2024. Ukraine was due to hold a parliamentary election in October.
Zelensky declared martial law on February 24, 2022, the day Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine’s constitution mandates that elections cannot go ahead until any declaration of martial law is lifted, which is unlikely to happen soon.
Some characterized the announcement as meaning that Zelensky had canceled elections.
A post on X, formerly Twitter, by user @WarClandestine, posted on November 6, 2023, viewed 402,500 times, stated: “Zelensky to cancel Ukrainian election!
“Says now is ‘not the right time for elections’ and that Ukraine must dedicate all resources to defense.
“Zelensky holding Ukraine hostage and refusing to relinquish power. Zelensky has been upgraded to dictator.”
This was a claim made earlier this year by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, who said: “The biggest recipient of American welfare, Ukraine, canceled its next presidential election.”
Ukrainian law states that elections for the presidential office of Ukraine, Ukraine’s parliamentary body the Verkhovna Rada, the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and local self-government bodies, are prohibited under martial law.
Newsweek has contacted the Ukrainian government via email for comment.
Whether an election could happen is theoretical and the Ukrainian government could explore if the rules on elections during martial law could change.
A few days ahead of Zelensky’s announcement on Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the Ukrainian president was weighing the pros and cons of a presidential vote in spring 2024.
“We are not closing this page. The president of Ukraine is considering and weighing the different pros and cons,” he said during an online appearance at the World Policy Conference in the United Arab Emirates on November 3.
There would be any number of challenges in trying to hold an election. As well as the difficulties of ensuring a fair election across the country, particularly with regions in the east of the country under Russian control, millions of displaced Ukrainians may be unable to vote or be able to access tools to ensure their vote is counted.
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