Polling stations have closed in Ukraine, after a hard-fought election campaign, in which thousands of violations of electoral law were recorded by Ukrainian civic organisations and international observers.

This is the first election that has been accompanied by live Twitter feeds from the civic organisations, Maidan and Opora, and by BBC Ukrainian. Many violations at polling stations were tweeted as they happened, often with photographs and video clips, including polling booths in Odessa equipped with erasable ink pens, election committees in Luhansk counting votes before the polls had closed (captured on the webcams installed at each polling station), election committees signing their election returns (certifying that the vote count is correct) before counting the votes, incorrect ballot papers and electoral registers, observers and journalists being refused access, and voters being bussed to polling stations with promises of payment. The international observer corps, which includes large delegations from the EU and Canada, amongst others, will be presenting their reports tomorrow, which will be a critical factor in giving the elections legitimacy.

Both Opora and Maidan have been reporting problems with their internet sites during the day, with hosting problems and hacker attacks, particularly on their Ukrainian-language sites.

Exit polls have been conducted by several organisations. The 'Democratic Initiatives' Foundation is showing the Party of the Regions in the lead with just over 28% of the vote, Batkivshchyna on almost 25%, Udar on 15.1%, Svoboda on 12.3% and the Communist party on 11.8%. Other exit polls are showing results which are =/-2% of these figures. The results relate only to the national party vote which will allocate half the 450 seats in the Ukrainian parliament. Single-member constituencies - where some of the worst violations of electoral law were recorded, account for the other 225 seats and will decide the eventual balance of power.

But the results are much closer than previous polls were suggesting and seem to be showing that the new parliament will be more finely balanced than before - if the opposition parties are able to form a solid coalition and if there are no widespread defections from smaller parties to the Party of the Regions.

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Ukrayinska Dumka


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