Looking for pre-election buckwheat

“During the election process charitable assistance cannot be provided on behalf of the party or to be associated with its activities, otherwise it will be regarded as voter bribery.” – such a statement was made by the NACP a few weeks before the official start of local elections in Ukraine.

But since the beginning of the campaign, 14 attempts to bribe voters have been recorded.

For example, Gennady Trukhanov, the current mayor of Odessa, distributes kits with masks, antiseptics and cold and flue medicines to local citizens.

I’ll tell you right away: I myself am not running for any position, and none of my business partners and friends want to go into politics. But since I am the founder of the international charitable foundation “Manus Dei”, I have decided to find out who can be effected by this.

And I immediately thought of an incident that happened 8 years ago in a small town in the Kiev region. Just before the election, a house in a large and low-income family burned down completely.

The family turned to the candidate for People’s Deputies, who took care of that constituency, and a few days later the generous candidate bought a new house for his potential voters. Residents of the city have long remembered the unprecedented charity of the candidate, while tasting canned food from his food kits.

And, by the way, he distributed first-aid kits with “Corvalol” and “Analgin” to all senior citizens in the city and took all schoolchildren to the capital’s circus.

That candidate, of course, won the election. And although corruption scandals related to the name of the People’s Deputy appeared in the media every day, he was loved and remembered in the district to these days.

“They are all the same, political candidates, so it doesn’t matter who you vote for, because nothing will change in the country because of it, so why not to vote for the one who is helping at the moment? Even if his charity stops the next day after elections. You should take it, while the offer is on the table. “, – this is the logic of the majority of voters in our country.

Of course, it is incorrect to blame them for this, it so happened that our country is not completely economically free. More than one-third of the country lives below the poverty line. Of course, these people will take anything from anyone, and they do not care who they vote for.

But it seems that this time the auction of unprecedented pre-election generosity has come to an end.

“We have had only election laws for a very long time, but since January 2020 some of these laws have been reduced to the Electoral Code of Ukraine, according to which during the election campaign, when candidates start competing with each other, volunteering and charitable work are banned and considered as voters bribery, “said Svitlana Kushnir, a political scientist and campaign manager.

“Now in the current Electoral Code there is Article 57, paragraph 6, according to which it is prohibited to provide voters with money or goods, work, services, bonds, lotteries at the time of campaigning.

The Central Election Commission made its clarifications, and the NACP also decided to issue an additional order to clear the minds of many participants in the election process.

Because they have strengthened the attitude to Article 160: if no one was prosecuted for it before, now they clearly give from 2 to 5, and sometimes up to 6 years, with a ban to engage in certain activities, “- says Svetlana.

It seems that the initiative of our government is good – criminal liability for bribing voters. But on the other hand, elections are a chance for the average person to be heard and get help to solve a problem in this short period of time.

Voters are always waiting to be helped: someone is regularly visiting candidate’s office, hoping to raise money for the repair of a kindergarten or a hospital, someone to get help for a sick child. If they could hope for something before, now they would not receive any help.

And in the inter-election period to get help from the party is very big luck, after all, in a period when there are no elections in our country, charity can be afforded by either very rich parties with a wide network of local representations, or the ones who have been in Ukrainian politics for a very long time.

Moreover, Svitlana Kushnir explains: “It is still necessary to be able to properly communicate psychologically with people and set them up to vote for this particular candidate, taking a kit from him.

Even though that a large number of specialists in Ukraine know about this technique, not all of them use it correctly. Because of this, people who “distribute buckwheat” are very often convinced that they have already won. But in fact, its wrong, because there must be work carried out with the participation of psychologists, coaches and people who distribute charity kits in mini-groups and in these mini-groups people should be reminded about the benefactor. ”

It is hard to say for sure if the “ban on charity” is the right decision. But when I get around the Kyiv, I often count the number of election boards and I understand that the budget that could have gone to charitable assistance is being spent on advertising.

Andriy Dotsenko for UP https://www.pravda.com.ua/rus/columns/2020/10/2/7268610/