Ukrainian elections the best of the post-Soviet nations? Setting low standards and failing to achieve them

According to MEP Pawel Kowal, head of the European Parliament’s Observer Mission for the Ukrainian elections when speaking at the European Parliament Committee for Foreign Affairs  a few days ago, the Ukrainian elections were the best of those held by post-Soviet nations.

For a man who should be used to being very careful with his words, that seems something of a careless statement.  I am quite sure Estonia, Latvia and Lithuanian, now EU members, would certainly disagree.

Perhaps he meant post-Soviet nations that remain outside the EU - but that is not what he said - careless!

So let’s have a look at the benchmark for such a statement.  Who exactly has Ukraine to beat in democratic standards to have the best elections in the post-Soviet block (excluding those now in the EU)?

Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The bar is not exactly set very high to be the best of a bad lot now is it?

Surely if comparisons have to be made - and I see no reason that they do need to be made considering OSCE has a solid framework for such things against which all OSCE nations are scored - it would be better to position Ukraine against the worst, but tolerable examples of electioneering from within the EU nations when it comes to “benchmarking”.  That at least would show the minimum distance Ukraine still has to travel.

It is surely better to be the worst of a good bunch that makes the grade, than the best of a bad one that doesn’t.

That said, to be the worst of a bad bunch takes some doing.