Ukraine: Zelenskyy says time not right for elections

The president said authorities and officials need to focus on defence, not elections at the moment

Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says war is not the right time for elections (photo: DW)
Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy says war is not the right time for elections (photo: DW)


With some Western officials calling for Ukraine to hold wartime elections, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed the idea, calling it "irresponsible".

"I believe that now is not the right time for elections," Zelenskyy said.

In his nightly address on 7 November, he urged compatriots towards unity in the face of a potentially divisive political discussion, saying the focus at the moment is on defence.

"We must realise that now is the time of defence, the time of the battle that determines the fate of the state and people, not the time of manipulations, which only Russia expects from Ukraine," he said, referring to Russia's ongoing assault on Ukraine.

Some Western officials, including US Republican senator Lindsey Graham, have called on Ukraine to stage national polls to show the country could still hold democratic elections — even while battling Russia's invasion.

Prior to Russia invading Ukraine, the country was slated to hold parliamentary elections in October 2023, followed by presidential elections in March 2024.

The elections have now been suspended under martial law, which has been in place in Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

In September, Zelenskyy had said he was open to holding elections in 2024 and supported inviting international observers.

The actual process of voting, however, could be logistically difficult to carry out with so many Ukrainian refugees living abroad and with many Ukrainian soldiers involved in fighting on the front.

The Ukrainian president did not see this as a failure of democracy, however, saying, "If we need to put an end to a political dispute and continue to work in unity, there are structures in the state that are capable of putting an end to it and giving society all the necessary answers."

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