Olga Aivazovska, Chair of the Board of Civil Network OPORA, took part in the closed expert discussion "Democratic Challenges and Opportunities for Ukraine" held in June in Kyiv. Experts discussed the following topics: parliamentary reform and the code of ethics; challenges and risks of parliamentary and presidential elections in the current conditions; the balance between decentralization and centralization of power in wartime; the importance of media pluralism (countering disinformation; strategic communication of authorities as a prerequisite for fair elections); social cohesion and involvement of vulnerable groups in reconstruction and decision-making processes; protection of human rights in times of war: countering pressure and attacks on activists and journalists; gender-based violence.

Find below the main points of Olga Aivazovska's speech

OPORA started conducting in-depth interviews and communicating with various stakeholders, such as qualified experts, politicians, and government officials. We explore the formula for Ukraine's democratic resilience after the outbreak of the Big War. Representatives of different sectors of the state and society respond in a very cohesive and unified way, defining three main components critical for the country: 

  • human capital and experience of democratic transformations

The first component is people and their experience of democratic transformations. During 30 years of independence, return, and restoration of the statehood of Ukraine, the society has been fighting for its participation in decision-making at the national and local levels. This happened because of revolutions, reforms, advocacy, ongoing resistance, and disagreement with the authorities. This experience overlapped with the highest challenge for society and the state, such as the existence in the settings of full-scale aggression and invasion.

  • decentralization as a basis for resilience

Decentralization is not only about local self-government but also about the understanding of each entity, individual, citizen, group of citizens, non-governmental organization, and political group. It is about realizing that much more depends on them than the officially given powers. The conditions of a full-scale invasion contributed to the fact that everyone undertook responsibility and acted. Ad hoc decisions were not made on the central level, like in Russia, where decisions were made by the Kremlin and Putin personally. This confirms that decentralization, as a democratic system that involves every citizen in the necessary campaigns of survival, defense, and protection, has proven to be the most viable form.

  • shared understanding

The third component is a shared understanding of purpose. Everyone understood what was good, what was bad, who the enemy was, against whom and for what we were fighting. These three components make stories of democratic resilience that reflect political processes in Ukraine.

These three unified stories about Democratic Resilience are, in fact, also about political processes in Ukraine. 

At the same time, democratic institutions in Ukraine face multiple challenges.

The longer the war lasts, the greater the degradation of democratic institutions will become. Political parties that do not see the prospect of elections in the near future will not be motivated to work on their own progress, networks, activities, and the development of practices of policies. If we do not move away from the approach where parties are perceived only as subjects of the electoral process, we will see an increasing degradation of these democratic institutions. They should be the key actors of the electoral process, the drivers of change. They shall educate a new generation of the political establishment.

The degradation of institutions is our future. If we do not talk about it, if we do not state the facts, and if we do not search for a solution, we will be trapped in this problem for a long time. The problem with the legal regime is that some power subjects have complete power, they are often not accountable or transparent, and sometimes they abuse the law and do not communicate critical information to society.

Ukraine's democratic resilience is a complex process requiring the participation of all segments of society, clear-cut decentralization, and a shared understanding of purpose. This is the only way to ensure a future that meets the aspirations of our people.

One of the most critical challenges for Ukraine is ensuring energy security. In the case of a new wave of migration, when 5 or 6 million citizens leave the territory of Ukraine due to the expected blackouts, the country's ability to protect and defend itself will significantly decrease. Preservation of human capital is critical for citizens' participation in the political processes that determine the future of the state.

One of the effective solutions for energy security is the decentralization of energy resources. Spending European funds on constructing new units of nuclear power plants will take 10 to 20 years and require significant investments. Ukraine has not much time, and the maximum possible period for implementing effective solutions is 1 to 2 years. Decentralization of energy resources will help preserve the human capital necessary to manage the state at all levels.

The strategy of global Ukrainehood should include elements of political participation of Ukrainian people staying out of the country designed to facilitate their return to Ukraine or provide support with resources. Citizens sending money to Ukraine support the state economy. Before the full-scale invasion, this support amounted to three billion dollars a year, which is a significant part of foreign exchange earnings.

The system of public administration in Ukraine remains weak, which affects the quality of personnel and decision-making processes. If only a few managers make all the decisions, it reduces the motivation of civil servants to work for low wages. Consequently, it affects the resilience of the state and democratic transition.

Electoral reforms in Ukraine should be divided into two "baskets": technical and developmental. The first is the implementation of the recommendations of the OSCE, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, and other observation missions. The second is a package for the development of democracy in a post-war country. Without awareness of relevant amendments and changes to the electoral code, Ukraine cannot hold the first post-war elections at the proper level.

Independent audit of the State Voter Register is critical to ensuring transparency of the election process. When moving the population inside and outside the country, the quality of the voter register must be checked to avoid the presence of "dead souls" or duplication.

Conflict prevention is an important element in ensuring stability during electoral processes. Dialogues between political leaders and the development of technical aspects of electoral reforms contribute to reducing tensions and ensuring a quality preparatory process.


Democracy is not a constant term but a process that must be constantly pursued. Reforms should maintain the principle of continuity, be both permanent and adapted to new conditions. Ukraine should take into account modern challenges, such as cyber threats and unfair influence on public opinion, in order to ensure transparency and efficiency of the election process in the post-war period.