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War and elections: What about Zelenskyy's powers in 2024 and whether voting possible

War and elections: What about Zelenskyy's powers in 2024 and whether voting possible President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy (

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will carry out his duties until the results of the next elections. However, it is unknown when the elections can take place in Ukraine, as they are prohibited during the state of war.

Read below on Ukraine and its partners' stance on the elections amid the war and what will happen to Zelenskyy's powers next.

The following sources were used to prepare this story: statements from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Oleksii Danilov, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba, Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) Ruslan Stefanchuk, Member of Parliament Fedir Venislavskyi, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Tiny Kox, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, the U.S. Department of State, Radio Svoboda (Liberty), and opinion surveys.

Elections in Ukraine: When they were scheduled

This year, parliamentary elections were supposed to take place in Ukraine. They were scheduled for October 29, 2023, but the full-scale invasion of Russia has changed those plans.

Before the start of the major war, presidential elections were planned for 2024. They were scheduled for the spring (late March). So, the electoral process was set to start at the end of December.

What the law says

The law of Ukraine prohibits holding elections during the state of war.

The current electoral code obliges the Central Election Commission to announce the start of the election campaign within 30 days after the cancellation of the state of war.

Regarding the parliament, Article 83 of the Constitution states that if the term of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) expires during the state of war, "its powers shall be extended until the first session of the newly elected Verkhovna Rada, held after the cancellation of the state of war."

What will happen to Zelenskyy's powers without the spring elections

According to Article 108 of the Constitution of Ukraine, the President of Ukraine carries out his duties until the newly elected president takes office.

Deputy Chairman of the Central Election Commission, Serhii Dubovyk, provided further details about President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's powers in a comment to Radio Svoboda. He reminded that according to the plan, the presidential elections were supposed to take place in March of the following year, but the CEC has not received any information about the organization of the electoral campaign.

According to the schedule, the electoral process is set to begin at the end of December. However, it is unlikely to be possible, as the Verkhovna Rada has extended the state of war until mid-February.

"We are an independent electoral body, guided solely by the law. Presidential elections in Ukraine, among other things, are appointed by the decree of the Verkhovna Rada. You and I have not seen a draft of such a decree or any other official documents," Dubovyk said.

A representative of the CEC added that regardless of the speculations on this topic, the Constitution specifies that if presidential elections do not take place, Zelenskyy's powers will be automatically extended. This also applies to the powers of the parliament.

"As of now, there is no other way, no changes to the legislation. In other words, there are no legal grounds to discuss anything at this moment," noted Dubovyk.

As for the powers of local government, they will only expire in 2025. Therefore, it is too early to talk about holding local elections.

What Zelenskyy and other government representatives are saying


Against the backdrop of numerous calls from Western politicians and discussions about holding elections amid wartime, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that he was ready to take such steps, but under certain conditions.

In particular, Western partners should finance these elections and send their observers to the frontlines because even the military needs to have the opportunity to vote.

However, the head of the state later mentioned that holding elections is not a current priority.

"And we all understand that now, in a time of war, with numerous challenges, it's absolutely irresponsible... somewhat like... lightly and playfully introducing the topic of elections into society. We need to focus on defense, the battle that determines the fate of the state and its people, not the speculations that Russia expects from Ukraine. I believe that elections are not a priority right now," Zelensky asserts.


Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, in turn, stated that Ukraine was ready to consider formats proposed by its partners on the issue of holding elections. However, the state budget for the upcoming year, 2024, does not allocate funds for their organization.

The head of the government noted that wartime elections need to be democratically recognized, and if the partners find suitable formats, the Ukrainian government is ready to consider them.

According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, the President of Ukraine is weighing the pros and cons of holding elections next spring.

Verkhovna Rada

The Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada, Ruslan Stefanchuk, believes that parliamentary elections should only be conducted after the war is over.

Member of Parliament and the President's representative in the Verkhovna Rada, Fedir Venislavskyi, commenting on the issue, stated that it would be difficult to ensure the constitutional principles of electoral rights in conditions of a state of war. This primarily concerns Ukrainian residents in temporarily occupied territories and those who have left the country and not returned. According to the MP, ensuring the voting rights for these groups of people is "very complex."

He also believes that if presidential elections were held during the war, there would not be freedom of electoral campaigning, freedom of media, freedom of political parties, and personal safety, among other factors.

National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC)

Secretary of the NSDC, Oleksii Danilov, also explained why holding elections in Ukraine during a full-scale war is almost impossible. It is difficult for anyone currently in the trenches to cast their votes, and "organizing the electoral process during explosions" is challenging.

According to Danilov, one should not forget about the right to vote for those who are currently abroad.

According to surveys, the majority of Ukrainians are against holding presidential or parliamentary elections during a time of war.

Western perspective on elections in Ukraine

One of the first to raise the topic of elections was the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Tiny Kox. In his opinion, Ukraine should hold fair, free presidential and parliamentary elections, even in a state of war.

Furthermore, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham from the Republican Party spoke about the necessity of elections in Ukraine during his visit to Kyiv. He stated that elections in Ukraine next year should take place, even in the context of a war.

However, not all in the West are as categorical. Deputy Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Ned Price, recently made a statement, emphasizing that the United States understands President Zelenskyy's position that holding elections during a war is not a priority, as it aligns with the Constitution.