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Ukraine holds early parliamentary election today

Ukraine holds early parliamentary election today
Article by: Peter Dutczyn

It was called in response to popular demand for a legislature that would form a pro-European coalition and cabinet and pass the laws needed to carry out long-overdue reforms. However, the new parliament will probably include many old faces.

Mixed system

Ukraine has a mixed voting system. Under the current election law, 225 of the 450 seats will be allocated on the basis of proportional representation among the parties that manage to clear the 5% threshold.

Candidates compete for the other 225 seats in first-past-the-post races in single-mandate constituencies. Those running can represent parties or stand independently. However, the Central Electoral Commisison has said that voting will not take place in 15 constituencies of eastern Ukraine and so the new parliament will have 423 MPs and not 450.

elections map2
Map by Alya Shandra

Reasons for dissolution

The next election was originally due to have been held in 2017. However, the parliament elected under the previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, was dissolved by his successor, Petro Poroshenko, on 25 August, three months after the latter’s landslide victory in an early presidential election.

In an address to the nation, Poroshenko explained he had the right to dissolve parliament because no new coalition had been formed after the break-up of the previous one in July. Citing polls, he added that 80% of Ukrainians supported the idea of holding an early parliamentary election.

Poroshenko said the dissolved parliament had been elected dishonestly, had acted as a “pillar of Yanukovych,” including by passing “dictatorial laws” in January, and had featured “sponsors” and “accomplices” of separatists.

“Let us give no chance to the fifth column and the forces seeking revenge,” he said in conclusion, urging “democratic forces” to participate in the election campaign as “one powerful pro-Ukrainian and pro-European team.”

No joint pro-EU bloc campaign

But Poroshenko’s call appears went unheeded since the parties and politicians that were actively engaged in the Maydan protests which brought about Yanukovych’s downfall are running independently.
In addition to the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, these are former Prime Minister Yuliya Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna [Fatherland] party, former Defence Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko’s Hromadianska Pozytsia [Civic Position], and the newly established Narodnyi Front [People’s Front], whose members include Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Turchynov, and many other former allies of Tymoshenko.

The other parties which Poroshenko referred to as democratic are MP Oleh Tyahnybok’s rightist Svoboda [Freedom] party and Lviv mayor Andriy Sadovyy’s Samopomich [Self-help] party.

The only self-declared opposition force which looks likely to obtain seats in the proportional race is A Strong Ukraine, led by former National Bank governor and minister Serhiy Tyhypko, a former member of Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Nonetheless, representatives of these and other parties, as well as independents, are vying for seats in single-mandate constituencies.

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