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Understanding the Ukraine Election

6. November 2012 by Lorena 0 Comments

While we agree that politics is one of those subjects you just shouldn’t discuss with those you do not know well and wish to know better, it is still good to know what is going on in your Russian or Ukrainian lady’s part of the world. As Americans head to the polls today to cast their votes, Ukraine continues to untangle the results of theirs.


On October 28, Ukraine held parliamentary elections. This was their sixth election since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. A guide to the basics of Ukrainian electoral politics:


Ukrainian Government 101

Ukraine, like the US, has three branches of government: executive, legislative and judicial. However, there are also a lot of differences between government in the US and Ukraine. For instance, Ukraine has both a president and a prime minister. And, the president has the power to dissolve the Ukrainian parliament under certain circumstances. Ukraine’s parliament has only one body, the 450 member Verkhovna Rada. Citizens vote for parties rather than individual candidates. Last year, Parliament approved a measure that would make the election a mixed system with 50% of the vote based on party, and 50% for majority districts. Parties will often form coalitions with one another to achieve a majority vote.


So, who won?

The votes are not yet completely counted. But, current estimates show President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions retaining 188 seats, Ylia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna Party with 102, heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko’s UDAR (“Punch”) Party will have 40 with the rest of the votes scattered among other parties.


What are some of the issues?

With Yulia Tymoshenko imprisoned since last year, many people feel that Yanukovych and his party are using the judicial system to rig the vote. There are also concerns about freedom of the press and improperly supervised local elections.


Outside observers are recommending that elections be reheld in 5 localities. Protesters within Ukraine are demanding recounts in 13 electoral districts. Yanukovych has said that he will fight attempts to recount the vote. Central election authorities offered a compromise of a revote in a few districts, which was rejected by both Party of Regions and Batkivshchyna, asserting that the election authorities do not have the authority to make that call.


Well, what now?

Now, we wait. By law, Ukraine’s government has until November 12th to release preliminary results and November 17th to release binding ones.