Ukrainian President’s impeachment on table as revamped parliamentary elections begin
Ukraine is holding the first parliamentary elections under a new voting system, which could result in a few surprises. The political landscape of the country may change dramatically if the opposition gains enough seats to impeach the president.
Following the most expensive election campaign in the history of the post-Soviet Ukraine – over $2 billion – polling stations have opened across the country, and 36 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots in the parliamentary elections.
Overall, 87 parties are participating in the elections, though only five are believed to have a solid chance of passing the five percent vote barrier to win spots in the 225-seat parliament.
Those major parties consist of the ruling Party of Regions; the Communist Party; the Motherland Party of former Ukrainian PM Yulia Timoshenko, who is currently in prison; the Front of Changes Party; and the newly formed Udar Party of former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko. The ultra-nationalist Freedom Party also hopes to pass the five percent barrier with the support of voters in western Ukraine.
Recent laws have dramatically changed the country’s voting system: For the first time since 2002, seats in the Ukrainian parliamentary election will be won on both a majority and a proportional basis.
There is little doubt that the ruling Party of Regions will continue its proportional dominance and earn a majority of parliamentary seats, RT’s Aleksey Yaroshevsky reported. However, a surprise upset could come from the majority voting, which is more difficult to predict.
Numerous independent candidates have a chance at winning the majority parliamentary seats. The independent deputies would then have to decide which alliances to join, and what kinds of coalitions to form.
The Ukrainian opposition announced it will move to impeach ruling President Viktor Yanukovich if it can assemble a majority coalition in parliament.
The elections’ strongest dark horse candidate is retired boxing heavyweight champion Vitaly Klitschko’s Udar (‘Strike’) Party. Many Ukrainians believe Klitschko could be the deciding factor in the formation of an opposition coalition in parliament.
Klitschko has already vowed his party would not form a coalition with neither the Party of Regions nor the Communist Party. However, he has not yet expressed interest in joining with the opposition either.
Intrigue and speculation surrounds the potential makeup of the new parliament, and whether a new block could have enough seats to pass the impeachment vote to oust Yanukovish, dramatically changing the political landscape and power structure of post-Soviet Ukraine.
And like Russia’s presidential election in spring 2012, all of Ukraine’s 32,192 polling stations are equipped with web cameras to deter voter fraud and allow the elections to be viewed online. This extensive system reportedly added $123 million to the country’s budget.