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Ukraine moving forward with changes to electoral system

Party of Regions' performance in 2007. It's really only the Party of certain Regions (Photo property of DemocracyATwork).

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is forwarding the new draft law on elections to the Venice Commission, the next step in formally changing the country’s electoral system. Ukraine currently uses a closed list PR system, and the proposed reforms will add a tier of single member district seats. This will essentially revert Ukraine to a parallel system, which it had before the Orange Revolution in 2005.  Among the other proposed chanegs include:

  • Increasing the threshold from three percent to five;
  • Banning “Blocs,” defined as a group of politicians who share the same or nearly the same political goals;
  • Eliminating the option on ballots to “not endorse any candidate.”

The elimination of Blocs is a clear move to hurt Yulia Tymoshenko’s coalition (BYuT) although the official argument is that they produce unstable governments.  Reinstating the nominal tier is, likewise, considered an advantage for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions (PoR).  None of these are bad changes per se, but given the context, it has caused critics to cry fowl.   Yanukovych did manage to push through similar reforms at the local level last year so it is unlikely he will be unsuccessful this time around.

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