Forty-five empty seats in Ukraine’s 450-seat parliament are at stake in the December 10 by-elections. The Communist Party, fielding the largest proportionate number of candidates, could increase its already significant strength in parliament, adding to the weight those seeking to stop the reforms and reorient Ukraine toward Russia. Western-oriented politicians who comprise the national-democratic camp can scarcely count on augmenting their influence. Independents account for 65 percent of all candidates, many of whom speak not so much for ideologies as for the vested interests of government structures. A large number of independents, in addition, are classified as "entrepreneurs," with not a few of these suspected of simply seeking parliamentary immunity, according to Central Electoral Committee chairman Ivan Yemets. (12)
The communists are packing a bigger punch due to the country’s painful economic and social situation. On December 6, the International Labor Organization (ILO) issued a survey of Ukraine showing that hidden unemployment affects one in three workers, that industrial output has been halved since Ukraine became independent in 1991, and that two-thirds of the enterprises contacted were behind in paying their employees. (13)
Day of Reckoning for Belarus Parliament.