On March 31 Ukrainians will elect all 450 members of the Rada, the country’s one-chamber parliament. The voting is complicated. In each of 225 parliamentary districts, the top vote getter wins a seat. The other 225 seats are distributed proportionately among the parties and blocs that receive at least 4 percent of the vote nationwide. The parties then fill their seats with their candidates according to a ranked party list drawn up and made known in advance.
The campaign began officially on February 9.
–On the left, Pyotr Symonenko’s Communist Party of Ukraine is the dominant force, with 14-18 percent support in most polls. Six other left-wing parties are fielding candidates, but only Oleksandr Moroz’s Socialists have much of a chance of breaking the 4-percent barrier.
–On the right, former Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko heads Our Ukraine, also with around 14-18 percent support. Yushchenko has a reputation as a liberal economist, but the right is sliding increasingly toward protectionism and economic nationalism.
–The five-party bloc called “For a United Ukraine” heads the crowded status-quo center and will benefit from the government’s “administrative resources” and official media support. The United Social Democratic Party, which despite its name is a tool of the country’s leading economic oligarchs, also has media backing and should do well.
Outside the traditional spectrum are the gadfly Greens, the anti-tax Yabluko (Apple), the language-oriented Russian Bloc, the gender defenders of the Women’s Party and the you-know-where-we-stand Against All Bloc.
In politics, eight weeks can seem a lifetime.