The Ukrainian parliament yesterday approved a new law on parliamentary elections, changing the existing majoritarian system to a mixed majoritarian-proportional one. Under the new law, half of the deputies will be elected in single-mandate territorial districts and the another half on the basis of country-wide slates of parties and blocs. The new law requires a minimum turnout of 25 percent for a valid election; the old law had required a minimum of 50 percent. The parliamentary election is due next spring and likely to be held in March. The new electoral law passed by a large margin of 226 in favor and 73 opposed. Nevertheless, 226 represents the barest constitutional majority in the 450-seat chamber, which is characterized by absenteeism and diminished by vacancies. (UNIAN, DINAU, September 24)
The large parties, particularly the Socialists and Communists as well as many in the national-democratic camp, favored the proportional system. "Centrists" and most supporters of President Leonid Kuchma — as well as the president himself — favored the single-mandate district system, which usually works to the advantage of local notables. Yesterday’s vote capped a lengthy tug-of-war and represents a compromise between these sets of interests. Ukraine’s political spectrum and the parliament itself is highly fragmented into small parties and parliamentary groups. The new electoral law will force some of these to merge into blocs.
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