Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 12

On January 15, Ukraine’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a new law which qualifies and quantifies the procedure for presidential elections. In a vote of 232-to-23, the lawmakers slipped the legislation in just before the body’s winter break. Parliament reconvenes in February. The timing gives lawmakers the opportunity, should they need it, to amend the draft and override a possible Kuchma veto before the official start of the campaign.

As approved, the draft stipulates substantive changes and procedural details. First, only political parties and blocs can nominate candidates. Second, elections will be valid even if turnout is less than 50 percent of registered electors (Ukrainian agencies and television, January 15). Third, the election will be held on the last Sunday in October of the fifth year of a presidential term. Fourth, nomination of candidates begins 170 and ends 140 days before the elections, that is, in May and June. Fifth, candidates must register no later than three months before the event, that is, before August.

Earlier drafts of this legislation required a 50 percent plus one vote participation (see the Monitor, December 7). Oleksandr Lavrynovych, a member of the parliamentary Rukh faction, explained the change by the concern that President Leonid Kuchma would be able to disrupt the elections if the 50 percent norm were preserved (Den, January 16). The law must be signed by the president to come into effect. Kuchma had earlier warned that he would oppose a law allowing only parties to nominate candidates. The law approved last week will, therefore, probably be vetoed. Kuchma, explaining his position, argues that the nascent political parties are weak, and do not represent the whole nation (the Monitor, December 16). Neither of the parties has yet voiced support of Kuchma in the upcoming elections. –OV