On March 5 Ukrainian lawmakers easily overrode President Leonid Kuchma’s veto on the law on presidential elections. The vote was 313-14, with 30 abstentions. The parliament did not agree to Kuchma’s proposals that:
–both public organizations and parties be allowed to nominate presidential candidates;–Ukraine be divided into 805 rather than 205 constituencies;–every potential voter support by signature the nomination of only one candidate (every candidate must collect 1 million signatures);–the official campaign be cut from 180 to 120 days (thus, the campaign will begin in May);–the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) control the use of mass media in the campaign;–the CEC have the authority to cancel registration of any candidate who misappropriates electoral funds;–the elections be void if the turnout is less than 50 percent plus one vote.
Those amendments would have marred the chances of candidates from small parties and given the president virtually unlimited opportunities to manipulate the elections. The deputies agreed to the populist presidential suggestion that the nominees declare their property and incomes for the previous year (Ukrainian agencies, March 5; see the Monitor, February 16).
The presidential veto was opposed not only by the leftists and the nationalist Rukh, who had been set to override it from the start, but also by several factions considered pro-presidential. The leader of one such faction, Volodymyr Filenko of the People’s Democratic Party, hinted that this was in retaliation for Kuchma’s support of Ukraine’s joining the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly (IPA) on March 3. The accession to IPA had been opposed by the “national democrats,” who usually support Kuchma on major political issues. One of the law’s authors, Oleksandr Lavrynovych of the Rukh, said that Kuchma–now lacking any legal leverage to amend the law–will have to sign it (Ukrainian agencies, March 5; Den, March 6; see the Monitor, March 4). The president must sign the law within ten days. If he does, the elections will be held on October 31. Kuchma might, however, as a last resort, appeal to the Constitutional Court to override parliament’s override of his veto. –OV
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