Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 32

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, as had been widely expected, has returned the draft law on presidential elections to parliament for reexamination. In his opinion, the provision in the bill which allows only parties and political blocs to nominate candidates violates the constitution. Kuchma’s dislike of the nascent parties is widely known. Having no party affiliation himself, he has said several times that he would veto any law which allowed only parties to nominate the president would be vetoed. Kuchma also proposes to cut the official campaign from 180 to 120 days to reduce spending on the elections. This, in view of Ukraine’s economic troubles, is likely to appeal to potential voters. A shorter campaign would effectively benefit the incumbent president as the one candidate who does not need a campaign to air his views and criticize his political opponents using the media he controls. One of Kuchma’s main opponents, Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, however, remains optimistic about the elections. Prior to Kuchma’s veto, Symonenko boasted that the length of the electoral campaign would not make any difference to his party, which is stronger than ever before (Ukrainian agencies, 1st TV Channel, February 15; Den, February 16).

The parliament can override the presidential veto in time for the scheduled October elections. This is not an impossible task, because the draft law was adopted in January by an overwhelming majority in parliament (see the Monitor, January 19). –OV