News / Europe

Ukraine Ruling Party Poised to Regain Majority

Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), led by Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, attend news conference, Kiev, Oct. 29, 2012.
Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), led by Walburga Habsburg Douglas, center, attend news conference, Kiev, Oct. 29, 2012.
James Brooke
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych appears poised to regain his parliamentary majority after Sunday’s elections.
 
With about 70 percent of the ballots counted, the president’s Regions Party and his Communist allies have received about 48 percent of the vote. With the addition of deputies elected as independents, analysts say the president seems guaranteed to be able to forge a majority in Parliament.
 
Ukraine's parliamentary elections on Sunday drew attention from afar - the country rests between Europe and Russia - and were viewed by many as a mid-term litmus for President Viktor Yanukovych.  A record 3,500 foreign observers came here to monitor the vote.
 
'A step backwards'
 
But European observers harshly criticized the campaign, which came halfway through Yanukovych’s five-year term.
 
Walburga Habsburg Douglas, observation mission leader for Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the vote was a backward step for the nation of 46-million people.
 
“Considering the abuse of power and the excessive role of money in this election, democratic progress appears to have reversed in Ukraine," Douglas told a packed press conference. "The October 28 parliamentary election was characterized by a lack of level playing field, lack of transparency, and a lack of balanced media coverage.”
 
Even with key party leader Yulia Tymoshenko in jail, European observers noted that her pro-Western Fatherland Party was receiving 23 percent of the vote. The other two opposition parties, UDAR led by a heavyweight boxing champion, was getting 13 percent, while Svoboda, a nationalist party, was drawing nine percent.
 
Two Sunday night exit polls gave the three opposition parties higher percentages, and the two governing parties lower percentages. The Central Election Commission has been criticized for refusing to publish detailed voting returns.
 
Audrey Glover, OSCE's long-term observation leader, criticized the vote-counting and the campaign.
 
"The competitive nature of the campaign was negatively affected by intimidation, violence and vote buying," she said.
 
Voter turnout was 58 percent, about six percent lower than the last parliamentary elections five years ago. Almost half of voters surveyed earlier this month said they feared fraud would be big enough to affect the outcome.
 
"Most worrying is the fact that the campaign was marred by abuse of administrative resources – blurring distinction between state and ruling party," Glover added.
 
Reflecting voter alienation, almost one-quarter of voters cast ballots for a radical party – for communists on the left or for the nationalist Svoboda, or Freedom Party, on the right.
 
Criticism dismissed
 
Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov dismissed the criticism.
 
"We already know statements from the whole range of election observation missions, every one of them is positive," he said. "And we hope that, as a whole, all those international observers will finish their work with such a positive conclusion." 
 
Earlier Monday, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Sergei Tigipko said he was pleased with the outcome.
 
"We are satisfied with the results Party of Regions has received – it's the best result for a ruling party in over 20 years," he said. "I think an even more convincing victory will come after all the votes are counted, and the total will give us the chance to become the majority party and continue the reforms we have started."
 
Implications of ruling party victory
 
Victory for the ruling party will likely cement the leadership of Yanukovych, whose first term has been marked by an accumulation of presidential powers and antagonism with the West.
 
Still, the initial results show some newer opposition parties making some gains, including the pro-Western Udar Party, whose leader, Vitaly Klitschko, is uncertain of how much impact his party will have.
 
"According to the results, opposition forces have gained more than 50 percent," said Klitschko. "Some suggest 55-57 percent. I'm sure that if not for the new election laws, we could form the majority, impeach today's government and form a coalition government.
 
"Also, in the shortest possible time we could decriminalize the law for which the leader of Fatherland, Yulia Tymoshenko, and Yuri Lutsenko are jailed," he added. "But today, new laws on individual races possess a real threat because manipulation is possible, and it is taking place."
 
On election day and again on Monday, computer attacks knocked out web sites of several opposition leaders and Opora, the nation's biggest election watchdog. With 3,500 Ukrainian observers working across the nation, Opora recorded thousands of violations on Sunday, from ballot-stuffing to dead people on the voting lists to home-vote requests by people who weren't ill.
 
Tymoshenko launches hunger strike
 
A huge test for Ukraine's fragile democracy, the parliamentary elections are already overshadowed by Tymoshenko's imprisonment.
 
Fatherland's jailed leader, who has already served the first of a seven-year prison sentence for abuse of power while in office, announced Monday she is launching a hunger strike to protest the vote.
 
Tymoshenko's lawyer, Serhiy Vlasenko, read her statement to the press.
 
"If I were with you now and had an opportunity to act freely, I would without doubt call on you to stage an indefinite civil disobedience action, and we together would show these forgers their place as we've done many times in the past," the statement said. "But now, being behind bars, I cannot call on you to come out to the square because I cannot guarantee that such gatherings will be peaceful and well-organized, so I do all I can do under such circumstances - I declare hunger strike to protest against fake elections and illegitimate parliament."
 
Voters cast ballots to select party lists to fill half of the 450 seats in the unicameral parliament; the other 225 seats are filled by individual races in geographic constituencies.
 
Many in the West view the elections as a signal of Ukraine's future course in managing its relationships with both Russia and the European Union.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Key Al-Shabab Commander Captured

Zakariye Ismail Hersi was captured in a raid Saturday morning in the town of El Wak near the border with Kenya More

Relations Between Pakistan, Afghanistan Key to Fighting Taliban

A Pakistani official tells VOA that anti-terrorism campaign has resulted in improved counter-terrorism cooperation with Afghanistan More

160,000 Displaced by Flooding in Malaysia

Prime Minister Najib Razak visits hard-hit Kelantan state, announces nearly $145M in additional relief for victims More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Intellibronc from: Milky Way Galaxy
October 29, 2012 2:09 PM
I've got friends in Ukraine and have been told of power outages in certain precincts that were NOT pro Region or communist party. Also the use of invisible ink, YES, invisible ink that disappeared after a ballot had been cast. Sounds like Forward to me, aka obama's Forward.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid