Monday, March 20, 2006

Less then one week to go

Democracy is alive and well in Ukraine

With less then one week until the March 26 Poll democracy is alive and well in Ukraine. from my observations from within Ukraine each and every party has been afforded free search and the right to complain openly for support in the lead-up to the March 26 vote.

Each of the Major political parties have organised major public rallies and have maned information tents distributing information thought the country. There has been not report of organised intimidation or violence from either side.

All TV channels have carried a variety of Party messages and there is a host of campaign advertising broadcast.

Under Ukrainian Electoral Law voting intention Polls are baned 2 weeks before the election. This has some advantage and merit but never the less the limited restriction of publication of voter intention does not effect the internet or international media.

The Polls to date have Party of Regions on around 26%, Yulia Tymoshenko at around 22% and Our Ukraine on 16%.

There is speculation that the two Victor Parties (Our Ukraine and Party of Regions) may from a coalition after the election. If this is the case then Ukraine could see a period of relative stability during the term of the next Parliament.

Failing the above marriage of convenience Ukraine is facing an unknown future as both mayor blocks have according to the polls equal support and any coalition would require the support of three or more minor parties. If this is the outcome then Ukraine could very well be going back to the polls within a relative short period of time.

Ukraine's President has already forshadowed that he would seek to disband the newly elected government and call for new elections.

What is clear is that one year on from the "Orange Revolution" Ukraine remains divided with the President failing to capitalize on the perceived gains of the Orange Revolution. More and more evidence is appearing that give cause to doubt the validity of the "Orange Revolution" itself. Reports are thick of paid protesters and orchastrated demonstrations. Not much has changed in this respect with all the major parties paying people to man the information tents and hand out electoral material.

Much of the criticism coming from the west is motivated by disappointment on the expected outcome with commentators criticising the Party List electoral system currently in use.

Whilst there is need for review and further reform it should be noted that the system is similar to other Western European Parliamentary democracies and has to a large extent be implemented under the auspice of the European monitors.

Assuming there will be no problems with recording the results of the vacate all indications are that the results of the election will be a true refection of the Ukraine's voters.

Whats even more impressive is that the polls indicate a 90% voter participation rate. This would make the Ukrainian election one of the most democratic elections in the world. The United States has less then 50% voter participation and in the 2000 US Presidential elections only 40% of American Citizens voted with George Bush obtaining 40% voters support ie 16% of US citizens).

The key to the outcome of this election will be found with the results of minor parties. With an expected 2% of voters voting supporting minor parties many will be disenfranchised as their party of choice will not obtain the 3% minimum quota. There will be a tight contest with PORA, NE TAK and Party Viche fighting to get above the 3% threshold.

If there is one issue that needs review the most it is the method of voting. Ukraine should following this election seriously consider adopting a preferential voting system allowing those voters who support minor candidates to cast a subsequent preference which when counted will be transferred to the party of their choice. Under the current system these voters aspirations are ignored and the major parties Parliamentary representation increased disportortionally.

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