Accessibility links

Breaking News

Early Election Campaign Set To Kick Off In Ukraine

Months of rival street demonstrations will finally go to the polls (file photo) (RFE/RL) August 1, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Ukraine's president, by now well accustomed to the practice, today published his fourth decree in as many months scheduling early parliamentary elections.

The latest decree, announced today by presidential representative to the Central Election Commission Maryna Stavniyuchuk, effectively corrects legal hang-ups that may have derailed the September 30 vote and paves the way for the election campaign to begin on August 2.

President Viktor Yushchenko's latest decree makes more detailed references to the constitutional provisions on which he based his decision to call new elections. The president also clarifies that he disbanded the Verkhovna Rada "in connection with [its] lack of powers and the impossibility to restore [them]."

It also addresses legal concerns raised by the ruling coalition, particularly the Communist Party and the Party of Regions, that such elections should be scheduled within the 60 days after the publication of a relevant decree.

More Of The Same?

Yushchenko has vowed that Ukraine can "learn a lesson" from its months-long political crisis, but RFE/RL regional analyst Jan Maksymiuk doubts that new elections will provide the answer.

"According to all surveys of public opinion, the alignment of forces in a future parliament may be actually the same as it is now. So we may have a situation when the Party of Regions and [Prime Minister] Viktor Yanukovych may just renew his current government," Maksymiuk says. "Or, maybe, we may have a situation when the Party of Regions strikes a coalition with the pro-Yushchenko election bloc -- I mean, Our Ukraine and [People's] Self-Defense."

Among the few differences that can be found in the current situation may be a newfound willingness by Yushchenko to work with Party of Regions head Yanukovych, the man he bitterly contested in winning the presidency in 2004.

In addition, Maksymiuk believes that the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, which will run its own list of candidates, stands to make some gains at the expense of her former Orange Revolution ally, Yushchenko.

Low Expectations

But overall, expectations seem to be low, as evidenced by this woman, who participated in a call-in program by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service on July 31.

"The same parties, the same personalities will be in the [Verkhovna] Rada again," she said. "One thing I expect from the elections -- [is that] the vote itself would not be falsified and that it would be really people's choice. If this happens -- it would be real progress."

Any progress would be a help. The government has been at a virtual standstill for nearly half a year. Yushchenko has not signed into law any of the legislation adopted by parliament since 169 opposition lawmakers resigned in June, providing him with the legal basis for setting the new election date.

Not much has changed in terms of campaign issues. NATO and EU accession will remain a divisive factor, as will calls for making Russian an official state language. New to this poll will be the candidates' stance on abolishing parliamentarians' immunity from prosecution -- an initiative of the pro-presidential Our Ukraine-People's Self-Defense bloc.

Room For Optimism

Despite some reservations, polls carried out last week by the Socis Center of Sociological and Political Research indicate that 50 percent of Ukrainians are "certain" they will vote in the elections., while 26 percent say they are "likely to do so." Eleven percent are undecided and 13 percent say they will definitely not vote.

And of those who plan to vote, nearly one-quarter are doing so in the hope that it will change things for the better. A positive sign at the very least -- even if an equal number say they are heading to the polls because they don't want their ballots used by someone else.

(RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service contributed to this report.)

Ukrainian Voices

Ukrainian Voices

RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service asked people on the streets of Kyiv on April 11 whether the Constitutional Court will be able to determine the constitutionality of the president's decree dissolving parliament.

Oksana, a student from Lutsk:
"Their decision will at any rate be beneficial to one of the political forces."

Oleksandr, a high-school student:
"[The court] will be able to do it, but only if the judges agree upon it."

Alla Asilyevna, a pensioner:
"How can the Constitutional Court solve the problem if there is pressure on it from all sides?"

Ivan Yukhimovich, a pensioner:
"If [Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych and [President Viktor]Yushchenko find an agreement, everything will be resolved."

Yuliya, a worker:
"I doubt very much that the judges will agree on anything."

RFE/RL's coverage of Ukraine. The Ukrainian-language website of RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.