Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The 2002 Parliamentary Elections as an Indicator of the Sociopolitical Development of Ukraine

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

The 2002 Parliamentary Elections as an Indicator of the Sociopolitical Development of Ukraine

Article excerpt

Oleksandr Sushko is the director of the Center for Peace, Conversion, and Foreign Policy of Ukraine.

The returns of Ukraine's parliamentary elections of 31 March 2002 turned out to be too contradictory to provide grounds for final conclusions as regards the success or failure of the democratic transformation in Ukraine. In fact, the elections became only a stage of the nonuniform political process, in which modernization and democratization coexist with archaic, post-Soviet tendencies. The election campaign revealed serious deviations from standards of transparent democratic process. Yet, in general, the election results were successful because the democratic forces effectively improved their positions in parliament, although they fell short of an absolute majority of seats.

The elections demonstrated a serious expansion of the electoral basis of the reformist forces, as well as decreasing support of past favorites, the Communists. In addition, they delineated a distinct, new pattern among the political forces, a sort of three-party system instead of the former divide between the uncoordinated democrats opposed by the Communists. During the election period, the main contenders in Ukraine's political arena were the "centrist" nomenklatura-oligarchic parties incorporated in the For Integral Ukraine (FIU) bloc, on one hand, and the broad spectrum of reformers united around the person of ex-prime minister Victor Yushchenko in the Our Ukraine bloc, on the other. Allied with the FIU in most cases is the Social-Democratic Party of Ukraine (united) (SDPUu)--the only one of the propresidential parties that, along with the FIU, managed to overcome the 4 percent vote hurdle to get into parliament. The Yulia Tymoshenko bloc and the Socialist Party of Oleksandr Moroz can contribute to Our Ukraine's efforts to establish an opposition to President Leonid Kuchma and the Kinakh government. These two forces unexpectedly overcame the 4 percent hurdle quite successfully. The Communists have become the third independent element. Alone their numbers are not sufficient to be of crucial importance. But the total number of opposition MPs, including Communists, is now 219 (48.5 percent of parliament). 1 This is likely to determine the effectiveness of the Supreme Rada's activities, at least during the first year of its work.

Election Returns

Since 1998, Ukraine has had a mixed electoral system. Under the Law of Ukraine on Election of People's Deputies, 225 (half) of 450 deputies are elected according to the results of the vote in the national multimandate constituency, with a 4 percent hurdle applied. The remaining 225 deputies are elected in single-mandate constituencies. The elections demonstrated that the major political forces in the multimandate and single-mandate constituencies could differ significantly.

According to the final returns that were disclosed by the Central Election Committee on 15 April, six parties and blocs had overcome the 4 percent hurdle (see table 1). They thus form the basic configuration of the parliament, which will consist of six major caucuses. In addition, the caucuses will also include MPs elected in single-mandate constituencies who were supported by relevant blocs (parties). It is here that the differences emerge. For instance, in the Communist Party there are seven members of parliament from single-mandate constituencies, so the Communist Party caucus had sixty-six persons (seven plus the initial fifty-nine from the party list). 2 That is nearly half of what the Communists had in the previous parliament.

The Our Ukraine bloc won in forty-eight districts. It had 118 seats, but in at least one of the constituencies the vote has already been declared invalid. 3 The Socialist Party of Ukraine won in three constituencies; in one of them the vote has been declared invalid, so the Socialists will have twenty-two seats. 4 The Yulia Tymoshenko bloc could add two single-mandate district deputies to twenty-two MPs elected on the party list. …

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