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Jenny Cohen
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
jercohen@indiana.edu
812-855-6802

Last modified: Thursday, March 23, 2006

Experts predict no clear winner in Ukraine’s first parliamentary elections since Orange Revolution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2006

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- One of the groups intently watching Sunday's (March 26) first parliamentary elections in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution will be the Parliamentary Development Project at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

"The issue of a commanding lead at the polling booth has implications well beyond election outcomes," said Charles Wise, director of the Parliamentary Development Project. He noted that while it is unclear which party will get the most votes, pre-election polls indicate that no party will get a commanding lead.

Ukraine's recent constitutional changes demand that before the parliament can form a government, it has to form a governing majority in the parliament. "This is a task which has never been done before," Wise said. "Negotiations over appointment of the prime minister and the general make-up of the cabinet of the ministers will be part and parcel of negotiations over the leader of the governing majority, the chairman of the parliament, and which parties will control the committee chairmanships."

The result is that in a parliamentary race in which no clear winner is likely to be announced, the formation of a democratic government in Ukraine could be quite prolonged.

Pre-election polls indicate further complications: those parties who will likely share the majority of votes have deep ideological divisions to overcome before a governing coalition in parliament could be formed. The Party of Regions is estimated to receive around 30 percent of the votes. It is led by President Viktor Yuschenko's opponent in the 2004 presidential election that ended with the Orange Revolution. Two blocs of former Orange Coalition leaders are likely to share 35-40 percent of the votes.

"Negotiations between these parties will be very difficult because the Party of Regions is headed by former Prime Minister Yanukovych," Wise noted. "Yanukovych's political approach is one that Orange Coalition leaders stand against."

Bohdan Radejko, field director for the Parliamentary Development Project for Ukraine, noted one other complication. "The reporting of election results may be severely delayed because of under-staffed polling stations, inadequate polling hours, and unmanageably long ballot lists," he said. These factors may well result in discussions the day after the election of poorly run voting stations and accusations of fraud.

The Parliamentary Development Project has worked since 1994 to strengthen the parliament as a transparent, effective, democratic institution through improved legislative-executive relations and increased citizen involvement. PDP facilitates parliamentary access advocacy training, provides technical assistance to parliamentarians and their staff, conducts comparative research on policy issues, awards grants to citizen coalitions, and encourages highly motivated young professionals to become involved with the legislature through its Parliamentary Internship Program. For more information, please visit http://www.iupdp.org.

The IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs, located on eight campuses, is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.