Pro-Europe parties lead in Ukraine

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Published: Monday 27th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Two allied pro-European parties running on a platform to enact tough reforms took a joint lead today in the Ukrainian parliamentary election.

With more than a third of the votes counted, p artial figures showed prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s Popular Front with 21.6% of the vote and president Petro Poroshenko’s party at 21.5%.

Mr Poroshenko said after yesterday’s election that he wanted western-oriented parties elected to form a broad reformist coalition quickly . Negotiations on forming that coalition are expected to begin today and be completed within 10 days.

A recently-formed pro-European party based in western Ukraine, Samopomich, was running third with almost 11% of the vote.

The vote has led to an overhaul of a parliament once dominated by loyalists of former president Viktor Yanukovych, who sparked the protests that caused his departure with a decision to deepen ties with Russia.

Anti-Russian sentiment has spiked in Ukraine as the country battles with separatists in the east who many believe are supported by Moscow.

As a result, the election has favoured the chances of parties with staunchly pro-western or nationalist agendas.

Nonetheless, the opposition bloc, which pundits believe largely drew its support from Mr Yanukovych’s once-ruling Party of Regions, has put in a strong showing so far with 9.8%.

Mr Poroshenko laid out an ambitious agenda last month envisaging root-and-branch changes to the justice system, police, tax system, defence sector and health care to be completed by 2020.

Corruption has been an intensely-discussed issue in Ukraine in recent months and was one of the main seeds of the discontent that precipitated Mr Yanukovych’s downfall.

Among the tougher decisions likely to lie ahead will be allowing costs of basic utilities in the cash-strapped country to float in line with market demands. With the economy in free fall this year, there is no imminent sense of a surge of prosperity that could temper policies that would prove agonising to bear for the poor.

International observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were due to share a preliminary assessment of the election later today.

While around 36 million people were registered to vote, no voting was held on the Crimean Peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in March, or in parts of Ukraine’s easternmost regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where shelling remains a daily problem.

The fight against armed separatists on the border with Russia has claimed the lives of more than 3,600 people.

With almost three million people in areas near Russia’s border unable to vote, it seems probable pro-western parties were given an advantage.

Slightly more than half of the incoming members of parliament are being elected by means of party lists, and the remainder are picked in direct local contests. That has opened the door to the likelihood of victories by candidates from smaller parties, such as the Right Sector ultra-nationalist group.

With half the votes counted in his district in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh was leading comfortably with 30%, almost twice as much as his nearest rival.

Published: Monday 27th October 2014 by The News Editor

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