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Parliament gives early backing to purely proportional elections

The Verkhovna Rada voted 262 to 7 on 5 March to adopt in its first reading a bill postulating a fully proportional party-list system for parliamentary elections, Ukrainian news media reported. The bill calls for the election of 450 lawmakers in 225 constituencies from the lists of those parties that win at least 3 percent of the national vote, instead of the existing 4 percent voting threshold. The adoption of a purely proportional system is a sine qua non for the Communist Party and the Socialist Party to support constitutional reforms that are being promoted by the presidential administration and the pro-government parliamentary majority. the chagrin of two opposition blocs

The Our Ukraine and Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc parliamentary caucuses, which oppose presidentially backed constitutional reforms, did not take part in the 5 March vote, the "Ukrayinska pravda" website ( reported. Our Ukraine leader Viktor Yushchenko called the electoral bill a "ticket to a coup," suggesting that the aim of the constitutional reforms currently under debate is to shift presidential prerogatives to the prime minister and allow the pro-government coalition to remain in power after the 2004 presidential election. "The law on the proportional election [system] that was adopted today is a banal bribe that was offered to opposition forces to ensure their support for the anti-constitutional mutiny," Yuliya Tymoshenko charged. "The law gives power to the [oligarchic] clans."

(RFE/RL 8.iii.04)

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