Half price sale on Rada seats

By bne IntelliNews January 27, 2012

bne -

The multitude of Ukrainian businesspeople that reportedly pay through the nose for the benefits that a parliamentary seat offers are delighted to find that an upcoming rejig of the country's election system could cut the price by half.

To the joy of businesspeople seeking legal immunity, lobbying possibilities and other potential benefits that deputy status confers, Ukraine is reintroducing single-seat constituencies for half of the 450 seats in the unicameral national Rada in the run-up to parliamentary elections in October 2012.

When Ukraine's Rada isn't busy resembling a 19th century English riot - complete with egg-throwing - you could be forgiven for thinking you'd stumbled into a corporate conference given the number of seats occupied by the country's business fraternity. These deputies from the commercial world can now hope for a cheaper route into parliament than via the closed party lists used for elections since 2005, according to the chairman of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine, Oleksandr Chernenko, reports Interfax-Ukraine. "Earlier, people wanted to hide in the party list and not to be put to the vote in constituencies, but today the prices in party lists have grown significantly. They say that in the [ruling] Party of Regions, prices in the upper part of the election list have grown to $10m, and many businessmen don't think they should pay such money, as they can conduct a good, successful campaign for half as much in a constituency," Chernenko was quoted as saying.

The electoral change is driven by the sharp drop in the approval ratings of the ruling Party of Regions. The new mixed electoral system will split the route to the Rada in half, with 225 members elected via the closed party lists, in which political parties will compete for seats in a single nationwide constituency. The other 225 single member constituencies, meanwhile, are designed as a hedge against a poor result on the party lists, the vote in single-member constituencies being less determined by party preferences, and the members, once elected, more flexible in their voting preferences.

Ukraine's Central Election Commission has to draw up the 225 single-member constituencies by April 30 and publish them by May 5. Parliamentary elections are slated for October 28, with campaigning to start on July 30.

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