Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is reportedly pushing to adopt a single-round presidential election in 2015, as he looks to pre-empt any attempt by the opposition to unite and mount a serious challenge.
According to a report by Ukrayinska Pravda on March 29, unnamed sources in the Party of Regions say the president hopes to push through a constitutional change to make the next election a one shot deal.
According to recent polls, none of the parties expected to contest the election will surpass the 50% support needed to win in a first round. However, if elections were held tomorrow, Yanukovych would win a straight race, followed closely by UDAR party leader and world boxing champion Vitali Klitschko.
According to current opinion polls, 20.7% of respondents would vote for Yanukovych, 14.4% for Klitschko, 11.3% for Batkivschyna faction leader Arseniy Yatseniuk, 6.6% for Svoboda Party leader Oleh Tiahnybok, and 4.8% for Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko.
The move to make it a single-round race suggests Yanukovych is afraid of facing Klitschko - or another opponent - in a second round run off. While the president enjoys solid support from his constituency of Russophiles, the opposition vote in western Ukraine is split by several viable candidates. However, in a run off the opposition is like to rally around any opponent to the incumbent.
In addition, Yanukovych's Party of Regions will try to dissolve the uncontrollable Verkhovna Rada after a constitutional referendum imposing a double-chamber legislature. The lower chamber will be elected on the first-past-the-pole system, which would guarantee Regions a win. The referendum law passed last year envisages direct implementation of its results.
The moves are part of Yanukovych's on-going attempt to undo the pillars of democracy and ensure his continued grip on power.
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