Ukrainian parliamentary elections: What are the seven key takeaways?

Preliminary results from Ukraine’s parliamentary elections showed comedian-turned-president Volodymyr Zelensky looked set to be the country’s first leader to command an overall majority in parliament since the fall of communism.

Read more |Ukraine election: Zelensky’s party set to win big in parliamentary vote

The Central Election Commission (CEC) said his ruling party, Servant of the People — named after the TV sitcom that made him famous, had secured 42.35% of the votes after almost a half had been counted on Monday.

Here are our top takeaways from the elections:

1) Demand for new faces defines results

While in the previous parliament 56% of members were new to politics, this time, that figure could be as high as 70%.

This hints at the fact people are tired of corruption, poverty, and slow reforms and want the political system to be changed together with the politicians responsible for it.

However, according to the election watchdog CHESNO, Servant of the People and Voice (famous Ukrainian musician Svyatoslav Vakarchuk’s liberal and pro-European party), which promised to bring only new faces into parliament, put forward the assistants many old MPs — they represent around 100 seats when considering both parties.

2) Ukrainians are choosing Europe, but not all of them

Viktor Yanukovitch, the former president ousted during the Ukrainian revolution of 2014, was supported by roughly half the population when he was elected in 2010.

Today, parties created on the wreckage of Yanukovich’s pro-Russia Party of Regions look to have claimed around 15-17% of votes, mostly in the south and east of the country.

In these areas, voters are less concerned with Europe, and in some cases even Russia, they are more motivated by promises to put an end to the ongoing conflict in the region.

Russophile parties like Opposition Platform — For life and Opposition Bloc have promised to restore peace and order in the country.

3) ‘Clone’ candidates appear on ballots

Only 225 of the 424 seats are elected from nationwide party lists, with the remaining 199 seats attributed through a first-past-the-post system. The latter presents the possibility for election fraud, Vita Dumanska from CHESNO told Euronews.

Candidates with the same name as those from lead parties are registered on ballot papers so that people get confused when voting — this can cost the lead candidates 2-3% of their support, she said.

One solution is for candidates to pay for their “clones” to pull out of the election race. Some even pay for someone with the same name as their rival to appear on the ballot paper.

As many as eight Zelenskyis were registered at this election as well as several organisations with similar names to his Servant of the People party.

4) Indirect vote-buying still happens

Attempts to buy people’s votes are still rife, especially rural areas of Ukraine, Dumanska said.

While it was once most commonly in exchange for food, this year, indirect vote-buying in return for concerts and other services was more common, she added.

In some cases, four to six concerts were organised by different parties for one constituency in a day.

5) The electoral campaign trail is expensive

Thousands of billboards, leaflets, TV adverts and posts on Facebook went into this year’s election.

Around 80% of declared campaign expenses were spent on TV advertising.

Campaigning on social media is often not declared, while its prevalence only grows, Olha Aivazovska from the OPORA movement — an initiative overseeing elections and democratic change in Ukraine — told Euronews.

6) Oligarchs are still present

While political pluralism in Ukraine was to be encouraged, oligarchs can “unfortunately” be partly credited for this, Aivazovska said.

Oligarchs both contribute financially to political parties and own TV channels where candidates want to get visibility during the election campaign, she explained.

7) The time for joking is over

If the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections are confirmed tomorrow, with a bigger representation in parliament Zelenskyi and his party will be more accountable for decisions.

Expectations that they will bring change in Ukraine are high and he will have to deliver.

Read the full article at: euronews.com