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A lady casts her ballot paper in a mobile ballot box during parliamentary election A lady casts her ballot paper in a mobile ballot box during parliamentary election  (ANSA)

Ukraine votes in snap election amid concerns over corruption

Voters in Ukraine are participating in the early parliamentary election which is expected to be won by the party of the recently elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The president hopes the new Parliament will tackle the endemic corruption in the former Soviet nation.

By Stefan J. Bos

Zelenskiy cast his ballot amid ongoing political and social turmoil.

Sunday's parliamentary election was overshadowed by mounting concerns about financial wrongdoing by influential figures ranging from powerfull business leaders to politicians, the police and even judges.

President Zelenskiy, who took office in May, called the election three months ahead of schedule because the Parliament was dominated by his opponents.

He seeks a majority that would support his promised fight against Ukraine's endemic corruption and for other reforms.

After voting, the comedian-turned-president seemed pleased with the media attention. He briefly spoke with reporters and made clear that the new Parliament's first tasks should be to "consider lifting parliament members' immunity from prosecution."

Difficult task

But introducing reforms won't be easy.

Analyst Olexyi Haran suggests that the recently elected president will have to learn to deal with a complicated political system. "We need to understand that Ukraine is not a presidential republic. It has a mixed system. And the government is formed according to parliamentary elections," he told Turkey's TRT World television.

"The president is not powerful. It is not a Russian model. The government is responsible to the Parliament, not to the president."
President Zelenskyi's newly-created party is expected to win as much as 52 percent of the vote. But the complicated voting system could see
his party is falling short of an absolute majority in the 424 seats-strong Verkhovna Rada parliament.

Ironically his "Servant of the People" party was named after the television comedy in which he played a teacher who unexpectedly becomes president.

Joining NATO

Besides tackling corruption, it wants Ukraine to join the NATO military alliance and the European Union.

A party led by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest associates, tycoon Viktor Medvedchuk, was polling in second place with about 10 percent. It wants Ukraine to focus on improving relations with Russia.

Those ties plummeted after Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in 2014. Also, tensions rose because of Moscow's support for pro-
Russian separatists fighting government troops in a war that killed more than 13,000 people.

At third place is the European Solidarity party of pro-Western former President Petro Poroshenko. Zelenskiy defeated Poroshenko in the country's spring presidential election at a time of growing public dissatisfaction with the political establishment.
 

21 July 2019, 17:02