Brian Mefford

  • Let’s Do the Numbers: What Would Ukraine's Parliament Look Like if Elections Were Held Today?

    Ukraine will likely avoid early parliamentary elections this year. Some analysts feared that early elections would bring populists to power, while others reasoned that they might bring more reformers into parliament. Barring a collapse of the thin parliamentary majority that made Volodomyr Groisman Ukraine’s prime minister on April 14, he has one year to perform before he can be dismissed. This timeframe means that there won’t be parliamentary elections until the summer of 2017 at the earliest. However, that has not stopped Ukraine’s politicians from jockeying and preparing for future elections.

    Based on an average of the four latest polls asking members of the public who they would support if parliamentary elections were held today, the numbers show that Yulia...

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  • Moldova’s Presidential Election Pits Pro-Europe Candidates Against Pro-Russia Ones

    Moldova’s presidential elections are shaping up to divide the electorate between pro-Europe and pro-Russia candidates even before campaigning officially gets underway.

    On April 1, Moldova’s Parliament voted to hold direct presidential elections on October 30. It put off the official start of the election campaign until July 30 to allow Parliament time to pass electoral legislation and fill vacant seats in the Central Election Commission. The vote in Parliament followed a surprise Constitutional Court decision on March 4 that struck down a 2000 amendment, which required a supermajority of sixty-one out of 101 members of Parliament to select a President. The political consensus required to obtain such a supermajority turned out to be more difficult than anyone had expected.  In fact, a failure to achieve a supermajority led to a 900-day period between September 2009 and March 2012 when Moldova lacked an elected President.

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  • What If Parliamentary Elections Were Held in Ukraine Today?

    With Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s government surviving a no-confidence vote on February 16 and the parliamentary coalition splintering the next day, early parliamentary elections are now possible this year. New elections could be triggered by three scenarios: first, if the current majority coalition in parliament collapses and a new majority isn’t formed within thirty days; second, if Yatsenyuk resigns early, or is dismissed in the next session of parliament (which starts in late August), and parliament can’t agree on a replacement; or third, if parliament votes no confidence in the prime minister. In all cases, the President has the right (though not the obligation) to dismiss parliament and call new elections.

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  • Making Sense of Ukraine’s Local Elections: Voters Put Multiple Parties in Office

    As the ballots are counted in Ukraine's November 15 runoff elections, the preliminary results show no national mandate or overarching themes. Instead, in a positive step for the country's democratic development, voters dispersed power widely and put multiple political parties into office. Here's a quick rundown of the big races and the big surprises:

    Kyiv: Incumbent Vitaly Klitchko defeated Boryslav Bereza 64 to 32 percent. Bereza, an independent MP known for his reportedly white supremacist views, narrowly defeated Samopomich's candidate to make the runoff. While there was never any doubt that Klitchko would ultimately triumph, the real loser is the city of Kyiv for propelling Bereza into the runoff and giving him a surprising 32 percent. The Kremlin propaganda machine just received an early Christmas gift from the residents of Kyiv.

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  • Will Saakashvili’s Defeat in Odesa Be His Ukrainian Waterloo?

    Odesa Mayor Gennadiy Trukhanov trounced Solidarity Party's Sasha Borovik by 53-26 percent in Ukraine's local elections October 25. Observers reported carousel voting, multiple voting lists, exit poll workers agitating for candidates, and a suspiciously slow vote count.

    The race for Odesa mayor was a proxy war between Oblast Governor Mikheil Saakashvili and oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who has deep business interests in the city. Saakashvili initially campaigned for Borovik, while Kolomoyskyi backed Trukhanov.

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  • Ukraine Goes to the Polls: Kolomoyskyi Is King Again

    As the ballots are counted in Ukraine's October 25 local elections, early returns and exit polls indicate some surprises. The big story is that oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi came out on top. Kolomoyskyi, former governor of Dnipropetrovsk who was dismissed in March by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for his overreach, backed candidates who look set to win in Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, and Odesa. If successful, Kolomoyskyi will control the mayor's office in the country's three largest cities outside Kyiv, and gain bragging rights in his ongoing war with Poroshenko.

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  • Ukrainians Eager to Go to Polls

    In less than a week, Ukrainians go to the polls to elect mayors, city councils, and regional councils, and they're eager to do so. A recent poll carried out by the International Republican Institute found that 75 percent of Ukrainians are very likely or somewhat likely to vote on October 25. A new law requires a runoff election if no mayoral candidate receives a majority in cities with more than 90,000 people, which adds an element of suspense. Runoff elections are slated for November 15, and analysts expect second rounds in approximately 35 cities, including Kyiv, Odesa, and Dnipropetrovsk. Here's the latest on races in Ukraine's five largest cities holding elections:

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  • Snapshots of Ukraine's Five Hottest Elections

    Ukrainians go to the polls on October 25 to elect mayors and city councils. These local elections matter more than one might expect. The likely passage of a constitutional amendment on decentralization by parliament later this year will give the newly elected mayors and councils more autonomy and authority than ever before.

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  • Ukraine's Fall Elections Matter More Than You Think

    With less than 80 days before election day in Ukraine, mayoral races are already heating up. Parliament approved a new election law that does two things: Ukraine will use an open-list system and the country will hold runoffs for mayors in larger cities. These two features combined with the potential decentralization reforms being debated by parliament make the October 25 local elections more important than previous ones.

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  • Why Saakashvili's Appointment as Odesa's Governor Actually Makes Perfect Sense

    On May 30, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko named former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili Governor of the Odesa region. There are a number of ways to interpret the bold move, but two historical analogies may be more apt: Saakashvili is either following in Duke of Richelieu's footsteps as an outside Governor of Odesa or the late CIA Director Richard Helms' path. Ukrainian politics are murky, but in Saakashvili's case, the motivation behind his appointment looks like a mixed bag. Saakashvili has been simultaneously promoted and exiled.
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