Ukraine Early Election Set for October

Ukrainians will vote in early parliamentary elections Oct. 26, called by President Petro Poroshenko to replace the ruling coalition that collapsed last month as the nation fights a pro-Russian insurgency.

Poroshenko announced the decision on Twitter yesterday. The governing alliance fell July 24, when two parties pulled out to force a snap vote. Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who became prime minister in February after months of protests turned deadly and led to the ouster of ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, will remain in a caretaker role until his successor is installed.

Ukrainians will elect a legislature that will pick a government to run the country wracked by nine months of political turmoil, violence, military insurgency, and economic hardship. The nation is locked in a conflict with Russia, its biggest trading partner, which annexed the Crimea peninsula in March. The government in Kiev accuses the Kremlin of stoking the separatist unrest in its easternmost regions that has cost thousands of lives, including civilians.

“This is the only correct and responsible decision,” Poroshenko said in a statement on his website. “The composition of parliament doesn’t represent the political leanings of Ukrainian society. Society has changed so fast that lawmakers haven’t been able to keep up with its historic pace.”

Lawmakers will continue to work until a new parliament is elected, and their most important task is to vote on the ratification of the nation’s trade agreement with the European Union, Poroshenko said.

IMF Lifeline

The conflict, which Russia says it isn’t involved in, is draining the country’s resources, leaving the government to rely on a $17 billion lifeline from the International Monetary Fund. The economy will shrink 6 percent this year, according to the government.

The hryvnia has lost 39 percent against the dollar this year, the worst performance among more than 170 currencies tracked by Bloomberg.

Calling a snap ballot to replace the legislature dominated by Yanukovych’s Party of Regions was among the pre-election pledges of Poroshenko, who won a May 25 presidential vote with 55 percent support. Power in the legislation shifted as more than 60 percent of Yanukovych’s allies quit his party since December.

‘Pro-European Majority’

Poroshenko’s Solidarity party had 17.5 percent backing, according to a June 28-July 10 poll by the sociology research company Rating. A party led by Oleh Lyashko, a lawmaker who is a proponent of military action against pro-Russian separatists, was at 9.8 percent and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna party had 8.5 percent. The survey of 4,000 eligible voters has a margin of error of 1.5 percentage points.

“People want snap elections and they can’t be delayed,” Oleksiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, said by phone. “We will see a pro-European majority in the new parliament. The government that’s formed will face enormous challenges and pressures.”

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