Update on Ukraine 2019 Parliamentary Elections
WASHINGTON, D.C. July 23, 2019
For the first time since Ukraine gained independence in 1991, the President’s party ‘Servant of the People’ controls a majority in the parliament (Verkhovna Rada), with 251 of 450 seats, after elections were held on Sunday, July 21.

Standing in opposition, ‘For Life,’ the main opposition and pro-Kremlin party headed by Viktor Medvedchuk has 44 seats; former President Petro Poroshenko’s party ‘European Solidarity’ and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s party ‘Homeland’ each accrued 26 seats. Sources are reporting that the ‘Voice Party’, led by famous Ukrainian rock-star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, might form a coalition with ‘Servant of the People,’ adding its 20 seats to create a supermajority. Other parties hold 8 seats, 48 seats are held by unaffiliated members, and 26 seats remain vacant due to the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine (Donbass).
The majority of new MP’s from ‘Servant of the People’ have either little or no political experience, and very little information is publicly available about most of them. Zelenskyy may call for local elections now to further consolidate power.

Speaking with Jewish activists on the ground, NCSEJ representative in Ukraine Ilya Bezruchko learned that in light of the election results, most of them expressed hope for Ukraine’s future. Jewish activists also told Bezruchko that they hope Ukraine will become a more democratic state, one which participates in international institutions that fight xenophobia and anti-Semitism. They also hope that Ukraine will adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.

Under Ukraine's mixed election system, half the Verkhovna Rada's seats are determined by votes on party lists and the rest are first-past-the-post constituency races. Turnout for the election was approximately 50%, and over 90% of polls have now reported in.

President Zelenskyy’s legislative objectives remain unclear. Chief among his priorities will likely be advancing the peace framework regarding the war in the east. He will need to strike a balance between engaging in dialogue with the Kremlin and distancing himself from the negotiating tactics advocated by the Pro-Kremlin ‘For Life’ party. Other legislative priorities may include a sweeping anti-corruption campaign and tackling stagnant wages. There is essentially no visible plan or outline to tackle any of these policy issues.

At the moment, Ukraine’s constitution grants no powers to the political minority in the Verkhovna Rada. While such powers have been proposed, they have never been codified into law by an acting administration, and it is doubtful that Zelenskyy will break this trend.

Regarding the appointment of a Prime Minister, the Zelenskyy camp has not made their intentions clear on this front. There are several potential appointees, but his camp has expressed no strong preference.

The official election results are continuing to come in, and NCSEJ will update you once the vote totals and MPs have been verified by Ukraine’s election commission, which should occur within 10 working days.

Report prepared by David Pasmanik, NCSEJ Program Associate
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 Founded in 1971, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.