Ukrainian opposition strategy and the new (old) electoral system

Interfax reports that the opposition parties in Ukraine have agreed to a ‘one constituency – one candidate’ principle, under which they will not compete against one another in the single-seat districts.

Although the headline of the story says the parties have agreed to “form single list”, that may not be correct. They may still be presenting separate party lists for the seats allocated by proportional representation, although it is not clear.

The behavior in the single-seat constituencies is, however, precisely what we would anticipate under the MMM system that is being restored this year. Because (presumably) half the seats will be allocated to the plurality winner in each of (225) single-seat districts, and because the list-PR seats are not compensatory, parties that have some common interests would have a strong incentive to form a pre-electoral coalition. In doing so, they would be following the precedent of parties in Japan’s and Hungary’s MMM systems, which joined into two blocs to avoid the “spoiler” problem. (In those cases, the parties generally have presented separate party lists.)

For the 2006 and 2007 legislative elections, Ukraine used an exclusively closed-list PR system in one nationwide district. Prior to that, it had been MMM for 2002 and 1998. At that time, there was little coordination in the single-seat districts, many of which were won by non-party candidates. Now the party system is much more developed–aided in large part by the two PR elections.

The news story also indicates that the parties promise they would form a government together if they won a majority jointly. If they did so, it would lead to a potentially lengthy case of cohabitation, as the presidency is not up for election till 2015.

The legislative elections are set for 28 October.

(There are several earlier entries here on Ukraine’s elections and the former electoral system. Just click the country name at the top, and go a-scrolling.)

3 thoughts on “Ukrainian opposition strategy and the new (old) electoral system

  1. Under the new law it should be impossible to form joint lists. Electoral Blocs have been banned, which means a lot of small parties, currently in parliament, which were banding together, will have to come up with another alternative. Additionally, the threshold has been raised from 3% to 5%, meaning many parties with seats in parliament will not be able to make the cut this time around. Just about every aspect of the new electoral law will make it much harder for existing smaller parties.

  2. Why doesn’t Ukraine just use MMP? Would that be better than MMM?

    Since they were using nation-wide PR, why did they just use open party list by regions? That would be more proportionate.

  3. All I can do is just backwards-induce the preferences of those who enacted the new electoral law, based on the known outcome. That outcome suggests preferences on both inter-party and intra-party dimensions: less proportionality without too much less centralization.

    MMP would have meant enhanced local representation but with retention of full PR, and OLPR also would have meant full PR, but with far less central control over a party’s legislative caucus.

    If you want a substantial reduction in proportionality along with an increase in local representation, but without fully undermining central control, then MMM is an obvious choice.

    By the way, I am told that the threshold on the list seats will be raised to 5% (previously 3%). And there may be a prohibition on being a candidate simultaneously in both tiers.

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