Facing a record number of candidates for one seat in parliament, the Party of Regions is looking to increase the number of electoral districts in the southern and eastern provinces and cut them in the west, a KW article wrote this week.

The acute shortage of majoritarian electoral districts for members of the Party of Regions is in Donetsk oblast, which is the heart of their support. At least three high-ranking party members lay claim to each proposed district, while local political analysts calculate that at least 40 MPs of the PoR say they belong to 23 previously approved majoritarian mandates in the province. And this does not take into account the great many government officials and influential entrepreneurs wanting to get an MP badge by hook or by crook. It came to a point whereby some MPs from the PoR suggested adding three new counties to Donetsk. This issue was, in fact, discussed by Olena Bondarenko and Oleksandr Kasyanyuk at their recent press conference in Donetsk, although neither is guaranteed of making it to the top of the list at the next elections. Both of them are oriented towards Vice Premier and leader of the PoR in Donetsk oblast Borys Kolesnykov, which means that the expansion proposal can be taken as the official view of leading businessman Rinat Akhmetov’s wing in the party leadership.

This gerrymandering is supported beyond Akhmetov and his friends and Donetsk, the heart of the ruling party. The distribution of electoral districts in Ukraine mostly depends not on some sort of primaries, recently promised by the First Deputy Head of the PoR Volodymyr Rybak, but on the fiat of higher circles. The real problem for the PoR is how to add districts where there is no natural place for them, but a solution was found by reducing the size of less supportive electoral districts, adding the detached territory to white-and-blue (colors of the PoR) districts and further subdividing them.

So far, the issue had been discussed in public only in Donetsk, but the idea is gaining traction less publicly in Luhansk, Odesa, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kharkiv provinces and in Simferopol. In addition to Donetsk, autonomous Crimea has laid claims for three additional electoral districts.

In this way, the ruling party not only resolves the deficit of its majoritarian candidates, but also the problem of preventing dozens of potential MPs from the opposition parties from winning a seat in Rada. When every mandate will be needed to form a parliamentary majority after the elections, the current division of districts should become a determining factor, the article concludes.