Ukraine’s 35 million voters go to the polls today to elect a new parliament. Despite the government’s unpopularity President Viktor Yanukovich’s ruling Party of Regions looks set for victory.
A weakening economy and widespread corruption has increased support for opposition candidates but there have been accusations of intimidation.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have sent in monitors.
“This is the largest OSCE election observation mission in the OSCE’s history. Combined with the European Parliament, Council of Europe, and the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE, there are more than 800 international observers who are on the ground in Ukraine,” said OSCE spokesman Neil Simon.
The Party of Regions which is backed by wealthy industrialists and can draw on state and regional facilities and resources is banking on the majority of voters backing the status quo.
Meanwhile the joint opposition which includes the party of jailed rival Yulia Tymoshenko is calling on voters to stop an imminent dictatorship if Yanukovich’s party wins. There is also the prospect of an emerging star new to the political scene; boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko could make an impact should he be elected.