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World

Ukraine's president urges people to support cutting number of lawmakers

  • Zelenskiy came up with the idea of a special vote asking people to express their views on the size of parliament alongside other issues when local polls are held on Oct. 25.
16 Oct 2020

KYIV: President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged Ukrainians on Friday to help him push a plan through parliament to reduce the number of lawmakers by taking part in an advisory vote alongside local elections this month.

Zelenskiy, a former television actor who won a landslide election victory in April 2019, on pledges shake up Ukrainian's political system and tackle corruption, initiated the draft law which cuts the number of lawmakers to 300 from a current 450.

"If people say "yes", not a single politician - no matter how much he has financial, media or party influence - can object to the will of the people," Zelenskiy's office said in a statement.

Zelenskiy came up with the idea of a special vote asking people to express their views on the size of parliament alongside other issues when local polls are held on Oct. 25.

His opponents have described it as manipulation and an attempt to attract his supporters to polling stations to boost turnout amid coronavirus fears.

The country, which reported a record daily high of new 5,992 COVID-19 cases on Friday, has logged 5,408 deaths from the virus.

In February, the parliament, where the presidential party "Servant of the People" holds a 246 member majority, passed the draft in the first reading. But the bill needs at least 300 votes for final approval which entails changes in the Constitution.

It says a decrease in the number of people's representatives would increase competition and thereby encourage lawmakers to represent their voters' interests more closely.

Zelenskiy's special vote also asks people to express their views on several other issues, such as legalising cannabis for medical need and increasing punishment for corruption up to life imprisonment.

As an advisory vote, it has no legal weight per se, but he has promised to introduce legislative amendments, which he is entitled to do, to implement the views which emerge.