REUTERS - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Sunday claimed a landlside victory for pro-western parties in the country's key parliamentary elections.
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More than half of the votes went to pro-government parties, and "a constitutional majority" of more than 75 per cent of voters supported the country's course towards Europe, Poroshenko said in a statement.
"The Ukrainian government won a compelling vote of confidence from the people," he said, adding that he will speed up reforms in the crisis-hit country.
And exit poll released after polls closed on Sunday said that the President's newly formed party, the Poroshenko Bloc, stands to get 23 per cent, followed by prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk's National Front with 21.3 per cent. The pro-European Samopomich party, led by the mayor of the western city of Lviv, came in third with 13.2 per cent.
Former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's Pro-western Fatherland party managed to just meet the 5-per-cent hurdle for staying in the legislature by getting 5.6 per cent, according to the national exit poll conducted by three polling institutes.
Yatsenyuk and many other prominent figures left the Fatherland party in August.
Also in parliament, according to the poll, are: the nationalist Svoboda party (6.3 per cent); the Radical Party of populist politician Oleh Lyashko (6.4 per cent); and the Russia-leaning Opposition Bloc party (7.6 per cent).
Among those who failed to get in are the Communists with 2.9 per cent and the nationalist Right Sector party with 2.4 per cent. However, exit polls predict that Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh won a direct seat in his native Dnipropetrovsk region, according to Svyatoslav Oliynyk, a deputy regional governor.
The Ukrainian Election Commission said that the turnout stood at 52.9 per cent per cent, based on figures from 115 of the 198 voting districts, the Interfax Ukraine news agency reported.
A dominance of pro-Western groups in the 450-seat unicameral parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, means a sharp break with the previous Rada, elected for a five-year period in 2012, which was dominated by Russia-leaning forces.
Poroshenko has said he hopes that the snap election will bring more stability to the crisis-hit country, where more than 3,600 people have been killed in a conflict with pro-Russian separatists in the east.
"I voted for Ukraine - single, indivisible, European," Poroshenko said on Twitter after casting his ballot in Kiev Sunday afternoon.
Earlier, the president showed up dressed in fatigues in a polling station in Kramatorsk, a city in the eastern Donetsk region that was recaptured by government forces in July.
Poroshenko said that he aimed to protect the right to vote of the more than 10,000 soldiers serving in the region.
Observers doubt, however, that a new government - expected to be formed as early as next week - will be able to end the fighting with pro-Russian separatists in the east quickly.
Security was tight on Sunday, and some 84,000 police officers were on duty throughout Ukraine to ensure a peaceful vote, the Interior Ministry said.
Voting did not take place in the districts controlled by the separatists, whose leaders have vowed to ignore Sunday's polls because they consider Ukraine a neighbouring state. They have set their own elections for November 2.
Turnout in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which are partly rebel-held, was much lower than elsewhere - just 31 per cent in Donetsk and 27 per cent in Luhansk, according to official figures.
Some 1.83 million voters were registered in both regions - only a fraction of their combined peacetime population of almost 7 million.
Overall, 36 million Ukrainians are eligible to cast a ballot.
The elections were not conducted in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that was annexed by Russia in March.
Because of these complications, not all of the 450 parliamentary seats will be filled.
Doris Barnett, a German lawmaker who heads the observer mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation's Parliamentary Assembly, said that the missing territories wouldn't affect the elections' legitimacy.
Those who claim otherwise try to discredit and disrupt the elections, said Barnett in comments reported by the Interfax Ukraine news agency.
The election commission head Mykhailo Okhendovskiy said that no significant violations were recorded.
Police said that they had thwarted attempts to falsify the vote by casting multiple ballots and Mustafa Nayyem, a prominent journalist who is standing for Poroshenko's party, said that his car was badly damaged when a mob of seven people attacked it while he was campaigning against vote fraud in the southern Kirovohrad region.