Quick Impressions On Ukraine Elections 2012

AP asks:

No article about the Ukrainian parliamentary elections?

Unfortunately, no, as I’m very busy this week. But some quick impressions:

(1) My initial predictions for the elections. We’ll see how I do relative to about 70 other people soon enough.

[tweet https://twitter.com/AnatolyKarlin/status/262371694809841666]

(2) As the results came in, with PoR getting 37% of the vote after a count of 30% of the ballots, I began to strongly suspect widespread fraud, as it is 7% above the exit poll average (and 5% above the highest, 32%). However, with 75% of the ballots now counted, and PoR down to 33%, I am likely to have been premature with these assessments.

(3) That said, I agree with AP’s assessment that a first past the post system in the regions was an artificial trick to keep PoR in power (as Hungary’s reforms in the past year have done something similar for Fidesz… and failed to do it for Georgia’s UNM). I would not however go quite as far as to say that “first-past-the-post in a multiparty situation without runoffs does not reflect the people’s will.” If so then this can be said all the more so of the UK’s elections, which are dominated by three main parties and have no proportional element at all – making the weakest of them, the Lib Dems, permanently disadvantaged.

(4) AP also writes:

The communists and Party of Regions together got only 16% support in Kiev. I think the myth of Kiev (and central Ukraine in general) being some sort of “Little Russia” more tied to Russia’s orbit than to the West can be laid to rest.

To the extent I view it as a “Little Russia” it’s as a region that is similar to Russia but with its own sense of independent agency (after all 80% of the conversations in the streets are in Russian… or to take a less salutary example, it’s not like Kiev is any less corrupt than Moscow). All in all, a bit like, say, Germany and Austria.

(5) Map of election results abroad. No-one familiar with the US and Canadian Ukrainian diaspora should be surprised at Svoboda’s victory there.

(6) Two differences from Russian elections. First, Russia has no majoritarian element (if it did, then UR would now have a Constitutional majority too). Second, Ukraine unlike Russia doesn’t seem to be releasing station-level data, which makes analysis of any electoral fraud much more difficult. The data for individual stations has appeared.


  1. ad 2) – Crimea, Donetsk, and Dnepropetrovsk regions were counted much faster than the rest (it’s still less that 40% in Kiev region but close to 99% in Donetsk). So the pattern is very clear.

    ad 3) USA is even worse in this respect – third party candidates could break into a two-way contest only in a small number of cases. Most Tea Party candidates were elected by hijacking the local Republican Party first.

    ad 4) (AP’s comments): big cities in Russia are also voting against current Russian powers that be. And Moscow and St Petersburg do speak Russian.

    ad 6) I still remember that elimination of first-by-the-post part in Russian elections was considered to be an evidence of the democracy’s death. It took many months before critics understood the obvious. Now we just see the evidence of the fact that it’s easier to keep party of power in power in first-by-the-post elections. And these guys didn’t gerrymandering yet!

  2. I think that a first-past-the-post system does not always not reflect the people’s will. But in some cases it does not. In Ukraine you have three parties calling for Yanukovich to be impeached – UDAR, United Oppostion, and Svoboda. So if in a given district 30% of the people vote for PR, 25% UDAR, 25% United Opposotion, and 10% Svoboda, you have 60% of the people in the district voting for parties that want to impeach Yanukovich, yet they are being represented in the parliament by Yanukovich’s man. In cases such as this the election results are clearly against the people’s will. I suspect in these elections there are many situations like that.

    Generally I don’t disagree with your obseravations, though an analogy of English-speaking Dublin with respect to Kiev might be a little more applicable.

    • A logical error here is in reducing the whole spectrum of electoral issues to a single dimension – pro/contra president. Svoboda is extreme right-wing/nationalist while United Opposition could be leaning social democrats, at least if/when Timoshenko gets out of jail. Those people who preferred one to the other probably knew what they were doing, and instead of concentrating all eggs in one basket has spread them among the three major opposition parties.

      • Sure, but I have no doubt that if forced to choose between United Opposition or the Party of Regions, almost every Svoboda (or UDAR) supporter would choose the former.

        • a) are you sure this would also be the choice if you offered Svoboda vs PoR matchup?
          b) once again, your hypothetical is forcing a one-dimensional split. People do care about more issues, and that’s exactly why there are typically more parties than two if the electoral system allows it.

          • a) I think the Party of Regions would win if the choice were Svoboda vs. PR. It would be like that French election when Le Pen got into the second round. But in a runoff either UDAR or United Opposition would beat the Party of Regions.

            • I’m actually talking about a design of a voting system. Surely, I could easily give you a set of preferences which gives horrible results for any given system.

              You say that in particular circumstances of Ukraine, FPtP is particularly bad. Apparently, the opposition believed otherwise when this was re-introduced. I also don’t believe you are correct – most people care more about their pensions and good jobs than Orange vs Coal, anyway, and the core of UO proved to be as (in)competent as PoR already.

              • “I also don’t believe you are correct – most people care more about their pensions and good jobs than Orange vs Coal, anyway, and the core of UO proved to be as (in)competent as PoR already.”

                Sure, but how one expresses their attitudes towards pensions and good jobs is likely determined by the region they are from. For someone from Orange Ukraine, closer ties to the EU, development of small businesses, and other things on UDAR’s or UO’s platforms might be seen as the keys to good jobs. For someone from the South or East, customs union with Russia and support (through Russia-subsidized cheap gas) of local heavy industries might be the best perceived way to do it.

  3. I seem to remember some time ago a debate in which it was claimed that the “Orange” parties would somehow gain some kind of majority in this 2012 election based it seems on the assumption the low poll numbers at the time for the Party of Regions would continue into the election. Yet as I expected the Party of Regions played politics very well by pushing through legislation (the local language law) that would curry some favour with its base (which at the time of the low poll numbers when the PoR was polling in the teens). Once that happened I expected support for the PoR to be restored (even if not enthusiastically) among it’s base (which would probably prefer to spoil a ballot before voting for Tymoshenko’s party or Svoboda in majorities). This was being reflected in a wide variety of polls leading up to the election (so it would be rather difficult to claim the polls were all commissioned by the PoR or manipulated by the PoR).

    Now we see that given the preliminary results with between 75-80% of the results counted the PoR and the communists (which can’t be described as an “Orange” party by any stretch of the imagination) have just under 33% and a bit over 14% of the proportional vote respectively. When considering the 5% threshold and that the combined percentages of all the parties that passed this threshold is 93% then the PoR and communists would be expected to get 47% of the vote out of the 93% of the vote which will determine the seats. And 47/93 = about 50%. Which is about what one should expect given that the various regions in which the PoR and communists poll strongly accounts for about half of Ukraine’s population. Of course this means the anti-PoR/communist parties would also get about 50% and this would also be rather expected since the regions from which they draw support also account for around 50% of Ukraine’s population.

    Thus as was said back then, large majorities by either the “Orange” or “anti-Orange” factions in Ukrainian politics seem only possible if the voting base of one of these factions stays home in droves (Indeed the voter turnout map of the election as shown on Wikipedia has voters turning out in higher percentages in areas outside of the PoR/communist electoral stronghold of the east and south). In the “Orange” stronghold of the country, Svoboda (and UDAR to a lesser extent) essentially captured Our Ukraine’s voter base (in Galicia) while UDAR (and to a lesser extent Svoboda) managed to poach some of Tymoshenko’s electoral base (and probably managed to poach some of the PoR electoral base in the case of UDAR).

    Over at Austere Insomniac, Alexander Mercouris made the case that Ukraine is essentially divided into 3 regions with 2 of those regions constituting what would be the area of traditional “Orange” electoral support. However given the differences between these two regions it seems these differences will at times manifest as differences among the political parties which draw their support from these regions and this might explain why the Orange coalition fell apart in the way it did and why Svoboda did not join with Tymoshenko’s party to form a single unified opposition party (and why they still don’t seem likely to do so even though they and UDAR have pledeged to work with the Unified Opposition/Fatherland party in parliament).

    With regards to the first-past-the-post system, I have to wonder if the PoR came up with the idea for instituting it following the results of the 2010 local elections where the PoR gained power in a number of local bodies (which I suspect was due to a plurality type system like first-past-the post) and 2008 Kiev elections (where the PoR gained a plurality as well).

    Out of all the parties involved I would expect UDAR has the best opportunity going into the future to break the electoral deadlock by perhaps being appealing to voters who traditionally vote for Tymoshenko’s party or for PoR but who are looking for something new and different.

    • Based on all exit polls the “Orange” parties would have a slight majority in terms of sheer party preference. Because the western regions are being counted more slowly the preliminary results are slightly favoring the PR.

      Alexander’s arguments reflect what I’d been writing for some time – that Ukraine can (simplistically) be divided into three regions. A nationalistic rightwing western region that politically resembled central European countries, a moderate liberal-nationalistic-leftist central region, and a more Russophile or Communist-leaning region.

      • Good! This means you accept that there are differences between Svoboda, UDAR, and UO. Therefore, it doesn’t make much sense to simply write S + U + UO equals anti-Yanukovich coalition. Especially in places where S, U, and UO didn’t bother to leave just one candidate which would fight PoR one.

        In any event, these were the rules of the game. Politicians are supposed to be smart enough to read textbooks and see what to do given such rules. Imagining hypothetical match-ups is an exercise in futility.

        • I never denied that there were differences between these parties. But the fact that there are differences does not mean that S + U + UO voters generally prefer each other’s candidates to PR.*

          I wasn’t discussing hypothetical matchups, but rather mentioning that the final election results will not reflect what people want. If in a district 30% of the people vote for PR, 25% UDAR, 25% United Oppostion and 10% Svoboda, a PR person representing that region does not reflect what people there want. The smartness or not of the opposotion parties dividing the Orange pie amongst themselves and thereby handing the single-district election to the other party (whose much smaller pie is undivided) does not change the fact that in such situations the people’s will is not reflected in their representative.

          Ukraine’s division basically guarantees that no side will get more than about 55% of support. All things being equal, the Orange side probably has an approximately 2% “natural” advantage, given previous election patterns.

          Coming back to one of AK’s points, Ukraine currently seems to be less democratic than Russia.

          *Taking into account that this may not be generally true of UO and U preferring S.

          • “I wasn’t discussing hypothetical matchups, but rather mentioning that the final election results will not reflect what people want.”

            I think we have to agree to disagree here, and the question is rather deep and philosophical. You cannot reduce “what people want” to a single dimension, and especially to just two alternatives. People have their preferences which are elucidated through polls, focus groups, reaction to media, demonstrations, talk in queues, etc. Political entrepreneurs create parties and blocks and engage in PR campaigns in order to persuade share of people that they are best positioned to fulfill some of their wants. People don’t necessarily vote the party that’s closest to their wants according to some metrics – some would never vote for a party that has no chance to enter the parliament, for example. Rules of the game (elections) determine the behavior of political entrepreneurs, their block-making activity, etc. Therefore, an outcome of the vote is a function of the whole distribution of people’s preferences, plus the rules of the game. And it cannot be otherwise.

            I fail to see how anyone could understand “what the people want” in any other way. Elections are, by definition, not a plebiscite or a referendum which might have a single issue vote. If Svoboda forces a referendum on ethnic cleansing of moscali, for example, then, by seeing the results, we would be able to answer the question “what the people want”. On this particular issue.

            • In runoffs (or if voters were allowed to rank-order candidates, which would be a solution to having to have runoffs) people do reduce their choices to one of two.

              I agree that people have many different preferences. But would an UDAR supporter really be more likely to choose a PR candidate over a UO candidate? My point is that it dodesn’t seem to really reflect voters’ will, if 60% or 70% of them in a district vote for one of several opposition candidates and because it is first-past-the-post the guy whom all of the other candidates is opposed to, ends up representing this district with his 30% (undivided) support.

              I guess we will agree to disagree. I appreciate your civil tone.

              • I agree with AP on this.

                If the UO was truly a united opposition, it would have certainly won the proportional vote, and very likely the representational one despite PR’s much stronger adminresource.

                That said, I should note that support fluctuates widely; the economic climate is as important as ingrained cultural difference. For instance, were it now booming, I’m sure that PR would be getting 40% or even 50% of the vote, not the 30% or so it actually is.

              • I have little to add to this discussion. I agree with AP that the first past the post system is intrinsically unfair especially in a country like the Ukraine where it dispoportionately favours the party that comes first even if the aggregate vote of all the other parties which might oppose it are greater. Its effect I feel sure will be to give Yanukovitch a majority in the parliament and I am sure that was the reason for introducing it. I understand that the opposition parties in the Ukraine actually agreed to this change in the electoral system that was obviously intended to favour the Party of the Regions. I find this completely baffling and it does make me wonder about their political judgement.

                PS: Three questions to AP:

                1. What in your opinion explains the increase in the Communist vote over the previous election and where is it happening since as far as I can see there has been no significant decline in the Party of the Region’s vote?

                2. Who actually did win in Kiev? Did Svoboda do well there?

                3. I presume that the Party of the Region and the Communists swept the board in the south and east and Svoboda did the same in the far west (in Lvov etc). Am I right in thinking that the biggest proportion of the votes for the United Opposition and UDAR came in the centre? If so which of these parties came first?

              • Dear AP,

                I have just seen your comment on Anatoly’s Open Thread and I understand that Svoboda did win a quarter of the votes in Kiev so you can ignore that question. I’d still be interested to know who exactly did win in Kiev? In fact do you have the results for Kiev?

                @Hunter, I remember the discussion earlier this year. Obviously Yanukovitch has turned things around. I suspect the language law had a lot to do with it. The truth however is that voting in the Ukraine seems to be on essentially sectional lines so that people in the east and south will always vote for Yanukovitch even if they do so without enthusiasm. Because of the size of his section (much the biggest in the Ukraine) this gives him a much bigger political base than that of any other Ukrainian politician, which is why he was able to bounce back after the debacle of 2004 and why he was able to pull things together in this election despite his unpopularity earlier this year and (one senses) the general lack of enthusiasm for him.

                In some ways the most interesting region of the Ukraine politically is the centre since this seems to be the only part of the Ukraine where there is genuine political competition and a wide spectrum of opinion in contrast to the political monocultures of the east and west.

            • @Alexander

              “@Hunter, I remember the discussion earlier this year. Obviously Yanukovitch has turned things around. I suspect the language law had a lot to do with it. The truth however is that voting in the Ukraine seems to be on essentially sectional lines so that people in the east and south will always vote for Yanukovitch even if they do so without enthusiasm.”

              Yes I agree. And I also remember that was one of the points that was raised in the debate to caution against the idea that some kind of “Orange” coalition could gain anything other than a slim majority over the PoR/communists.

              • I note also that, generally speaking, Yanukovich quickly reversed a very bad economic situation brought about by the Orange Squabblers. He was left with some lingering effects because colour revolution governments seem to be following a pattern – get control of exit polling, force a runoff, win the election (always a clean one, once the evil Russophile has been driven off), borrow a ton of money and start chucking it into projects that are supposed to generate employment. I’ve noticed this in both Georgia and Ukraine, characterized by a steady rise in GDP per capita but no corresponding GDP growth, and rising inflation as people have more money to spend but the other checks and balances of a healthy economy are not present. It’s not a bad plan, per se, and it probably should have worked in both cases, although it failed in both and left serious economic consequences for the incoming governments. As I say, Yanukovich settled into the traces fairly quickly and reversed some of the damage.

                Quite a lot of people who claim to be fed up with the status quo when it’s survey time chicken out when it’s crunch time and they have to make a decision, and vote the economy where they are uncertain of other parties’ platforms or where other parties have little or no experience running the country. Perhaps Tymoshenko’s party inspires a bit more confidence with her in jail, but I can’t think why anyone would deliberately enable an energy oligarch whose understanding of money appeared – by actual example when she was Prime Minister – to consist of giving everyone a fat raise when you needed them to either vote for you or shut the fuck up, and never worrying where the funds were going to come from or how borrowed money would be paid back. She won’t be in jail forever, and there’s rarely a day that goes by which does not include an object lesson that she has learned nothing from it.

                There are flaws in every electoral system, and first-past-the-post is no exception. But the party that chooses to use it in order to stay in power must be very careful that it will not make it impossible to regain power if they are ever driven out.

        • To be fair AP has in the past noted the differences between the parties (especially Svoboda) although in the past he has advocated the view that it makes sense to talk about them as an anti-Yanukovich coalition as seen here – http://darussophile.com/2012/01/03/2012-predictions/#comments :

          “The various “pro-Western” (or “anti-Yanukovich”) parties – Tymoshenko’s Batkivshchyna, Yatsenuk’s Front for Change, UDAR, Svoboda – which in the latest polls have over 45% support (vs. under 30% for the pro-Yanukovich parties) do march together and talk about uniting against Yanukovich, so it does make sense to lump them together (Svoboda is a bit apart from the other three). Collectively, these parties now have more support relative to the pro-Russian side than at any recent time. And the trend is that they are gaining more and more ground. This is what will make the next elections interesting. These parties should collectively easily win over 50%, and perhaps over 60%, of the parliament, by a margin too great to be overcome by cheating….”

          “…the poll for the parliamentary elections shows the Orange parties (I use this term as shorthand for pro-Western; Yushchenko’s party which actually used the Orange color is totally off the radar now) with 45%, the Blue parties with 28%. The other 27% are, presumably, undecided. In past elections most of the undecideds in the polls ended up voting Orange in the elections. Now it may be different due to Yanukovich’s collapse. Splitting the undecideds evenly, it’ll be 58.5% Orange and 41.5% Blue – a much larger Orange margin of victory than in any previous election (and keep in mind that the trend has been increasing; Blue may not have hit bottom yet). For the first time, the Party of Regions no longer even has a plurality.”

          As it stands though the United Opposition, UDAR and Svoboda collectively seem to have won just over 50% of the vote while PoR and the communists would have won just under 50%. So in other words, more or less evenly split as had happened in past elections and as some were predicting would happen for this election. As AP and AK said, had the UO been a truly united opposition then they would have gotten a plurality and perhaps even 50% of the vote to a single unified opposition party (well the vote that would count for representational purposes anyway, not the full 100% but those votes for parties that passed the 5% threshold – and it’s rather hard to see Our Ukraine joining a Unified Opposition given the bad blood between them and Fatherland and given that OU would be seen as little better than useless by the other more popular parties in a UO). Would they have been able to form a government? Sure. But not one based on something even remotely approaching 55% of the vote but more likely 50.1-52% of the vote.

          I’ve said before in this comments section and I’ll say it again, I think UDAR is only party which just might be able to break the electoral deadlock in Ukraine if it can manage to appeal to disenchanted voters from the PoR and Fatherland’s traditional electoral blocs who under normal circumstances would vote for their traditional parties un-enthusiastically rather than vote for the traditional arch-rival party. In that sense UDAR’s original stance of staying separate from the UO would have offered them the opportunity to pursue this course. I’m not sure now what their opportunities would be for this now that they have pledged to work with the UO and Svoboda in parliament, which itself is smart politics anyway (it may all depend on if they can work with these other two parties while still maintaining a separate identity and appeal).

          • With 92% of the votes counted, the current proportional party-line vote would give UO, UDAR, and Svoboda 52% and PR plus Communists 48% (this is after one takes out the votes for parties that didn’t make the 5% barrier). However, since the western and central parts of the country are being counted more slowly I suspect the final proportional split will be more like 53% vs. 47% or perhaps even 54% vs. 46%.

            The PR wiill more than make up the difference in the individual races where its advantages have been discussed here; it will also likely “poach” people elected to the opposition’s party lists, and will therefore have a majority in the overall parliament.

      • Galicia, where ultra-Nationalist Svoboda has the majority on regional and municipal countries does not resemble Czech Republic or Poland by any stretch of an imagination. Marginal Czech Neo-Nazis go there for conferences. By the way, Social Democrats and the Communists have been the biggest winners of recent regional elections in the Czech Republic, with apathetic right-wing electorate staying at home. 😉

        • Czech Republic in general is quite different from other former Austro-Hungarian areas. In that region it was the only democracy for all that time, between the two world wars. I’m reminded of the reactionary Russian philosopher Konstantin Leontiev who really hated western bourgeois and probably for that reason singled out the Czechs as Slavs that Russians ought to avoid.

          Svoboda has moderated itself a lot from the days in the 90’s when it was originally called the Socialist National Party and used Nazi imagery. It currently is somewhere to the right of Fedesz and probably more moderate than Jobbik. It belongs to the same organizations as Jobbik and France’s National Front. Thus it is a “mainstream” European far right party, rather than a gang of neo-Nazis.

          Svoboda’s rise in popularity is an ugly phenomenon but not as scary as PR activists would like it to be. There are suspicions (who knows how realistic) that PR has gone soft on Svoboda because Svoboda can discredit the opposition to the government – a role played by Zhirinovsky in Russia.

          • Svoboda has changed the package by renaming itself, and changing its logo from the Wolfsangel to a palm of hand representing the Ukrainian national symbol, the “tryzub”. But the content has not changed that much. Front national really went more to the centre, but the same cannot be said of Svoboda. Can’t say much about Jobbik, don’t know what their style is. The fact that Svoboda is now mainstream, and not a gang of Neo-Nazis really does not change the picture much. Gangs of Neo-Nazis are such because they are not mainstream.

            Other than Zhirinovsky calling his pet political project “Liberal Democrats”, there is no connection between him and the liberals. His pet project is always referred to as the “LDPR”, not as the “liberals”, that term is reserved for other people. In Ukraine we see Bat’kivshchina happily making alliances with the Svoboda, and the Bat’kivshchina party is also a home to people with very interesting ideas.


            If the Svoboda is being left alone by the PoR to discredit the opposition, why is the opposition so happily cooperating with Svoboda, and why does it maintain people who’s ideas Svoboda would not be ashamed of?

            The PoR in fact utilises this fervent nationalism of some of its opponents, not just that of Svoboda, to mobilise its electorate. Vadim Kolesnichenko (one of the authors of the new language law) during the language law brawl in the parliament called the people who have organised it: “national-fascists”. Note that there were no Svoboda members among those that started the brawl. It therefore stands to reason that the tolerant attitude towards Svoboda is due to there never being enough of that “national=fascism” to mobile the electorate of the South-East which no longer trusts the PoR.

            • In 2000 Jean Marie Le Pen, who got into the second round of a French presidential election, visited Ukraine at the invitation of Svoboda; Svoboda leader Tyahnybok visited Vienna in 2008 at the invitation of the Austrian Freedom Party (which got 17% of the vote in the Austrian elections that year). The French National Front, Svoboda, and Hungary’s third largest party Jobbik (which got 16.67% of the votes in the 2010 election) belonged to the European organization “Alliance of European National Movements” (Marine Le Pen pulled out of that organization last year). Svoboda is basically a mainstream, if it can be called that, far-right European party. As such Svoboda is probably no more extreme and unpleasant as Ukraine’s Communist Party, which has put up a statue to Stalin. The Party of Regions made an alliance with the Communists; the United Opposition and Udar would be no worse if they made an alliance with similarly extreme and bad Svoboda.

              • Front National are nasty pieces of work and so is Svoboda. And Svoboda becoming Ukraine-wide party is the best present ever for Janukovych because they will be playing the role that Front National plays in France. Imagine election run off between Tyahnybok and Janukovych – the West (and definitely Ukraine’s immedite neighbours like Poland) would be forced to support Janukovych!

              • @AM,

                I don’t see it coming to that, because someone like Klitschko is certain to beat Tyahnybok anyway.


                I do not consider either Svoboda or the Communists to be “bad.” They both believe they are right. For Svoboda, “Их идеи правы” (in both senses); for the Communists, “Наша правда – с нами.” And who is anyone to say otherwise?

        • * that should be “councils” above, damn 🙂

  4. @Mercouris,

    I can hopefully answer some of your questions, until AP weights in.

    Re-1. What in your opinion explains the increase in the Communist vote over the previous election and where is it happening since as far as I can see there has been no significant decline in the Party of the Region’s vote? I think partly because many of the eastern voters got disillusioned with PR, but remained center-left/Russophile, so shifted their support. Also PR got 34% in the last elections and is on track to get 31% now, so it has lost a bit of support.

    Re-2. Here are the Kiev results:

    м.Київ, опрацьовано протоколів – 71.48% (counted thus far)
    1 політична партія Всеукраїнське об’єднання “Батьківщина” 284 920 31.04 (Batkivschina)
    2 Політична партія “УДАР (Український Демократичний Альянс за Реформи) Віталія Кличка” 235 831 25.69 (Udar)
    3 політична партія Всеукраїнське об’єднання “Свобода” 157 489 17.15 (Svoboda)
    4 Партія регіонів 114 667 12.49 (PR)
    5 Комуністична партія України 65 399 7.12 (commies)

    This is strong evidence for AP’s theory of the Three Ukraines.

    Re-3. Am I right in thinking that the biggest proportion of the votes for the United Opposition and UDAR came in the centre? If so which of these parties came first? Correct, and Batkivschina beat Udar nearly everywhere there (this was a bit of a surprise, as many of the pre-elections polls almost had Udar head to head with BYT).

    • Thanks Anatoly!

    • AK, you basically covered what I would have written. An illustration of the problems within the first-past-the-post system in Irpen, Kiev region:


      In that district, with 10% of the votes counted, 26.7% are going to the United Opposition candidate, 23.12% to UDAR, and 20.25% to the Party of Regions candidate, Petro Melnyk, somewhat of a bigshot within that party. The counting is now taking more than 24 hours in that district, it isn’t transparent and it may happen that this this guy will cheat his way into a victory with 25% to 26% of the official vote count. A mob of angry locals is being held at bay by the police and some tough guys sent in from elsewhere. Such is “democracy” in currrent Ukraine.

      Agreeing to this election system was indeed a dumb move by the opposition. The Party of Regions probably bet that the opposition would be divided. The opposition leaders, I suspect, bet that they would unite in time for the election and assumed that Svoboda would remain a largely marginal party. Obviously, the PR won that bet.

      • Dear AP,

        Thanks for this.

        I am interested to see what you say about how slow the vote count in this constituency is. As I have often said a slow vote count is normally a better indicator of election rigging than a fast one.

        How widespread do you think the rigging in this election is? The OSCE, the State Department and the EU are all crying foul yet if one looks at the part of the election which is decided by proportional representation the result does not seem to be out of line with what the opinion polls were saying. Could it be that more rigging is taking place in the constituency section? The example you cite suggests it.

        Incidentally I hope I have made clear that I agree with you about the first past the post system. Here in Britain we have it in its purest form. Whatever its merits or demerits I think it is a wholly inappropriate system for a political culture like the Ukraine’s. Because of it Yanukovitch is going to get a majority on 30% of the vote. With the help of the Communists and with defections of the sort that blight Ukrainian politics I would not be surprised if over the course of the parliament he achieves a constitutional majority. Given the way he would have achieved it that would only provoke more bitterness and more division.

        • My impression is that the proportional part of the voting is generally fair; the authorities can afford to let it be fair because they will more than make up for their losses in the proprotional voting by dominating the individual first-past-the-post elections. My friends in Kiev are certain that there is some attempted vote-rigging going on in the closely-contested elections in central Ukraine, where the Party of Regions is trying to get its people to win those races where the opposition is split and the PR can get 25%-30% of the vote; if UO and Udar get 25% and 25%, it is tempting for the authorites to get their guy to 26% and take the district. As such, I don’t think that cheating is widespread throughout Ukraine but it it probably exists in those specific districts with very close counts, where the votes have still not been counted this long after the election. But for the most part the Party of Regions will not win by cheating, but rather thanks to the completely legal, if unfair, first-past-the-post system.

          So far, with 97% of the votes counted, the Party of Regions has 73 MPs through proportional voting but 116 through single-district. In contrast, United Opposition has 61 through the proportional system but only 42 through the single-district races. For Udar, these numbers are 34 and 6 (!!!) respectively.

          You are right about the Party of Regions ultimately trying to get a constitutional majority. They have a high chance of not being able to win the next presidential election, but with a constitutional majority in the parliament they may change the constitution so that the president is elected by the parliament, and not directly by the people. So 30% of the vote may guarantee total control over the country for many years to come. Very sad.

          • I cannot see the PR getting anything close to a constitutional majority.

            That would imply a mass defection from Udar to PR, a possibility only seriously entertained by the most paranoid oranges. For that matter I’m not even sure the Communists would go along with this.

            I agree with you BTW that PR is using illegal underhanded tactics to win some of the Kiev constituencies. Kireev has some juicy details.

            • Anatoly, I might be missing something, but among the suspicious constituencies cited in comments in the post you give, http://kireev.livejournal.com/871066.html?thread=16402074#t16402074, in four that are fully or almost fully counted, three went to UO and one to Svoboda, but Kireev reacts “4:0 to the party of power”. Are you sure these guys aren’t over ventilating the way you did, seeing PoR with 36% of party list vote at time when urban Donbass was fully counted but rural Galicia was not?

              In general, reading Ukr Pravda coverage (pro-orange, and maybe pro-Svoboda these days) one gets the feeling that UDAR-UO conflicts in constituencies with incomplete counts are as common as PoR-opposition fights.

    • Votes from the disillusioned PoR voters went to the Communists in my opinion. I think this trend is set to continue. Or perhaps another party might rise feeding on the carcass of the PoR.

      Regarding AP’s claim that Kiev is no longer some Little Russia because PoR has not much support there. Political commentator, Dmitry Skvortsov takes a note of the relatively good result Svoboda received in Kiev. He in fact goes even further than AP, claiming that Kiev is no longer “the mother of all Russian cities.” I quote:

      Высокие показатели «Свободы» в Киеве никого не должны удивлять по той простой причине, что Киев давно уже – не русский город и не город интеллектуалов, и даже, по своему менталитету, скорее, не город, а большое, разросшееся не только вширь, но и в рост село…


      High results for Svoboda in Kiev show not surprise anyone, because of the very simple reason that Kiev no longer is a Russian city, and no longer is a city of intellectuals, and even by its mentality, is no longer a city, but a huge, spread out, widened, and grown high, village.


      Истинных киевлян здесь осталось не более 20%. С одной стороны, это последствия революции 1917 г. (когда эмигрировало полгорода) и Великой Отечественной (которая переполовинила оставшуюся часть). С другой – постоянные иммиграции. Сначала – исконно сельского элемента из большевиков-украинизаторов при перенесении столицы из Харькова. Затем послевоенный наплыв крестьян для восстановления города в сороковых. И, в последние четверть века, – «интеллектуальное» вторжение галичан (которые, сами по себе, граждане львовских городов максимум во втором поколении). Эти последние, на евроатлантических грантах (естественно, русофобских по своей природе) и стали с начала 2000-х властителями мещанских киевских умов…


      Of the true (original) Kievites., only 20% remain here. On one hand this is the result of the the revolution of 1917 (when half of the city emigrated) and the Great Patriotic War (when the remaining part emigrated) On the other hand, this is the result of constant immigrations. First was the originally rural element from the Bolsheviks-Ukrainisators, when the capital moved from Khar’kov [to Kiev]. Then the post-war wave of peasants in order to rebuild the city in the 40’s. And in the last quarter of the century, the “intellectual” invasion of the Galicians (who themselves were citizens of Lvov [region] cities maximum of the second generation). The latter, on Euro-Atlantic grants (indeed Russophobic by their own nature) have become, in the beginning of the new millennium the owners of the minds of Kiev’s citizens.


      Some comments: Khar’kov was for a time the capital of Soviet Ukraine. The Bolsheviks instituted a policy of Ukrainisation as a policy directed against the former Imperial ideology. For this they recruited small town, and rural intelligentsia.

      Galician cities were majority Polish and Jewish before the War. Through the wonderful efforts of Hitler’s lackeys from the ranks of Ukrainian nationalists, these cities are now 99% Ukrainian.

      • Prior to the Russian nature of Kiev in the late 19th and early 20th centuries Kiev was basically a Polish city – it had a Polish mayor as late as the 1860’s, I believe. An influx of rural people into cities is simply what happens with modernization.

        Any actual evidence of an influx of Galicians into Kiev that is disproportinate to the influx of others people into the nation’s (or republic’s) capital, other than the claims of some Russian nationalist commentator? This is purely anecdotal, but not a single Kievan resident I know has origins in Galicia (though many have grandparents in villages outside Kiev or are from oblast centers in central Ukraine such as Cherkassy).

        • The influx of Galicians was real but very targeted – new humanitarian intelligentsiya is mostly from Galicia. I have observed it firsthand when teaching in a ‘Galician’ university in Kiev. Over 20 years, people who teach, speak on TV, and write in newspapers, tend to have a disproportionate influence on the population views.

            • Yes, Mohylyanka with its language police (forcing everyone to speak Ukrainian even during breaks, even between two Russian-speaking faculty members at a social event) is the most extreme but not unique example.

              • Whilst I obviously defer to others who have more knowledge of the Ukraine than me, on balance I take a less dramatic view of the situation in Kiev. It seems to me that the vote there is essentially in line with the vote of the region to which it belongs, which is the centre. This is as one would expect. As it is the capital it has a somewhat more diverse electorate because like most capitals all the diverse opinions in the country find their echo there. This explains the vote for Svoboda there, which is balanced by a similar vote for the Party of the Regions and for the Communists whose base support is also outside the region. I would add that there is a fundamental difference between Svoboda and the parties like the United Opposition and UDAR that predominate in the centre and in Kiev. Unlike Svoboda, which is definitely a right wing party, the two parties of the centre are difficult to place ideologically. They both seem to be coalitions of people with a wide range of views though their centre of gravity seems (to me) to be somewhat to the left. Also though they are both pro European parties they are not anti Russian in the way that Svoboda definitely is.

                For the rest I have to agree with Hunter. The anti Party of the Regions vote because it straddles two regions (the west and centre) that are so poltically different from each other, always in the end is less than the sum of its parts. The only occasion when it was briefly able to bring its notional arithmetical majority to bear was at the time of the Orange Revolution. This was so anomalous and artificial that the resulting coalition very quickly fell apart.

                NB: AP is it true as I read on Itar Tass that the Party of the Regions is winning the constituency vote in Kiev? If so that is as outrageous as it is grotesque.

            • FYI, the young Svoboda activist in the article you linked to is running neck-and-neck against Kiev’s acting mayor for one of the single-person seats:


  5. To the discussion about the United Opposition/anti-Yanukovych coalition. Klitschko never joined the United Opposition which is basically the Bat’kivshchina which merged together with Yatsenyuk’s Front Zmin and Svoboda. He said that he will cooperate with them in the new parliament but what form that cooperation will take is uncertain. Also PoR might be tempted to buy off members of the other parties, or otherwise infiltrate them. Ukrainian politics are highly unpredictable, backstab, and cutthroat game, and the anti-Yanukovych opposition is not a united force.

    • This of course begs the question of why did Klitschko set up his own party in the first place? It seems to me all he has done is weaken Yatsenyuk whose combined total is therefore less than was Tymoshenko’s in 2007. I say this because without knowing much about Ukrainian politics it looks to me that there is barely any difference whether philosophical or in terms of policy between Klitschko and Yatsenyuk. There’s no suggestion I suppose that Klitschko is merely a spoiler created purely to draw support away from Yatsenyuk and Tymoshenko? We all know how this kind of “political technology” works in Russia. It will be a sad thing if this “political technology” has been imported to the Ukraine.

      • There are all sorts of conspiracy theories, some of which may be true and others may not be true. The United Oppostion united all the old oppostion parties; just when they came together, Klitschko showed up and divided the opposition again. If he had chosen to run only in the proportional system but not to run in the single-person districts, the parliamentary composition would have been comletely different. Or, if half of his voters had gone with the United opposition, the result would have been completely different. Some conspirasy theories I have heard (again, they may all be false, or they may all be true):

        Klitschko as a spoiler helping the Party of Regions
        Yatseniuk as a “loyal opposition” harmless to the Party of Regions, in contrast to dangerous Tymoshenko
        Svoboda being funded/helped (at least, in Western Ukraine where they don’t compete with the Party of Regions) in order to discredit the opposition in the eyes of the West, and to mobilize eastern Ukrainians

  6. “…after all 80% of the conversations in the streets are in Russian…”

    I’m curious: are the people who grew up after independence more likely to speak Ukrainian in their everyday lives than older folks? If so, how much more likely?

    • In fact, a lot of them do not switch to Ukrainian, some observe an opposite trend. But there is also a trend of the rise in Surzhyk speakers. Surzhyk is a mixture between Russian and Ukrainian, usually it sounds like Russian with Ukrainisims, but more hardcore forms, where Ukrainisms are abundant, can be heard in rural areas. The rise of Surzhyk is a worrying trend in my opinion because it points to an overall degradation of Ukrainian society. People who have no need for either literary language resort to this kind of speech usually.

      But on the fluency of people in both Russian and Ukrainian, the trends are for the positive. Before independence, lot of folks could not speak or even understand Ukrainian, this is not the case with most of young people today. So while the preference for Ukrainian might not amount to much, the people at least have no problem understanding it.

  7. My guess is that UDAR electorate comprised of those who do not want to abandon Russian language but still possessed with “European Choice of Ukraine”. That Choice I define as funny notion that the country should join EU and then bingo! Everything is fine! And a person possessed should not change anything in his ways! Just life as usual, but with better roads, clean police and such. Needless to say, it’s so childish, but many individuals keep these beliefs very close to their heart.

    • Dear Alex,

      “….as funny notion that the country should join EU and then bingo! Everything is fine…”

      But it is a notion that many, many people hold and not just in the Ukraine. Europeanism is a creed or a religion rather than a rational choice (though it is sometimes also a rational choice).

      • But somebody should explain to Ukrainians that the selfish gods in the celestial plane called Brussels do not quite want to grant Ukraine the blessing of their acceptance, nor do they wish to take Ukraine out of the perennial crisis it finds itself in.

  8. Could I just finish this round of my comments by saying that I think it would be a mistake to give way to too much angst about the rise of Svoboda? It seems to have won around 10% of the vote. That is substantially less than the western Ukraine’s proportion of the total Ukrainian population. This can only mean that a lot of people even in the western Ukraine where it is strongest are not voting for it. If one remembers that turnout in this election was low at 57% (a fact that always benefits smaller parties) than Svoboda’s performance looks even less impressive with just 5.7% of the Ukrainian electorate voting for it. Even if one takes the most negative view of Svoboda (which from what I have heard of it I rather do) that hardly amounts to a tidal wave of ultra rightist neo fascist sentiment.

  9. The Great Liberal Voice otherwise known as Konstantin von Eggert is back on form this time about the Ukrainian elections:


    Notice first the mendacity: Ukrainian voters are more mobilised than Russian voters. Yet as I understand it turnout in the latest election was actually lower than in the recent parliamentary and Presidential elections in Russia. Second the snobbery: he simply cannot resist referring to the Swedish monitoring official Walburgis Habsburg except by the title of “Archduchess” which was once used by her family. Moreover he goes on doing so repetitively throughout the article. She is not of course an Archduchess and never has been since the title was abolished when Austria became a republic. Third the absurdity: he explains the Ukraine’s greater political diversity than Russia by its greater poverty on the grounds that poverty means the government has fewer means to bribe voters. Logically that should mean the poorer a country the greater its democracy. By that logic the Democratic Republic of the Congo should be the most democratic country on earth.

    • An idealistic, not always realistic view of Ukraine by Russian liberals is another way that Ukraine is a bit for Russia, what Canada is for America.

  10. Update: with 99.68% of the vote counted the proportional vote is 30.01% Party of Regions, 25.52% United Opposition, 13.95% Udar, 13.18% Commies, 10.44% Svoboda, and 1.58% Ukrane:Forward. Excluding the parties that failed to pass the 5% threshold, the composition of the party-based part of the parliament would be 53.6% “Orange” (UO+Udar+Svoboda) and 46.4% “Blue (PR + Communists).

    The Party of Regions, will, of course, control the parliament thanks to the single-district first-past-the-post part fo the election. Here’s a map of those districts:


    I strongly suspect that almost all of the “blue” and “independent” * victories in the central and western part of the country happened simply because the oppostion split their vote, allowing the PR or Independent candidate to win the district with 30% or so of the vote despite the fact that over 50% voted for opposition parties in those districts.

    Unless Udar was a spoiler party designed by the authorities, its running of candidates in the single-mandate, first-past-the-post part of the election was extremely stupid. It gained exactly 6 seats in the parliament that way, but probably cost the opposition about 40 seats and control of the parliament.

    As it stands, including those single-candidate districts, the PR + Communists will have 218 members of parliament, just 8 short of the 226 necessary for a parliamentary majority. They will easily achieve that through gathering enough of the independents. However, a constitutional majority for the PR and its allies will probably be unachievable, making a very interesting and very high-stakes presidential election likely.

    *”Independent” candidates in central and western Ukraine are generally local businessmen officially unaffiliated with any party who don’t use the PR affiliation because doing so would completely kill their chances of getting elected, but who side with the PR and cooperate with the authorities. For example, Halyna Hereha from Kiev.

    On the plus side, Yushchenko’s political career appears to be completely finished.

    • I agree with all this. Moreover:

      (1) The commies are making waves about not joining a coalition with PoR. I think they will, eventually, because the alternative would be an Orange coalition; but they seem to be bargaining hard with PoR for ministerial positions. So even they are not the most reliable partners.

      (2) Of course PoR did much better in the majoritarian elections for the reasons you point out, and a substantial fraction of the independents will join them, but nowhere near enough to make a majority. They will need the cooperation of the communists for that. And I am quite certain that a Constitutional majority is well outside their reach.

      (3) I do not think Udar is a spoiler party. Why on earth would Klitschko of all people whore himself out? I am sure it’s a matter of egos competing with each other in the opposition. In any case it has made it clear it will not be joining any coalition with PoR or the Communists.

      • I actually agree with you on point 3. I think it’s about ego and probably poor internal polling too – I suspect he thought he would win more seats than he did and the PR and independents less. Udar and United Oppostion actually dropped a few candidates in the last minute (so that there would be only one non-Svoboda oppostion candidate running in some districts) but it was too little, too late, with neither side willing to drop enough candidates to prevent the debacle.

        • “Vanitas vanitatum omnia vanitas” – “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” – Ecclesiastes 1:2

          The story of Klitschko. Will he have the sense to stand aside and give Yatseniuk a clear run for the Presidency?

          • Because the presidential election has a runoff, as long as Klitschko doesn’t throw dirt on Yatseniuk during the first round, and as long as Svoboda doesn’t have a chance of beating each of those two (which is extremely unlikely), he would be harmless, unlike durng these parliamentary elections.

            • Dear AP,

              Two last questions:

              1. Who do you think would be the tougher challenger for Yanukovitch in the Presidential election – Yatseniuk or Klitschko? I feel that Klitschko did not do as strongly as some predicted and I would have thought Yatseniuk who does after all lead the bigger party.

              2. Do you think the United Opposition would have done better or worse if Tymoshenko had been free and actively leading it?

              • 1. I think that either one would win in a fair election and that their relative difference in strengths would not be significant. Yatseniuk inspires little passion (he looks like an accountant), but he is not Yanukovich. Barring an economic miracle or Svoboda or the Communists getting into the second round (all extremely unlikely scenarios), I don’t see how Yanukovich wins a fair second round.

                2. Probably. In those districts that were lost due to Klitschko’s party taking too many votes from the United Opposition, she might have gotten a few % more for the United Opposition, which would be decisive in close races.

              • Dear AP,

                I am no expert on Ukrainian politics but I would caution against any predictions on the outcome of the next Ukrainian Presidential elections given that they are still several years away.

                Whatever view one takes of Yanukovitch there has been no meltdown in support for him. On the contrary his electoral base looks solid whilst the opposition still looks very divided. As I have said previously Yanukovitch may be an unlikeable man but the evidence of the last nine years shows that he is a formidable politician at the head of what is by far the Ukraine’s biggest and most effective political machine. Machine politics may not be attractive but as the history of Chicago and New York and of the industrial cities of northern Britain shows when they work they are brutally effective. Yanukovitch is not someone who should ever be underestimated. I remember how after 2004 he was written off. Instead he is President and in powerful contention whilst of the Orange “victors” Yushchenko has disappeared into discredited oblivion and Tymoshenko is in prison.

                The results of this election suggest that Yanukovitch has around 45% of the Ukrainian vote already in his pocket before an election has even begun. If one adds to that the advantages that come from incumbency and the usual “administrative resources” then there are no grounds for saying at this stage that the remaining 5% are beyond his reach. That is even before we start discussing possibilities like an economic revival that might tip the advantage even further in his favour.

              • He certainly does have “admin resources.”

                Again via Kireev, I found this blog post comparing the votes in prisons for 2010 and 2012 (Ukraine is more democratic than the Yanks, they let not only people with a felony record but even active prisoners vote.)))

                Basically, the vote in 2010 was about 1/4 fair, and about 3/4 massively skewed in favor of Tymoshenko (which I suppose goes to show that Oranges aren’t above fraud themselves when they control the admin resource). In 2012, about 1/4 of the prison votes look fair and 3/4 are massively skewed in favor of PoR. It’s dog eat dog politics, I guess…

              • Yep. Also note that the most scandalous constituency (#223) has seen a fight between businessman/chair of local administration in Kiev during Orange times, currently under threat of a legal case, and an economist from Svoboda. Basically, what we see is that any force that is capable of, is using administrative resource. At constituency level, it could be a businessman with an urgent desire to get parliamentary immunity; in party lists, it’s the patronage networks that exist in different regions and survive local personae moving to different parties.

                What is crystal clear is that party lists provide a cleaner vote, as no political entrepreneur has an overwhelming incentive to bus scores of young male muscular “journalists” intended to intimidate the electoral commissions. Let’s observe how Russia would react to these elections – if majority constituencies are re-introduced, that would mean panic in Kremlin.

              • @AM,

                Yanukovich’s “ceiling” is about 49% and it has consistently been that way. Under ideal conditions (for him), with the Ukrainian economy collapsing and the Oranges discredited and their voters utterly apathetic, he managed to win with only about 48.95% of the vote in the 2-person runoff. I was one of the few people to predict that he would win by less than 5%. Moreover, in every parliamentary election, including this one, the Oranges got more of the votes than did the other side (although like now, they’ve managed to get outmaneuvered afterwards).

                I suspect, given the different demographic diffferences between regions, his ceiling may be shrinking:


                Of course, that election will be years away. An unpredicted economic miracle may occur. Svoboda may catch up and sneak into the second round while Udar and UO divide the (larger) moderate vote. Or the five parties may come closer to parity and the Communists may edge their way into the second round. I think all of these scenarios are very unlikely. Perhaps more likely, a safe and trusted heir may stand in for Yanukovich. Or elections will somehow be cancelled. I do not see Yanukovich giving up power to the oppostion voluntarily, and I don’t see him winning a fair election. How will the square be circled?

                Another point: the political machine (I know such things well; I am from Chicago and my father was a high school classmate of Mayor Daley I’s son, and worked for Daley I in his youth) does not necessary mean competent rule or even skill. Chicago was run rather well under the Daleys, particularly the son – it is falling apart now that the son is gone. Donbas is not really run that well. The political power is simply monopolized there. Just because a relatively unified 45% can beat 25% plus 20% plus 10% does not necessarily mean the former is better in any way other than winning and holding on to power.

              • Dear AP,

                Please understand me: I am not saying Yanukovitch will win the next Presidential election and nor am I saying that machine politics produces better government. Far from it. What I am saying is that Yanukovitch is a formidable politician backed by a formidable political machine who in the end consistently comes out on top and that it is far too early and frankly rather complacent to say now several years before the next Presidential election that its outcome is preordained and that Yanukovitch is certain to lose it. The only way the opposition can beat Yanukovitch is if they manage to unite all their voters behind one candidate, which though by no means impossible given the differences between them is going to be far from easy, and by ensuring that on the day of the vote all those voters come out and vote for the agreed candidate on the day, which though also not impossible could prove more difficult still. As the latest elections show Yanukovitch not only has the numbers behind him but he and his Communist allies possess an organisation, a discipline, a sense of unity and purpose and a degree of basic political understanding which the opposition at the moment cannot match. That is how Yanukovitch was able to turn things round and end up with a parliament in which he has a majority.

                Also comparing the last Presidential election with the next one ignores the vital difference that Yanukovitch did not go into the previous election as the incumbent and that he had Tymoshenko, arguably the best politician the opposition has produced up to now, as his opponent. Come the next Presidential election he will have formidable advantages he did not have in 2010.

                For the rest I am certainly not going to defend the first past the post system. In my opinion it is a bad system and the United Opposition were stupid to agree to it. However the United Opposition did agree to it and UDAR not only agreed to fight an election based upon it but insisted on running candidates against the United Opposition making it possible for the Party of the Regions to win. If this produced for the opposition a bad outcome then they have no one to blame for it but themselves. Since they are to blame for what has happened it is unreasonable for them now after the event to complain about it. It conveys a terrible sense of entitlement and makes them look like spoilt children throwing a tantrum. What they should be doing instead is thinking hard about what they did wrong so that they do not go on making mistakes like this again.

                The biggest mistake the opposition in the Ukraine makes is that it never accepts outcomes it doesn’t like. In 2004 it overturned a Presidential election result by extra legal and revolutionary methods. In 2007 Yushchenko dissolved an elected parliament unconstitutionally. In 2010 Tymoshenko refused to recognise Yanukovitch’s victory. Now the opposition is again refusing to accept another election outcome it is unhappy with even though it was its own tactical blunders that caused it. Whatever the merits of disputing any one of these outcomes cumulatively disputing all of them conveys the impression of an opposition that only recognises the outcome of elections it wins. This is a terrible impression to give and must be one reason why Yanukovitch’s support is so solid. Since it is the solidity of Yanukovitch’s support that explains his strength it is this bad habit of the opposition to reject outcomes it doesn’t like which explains why in the end it tends to lose

      • I agree that the commies will eventually join a coalition. After all they didn’t seem to contest the first-past-the post elections (thereby allowing the PoR a clear run at picking up seats in the south and east) and weren’t they in a coalition before the election with the PoR and the Lytvyn Bloc (even though they had no ministerial posts)? With Lytvyn’s People’s Party getting 2 seats in the first-past-the-post elections and independents getting 44 seats under that system then a PoR-People’s Party-independents coalition could in theory have 233 seats. The communists as you speculated are probably playing hardball to get ministerial positions this time around.

        I would expect that a possible coalition would see the PoR/Communists/People’s Party and some independents joining together. In theory they could get a maximum of 265 seats.

        The alternative though to get a government without the PoR or any of it’s likely coalition partners would require UO/UDAR/Svoboda (combined 180 seats) plus United Centre (3 seats), the Union Party (1 seat), the radical party (1 seat) and 93% of the independents (41 out of the 43 independents would have to join). Yatsenyuk would have his work cut out as a cat-herder there!

        • Dear Hunter,

          I simply cannot imagine a UO/UDAR/Svoboda coalition on this arithmetic. I think it would be a very bad idea to try to set one up. It wouldn’t last very long if it were set up especially with Yanukovitch doubtless working to undermine it and it would simply confirm the opposition’s reputation for factionalism when as would be inevitable it failed and fell apart. Sometimes it makes better political sense to go into opposition and for the opposition this is one of those moments. Besides given that Yanukovitch is executive President surely it is he who takes the initative with Azarov in forming a coalition government? Surely once the inevitable horse trading is done they will succeed in doing so.

  11. I understand that in classical Orange fashion the three opposition parties are disputing the result, have so far with limited success tried to call their people onto the streets, are threatening to resign their mandates and to demand snap parliamentary and presidential elections and in Klitschko’s are demanding new elections on a strictly proportional basis.

    I have no time for any of this. AP has said that there is little evidence of outright fraud. If any has happened it has been on a small scale and does not affect the overall result. The United Opposition were stupid enough to support the change in the electoral system whilst Klitschko as AP has said foolishly ran candidates in the constituencies against the United Opposition’s. If the result is different from what it might have been under a different set of rules or if the opposition had followed better tactics then the opposition have no one to blame but themselves.

    It seems to me that this sort of behaviour goes to the heart of the problem with current Ukrainian politics. Yanukovitch may be an unlikeable man but he represents what is by some distance the biggest and richest Ukrainian region which must therefore also account for a disproportionate share of the Ukraine’s tax revenue. Treating him and his region as semi criminals and denying the legitimacy of any government he forms or of any election he wins whilst treating so contemptuously the perfectly reasonable aspirations of the people who vote for him (for example for Russian to have official status in their districts) is recklessly divisive and destabilising. Whether some people in the western and central Ukraine like the fact or not Yanukovitch is part of the Ukraine as are the people who vote for him. Unless this fact is recognised any future opposition government will fail like Yushchenko’s, the Ukraine will fail to cohere as a state and it’s future will be. Fortunately I think most people in the Ukraine understand this fact even if some Ukrainian politicians do not, which is one reason by the way why I expect any protests the opposition now tries to organise will have only limited support and will eventually fizzle out leaving the opposition weaker and more politically discredited than it would otherwise be.

    • I agree that there was little fraud in the proportional part of the vote, however I would not be surprised if PR got a dozen or so deputies in the majoritarian elections via fraud. I was loosely following the count on Kireev’s blog and there were several cases in which the PR candidate, who had been trailing an oppositioner by a couple of points, suddenly leaped in front even though up till then some 99% of the votes had already been counted.

      That said I agree that a repeat of the Orange Revolution is unlikely in the extreme. The people are jaded by now, and I assume the Supreme Court won’t interfere either.

    • I agree with AK’s comments. A note about regions – the “Blue” regions are most economiocally productive but most of the products of this production end up in oligarchs’ pockets rather than state coffers. I read somewhere that more money goes to those regions from Kiev than gets collected by Kiev. It is a myth that “Blue” Ukraine feeds the rest of the country.

      I agree that the UO and Klitschko also bear responsibility for this debacle; nevertheless, the fact is that the results of this election are contrary to voters’ wishes.