Daily Archives: January 19, 2010

Ukraine 2010

The first round of the Ukrainian presidential election was held on January 17, 2010. The results were largely similar to what the polling had predicted, and the runoff will predictably oppose the leaders of Ukraine’s two major political camps: pro-Russian and pro-western.

Here are the results.

Viktor Yanukovych (PR) 35.32%
Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT) 25.05%
Sergei Tigipko (Ind) 13.06%
Arseniy Yatsenyuk (Ind) 6.96%
Viktor Yushchenko (OU) 5.45%
Petro Symonenko (CPU) 3.55%
Volodymyr Lytvyn (LB) 2.35%
Oleh Tyahnybok (AO) 1.43%
Anatoliy Hrytsenko (OU) 1.20%
Inna Bohoslovska (Ind) 0.41%
Oleksandr Moroz (SPU) 0.38%
Yuriy Kostenko (OU) 0.22%
Liudmyla Suprun 0.19%
Vasily Protyvsih 0.16%
Oleksandr Pabat 0.14%
Serhiy Ratushniak 0.12%
Mykhaylo Brodskyy 0.06%
Oleh Riabokon 0.03%
None of the above 2.20%
Invalid 1.64%

turnout 66.76%

As expected, Yanukovych came out far ahead of the field. This doesn’t reflect a huge swing in his favour compared to 2004 (he did better in 2004 in fact), or even 2007 (he polled only marginally better than his party in the 2007 legislative election) but partly the fact that he has established himself as the main candidate of the pro-Russian vote. He has taken votes which in 2004 went to the Socialists (Moroz) and the Communists (Symonenko) and was not hurt much by the candidacy of the pro-Russian businessman Sergei Tigipko.

Yulia Tymoshenko didn’t benefit from the same unity on the pro-western side, which has been historically racked by divisions. A glance at the map reflects that she didn’t enjoy the huge margins that Yanukovych enjoyed in his strongholds. However, on a possibly positive note for the runoff, the division of the vote in western Ukraine doesn’t benefit Yanukovych a whole lot – though Yanukovych did gain some ground in those regions. She polled best in central Ukraine, which has usually been her electoral base. She suffered from good performances by Yuschenko and Yatsenyuk in Galicia.

President Viktor Yuschenko has set a world record for the lowest vote for an incumbent in a presidential election. He defeats former Slovakian President Rudolf Schuster who won 7% seeking a second term in 2004. Yuschenko polled best in Lvov and Galicia – up to 30% or so in Lvov and slightly lower elsewhere in Galicia. Arseniy Yatsenyuk polled best in Chernivtsi Oblast, his home region, and elsewhere in Galicia.

Yanukovych has a 10% lead over Tymoshenko, and both candidates have relatively strong reserves. Like in the recent Chilean election, a large margin in the first round hides a runoff which is much narrower. The geographic base of Tigipko’s votes would indicate that they would likely flow in large part to Yanukovych but Tigipko will not endorse a candidate and it remains to be seen if his voters stay home. Yanukovych can also count on the Communist votes, what’s left of them. The geographic base of Yatsenyuk and Yuschenko’s votes indicate that they would likely flow to Tymoshenko. However, there’s some very bad blood between Tymoshenko and Yuschenko, who pretty much hate each other and some have worried that Yuschenko might be tempted to endorse his 2004 rival, Yanukovych. The threat to Tymoshenko is if Yuschenko’s (and Yatsenyuk’s) voters stay home. Don’t let Yanukovych’s 10% first round margin blind you – like it did to many foreign observers (granted, they have limited knowledge of anything). The runoff is unpredictable and could go both ways. In addition, don’t expect a clear runoff. A close margin is to be expected, and Ukraine’s political divisions make it unlikely that anybody will win over 55% of the vote barring unforeseen events.

Turnout, finally, was 67%, down around 8% from the 75% turnout in the 2004 first round. This reflects the popular discontent in Ukraine with politicians and parties from both sides. There’s no love for Yanukovych, who has negative ratings, but the voters are equally discontent with the pro-western movement whose achievements in power have been limited. Lower turnout didn’t have a large effect on the first round, but if first round voters who voted for a minor candidate stay home, it will drive turnout down and make the runoff quite unpredictable.