Viktor Yanukovich (1950- ), the leader of the Party of Regions, the winner of the first round in the Ukrainian presidential election. As no candidate won a majority, there shall be a second round between Mr Yanukovich and Yuliya Timoshenko, the second place finisher on 7 February.
Surprisingly, at this time, the presidential elections in the Ukraine were surprisingly peaceful; one might even say they were quiet. In any case, that’s what happened in the first round. The only incident in this ocean of tranquillity, the only “ripple”, was the entry of 400 Georgian “journalists” with a military bearing. Otherwise, observers did not see any serious violations, and, in terms of honesty and respect for democratic norms, the first round was beyond serious questioning. Therefore, it is already possible to come to some early conclusions. Therefore, a second round is inevitable, and Yanukovich passed into it with over a ten-point separation between him and his main opponent, Yuliya Timoshenko. Viktor Yushchenko set a world record and became an “unelected” acting president, as he garnered only a shameful 5 percent of the vote. He must be able “leave in style”. Another achievement of this election is the fact that Viktor Yanukovich, whose core constituency is in the eastern Ukraine, was the winner in the westernmost section, Transcarpathia oblast (Carpatho-Russia). In addition, the turnout was quite high, 67 percent, showing that the majority of Ukrainian citizens care about their country, they care about its future. Prominent political scientists and sociologists from Russia and the Ukraine met to discuss the results of elections in a teleconference held jointly in Moscow and Kiev, organised by RIA-Novosti.
Most of the participants found common ground, giving their predictions for the further development of the situation in the Ukraine. Here is one of the sample scenarios. In the second round, Yanukovich has a slight advantage to win; we cannot ignore such his substantial lead in the first round. Secondly, it is unlikely that Tigipko or Yatsenyuk would support either of the second round candidates, as this will put an end to their future political careers. Third, as noted by Konstantin Zatulin, the Director of the CIS Institute, “Of course, there is more to Yanukovich, we believe that he has a large untapped potential”. The turnout and the vote for Yanukovich were significant, but they were not as significant as they were in 2004 in such Russian-speaking regions such as Crimea and Sevastopol. This is a consequence of errors committed by the local branches of the Party of Regions. Needless to say, Yanukovich is in a position to rectify this situation, he can put it right, especially through the use of his traditional core of support”.
If we talk about the possible coalitions, then Tigipko and Yatsenyuk, as new political figures, in principle, do not have a loyal and stable bloc of support. According to Vladimir Kornilov, the director of the Ukrainian branch of the CIS Institute, the only candidate with an established constituency is Pyotr Simonenko, who received 3.95% of the vote. In the second round, his support could mean much more than any backing from Tigipko or Yatsenyuk. The probability of a Timoshenko coalition with Tigipko, in exchange for the post of prime minister for the latter, is insignificant. In any case, under the Constitution of the Ukraine, the Prime Minister gains approval only with the consent of the Verkhovna Rada.
Prime Minister of the Ukraine Yuliya Timoshenko (1960- ), perhaps the most driven and ambitious politician in the Ukraine. She is a vicious land-shark… but the nationalists had best beware her. She would sell out to Russia in an instant if she knew that a place waited for her at the centre. Certainly, a figure to watch…
Therefore, we can conclude that we should not wait for the “perfunctory” announcements of the candidates who failed to make it to the second round. At the same time, few political analysts cannot imagine that such a focused political figure as Yuliya Timoshenko would just surrender, as she came so close to victory. In the case of her defeat, we can expect that she would reject the election results, or take other, more radical, measures. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that they will be “playing for keeps” in the second round, and neither candidates will hesitate in doing whatever it takes to win. RF Gosduma Deputy Sergei Markov believed, “In 2004, Yuliya Vladimirovna refused to recognise the election results and won, and, in 2007, she refused to recognise the voting of the parliamentary majority and won. If she refused to admit something twice, and won both times, why, I can’t understand why she wouldn’t do it a third time”.
Nevertheless, there is no chance of a repetition of the “Orange scenario”. Today, in the west, at least outwardly, this is far less interest in the Ukraine. We can see this by the level of coverage that the Ukrainian presidential election is receiving in the Western press. Political analyst Vladimir Ryzhkov thought, “Five years ago, a key role was played by external factors. There was no chance of an intervention, but it played a role in terms of recognition. Today, in the international community, no one wishes to see the Ukraine destabilised. Everyone wants a second round that ends with the victory of one or the other of the candidates, and that everything would calm down afterwards”.
The second round of the election, scheduled for 7 February, will show us which of the experts were right. In general, opinions tend to be variants on a theme of a narrow victory for Yanukovich. However, don’t think that victory will automatically go to the candidate with the majority of the vote. Timoshenko is not someone who knows how to give up, but this election is the last chance for Yanukovich to justify the forces and means invested in him. These two will compete fiercely.
19 January 2010