Polls are now open in Ukraine’s parliamentary election. Therefore, the spin cycle is also very much open.*
In a previous entry, I quoted the Kyiv Post as saying that Viktor Yanukovych–the would-be victor (so to speak) of a fraudulent election in 2004, until masses of citizens rallied around the real Viktor–was poised to make a “startling comeback” in this weekend’s parliamentary election.
I have lamented before that the first-place showing of Yanukovych’s Regions party in these elections would be spun as some sort of major turnaround, even reversal of the Orange Revolution. The Kyiv Post itself, which should know better, has made many such remarks in recent weeks, and so has the BBC, which also should know better, to say nothing of the US press.
But the whole idea of a “comeback” is so much hogwash. A little perspective here.
In October, 2004, in the first round of the presidential election, the official results showed Viktor Yushchenko at 39.9% of the vote nationwide, and Viktor Yanukovych at 39.3%. This total for Yanukovych was almost certainly inflated, yet the pro-Yanukovych electoral commission admitted he had fallen behind Yushchenko. Thus, his percentage in that election–a multicandidate contest with a playing field tilted in his favor–surely represents the outer limit of what he can be expected to get today.
So, if, in this election, Yanukovych’s party gets 30-37% (as various polls have suggested), that’s a decline, not a resurgence. If the two major parties that backed Yushchenko combine for just under 40%, as polls suggest, and if the Socialist party, whose candidate received 5.8% in the official first-round result in 2004, gets again around 5% (as looks likely), where is the great reversal of fortune?
The most likely result, then, is somewhere between stasis of party support and decline for Regions and Yanukovych. Don’t let the media spin it for you any other way!
Data cited are from my own files, compiled off the website of the Ukrainian electoral commission shortly after the runoff re-vote that made Yushchenko victor.