Interfax reports that the opposition parties in Ukraine have agreed to a ‘one constituency – one candidate’ principle, under which they will not compete against one another in the single-seat districts.
Although the headline of the story says the parties have agreed to “form single list”, that may not be correct. They may still be presenting separate party lists for the seats allocated by proportional representation, although it is not clear.
The behavior in the single-seat constituencies is, however, precisely what we would anticipate under the MMM system that is being restored this year. Because (presumably) half the seats will be allocated to the plurality winner in each of (225) single-seat districts, and because the list-PR seats are not compensatory, parties that have some common interests would have a strong incentive to form a pre-electoral coalition. In doing so, they would be following the precedent of parties in Japan’s and Hungary’s MMM systems, which joined into two blocs to avoid the “spoiler” problem. (In those cases, the parties generally have presented separate party lists.)
For the 2006 and 2007 legislative elections, Ukraine used an exclusively closed-list PR system in one nationwide district. Prior to that, it had been MMM for 2002 and 1998. At that time, there was little coordination in the single-seat districts, many of which were won by non-party candidates. Now the party system is much more developed–aided in large part by the two PR elections.
The news story also indicates that the parties promise they would form a government together if they won a majority jointly. If they did so, it would lead to a potentially lengthy case of cohabitation, as the presidency is not up for election till 2015.
The legislative elections are set for 28 October.
(There are several earlier entries here on Ukraine’s elections and the former electoral system. Just click the country name at the top, and go a-scrolling.)
This is the Golden Rose Synagogue, or what is left of it.
The photo (taken by me) is from 2005. Built in the late 16th century, the Golden Rose was once one of the most important centers of Jewish life in the old Austro-Hungarian empire. It is located in Lviv, Ukraine (formerly Lvov, Poland, and before that Austrians and the Yiddish-speaking Jews knew the city as Lemberg). The ruins, as well as the near-absence of Jews in Lviv today, are a legacy of the Shoah (Holocaust).
According to Tom Gross at The Guardian’s Comment is Free blog, the synagogue is under threat from a hotel project. This has been denied by the Mayor of Lviv.
I don’t know who is right, but this a key cultural landmark, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It needs to be preserved.
The story has me wondering about the safety of another incredible synagogue that we saw, the 17th century Pink Synagogue of Zhovka (which is near Lviv).
Obviously, this building is far more intact. Just as obviously, it is (or was in 2005) in a very serious state of disrepair.
I went to look up “pink synagogue zhovka” in Google, and the first hit is my own Laderafrutal travel page! I could not find anything about its current condition, six years since I was there. Maybe no news is good news.
Another case of the analysts for the State Department getting things right, at at time when others (such as many, perhaps most news reporters) would be the Ukrainian legislative election of 2006. This was the first election following the Orange Revolution. As I noted at the time, there were media claims that the plurality by the Party of Regions, backing defeated presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych, somehow represented a setback for the parties of the Orange Revolution. But, as I also noted at the time, the Ukrainian constitution made it fairly straightforward for a post-electoral majority coalition to form against the plurality party, and thus determine the composition of the cabinet–if they could conclude successful negotiations. The Orange Revolution was a coalition of parties, and they had together won more votes than the Party of Regions. The results actually were a confirmation that the Orange Revolution was ongoing, and represented a real break from previous results, under the pre-reform electoral system, as a table I prepared at the time made clear.
Fundamentally,voting for the Verkhovna Rada reinforced the results of the ultimate Orange win in the 2004 presidential election with remarkably similar aggregate numbers: a majority of Ukrainians supported politicians/parties with overtly pro-Western, pro-reform orientations. The 2006 results also confirmed substantial shifts in the electorate from the 2002 Rada election. [...]
Despite incompetence and intra-Orange squabbling by the “Maidan” team in office, significantly lower growth figures, and disillusionment among ordinary
Ukrainians in 2005, voters on March 26 delivered a remarkably similar percentage of votes to the parties who stood together on Maidan as they had to Yushchenko in 2004…
Ultimately, after that election, the Orange parties failed to form that majority coalition, when the Socialists (who had been part of the Orange bloc in 2004) joined with Regions, along with President Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine. Although the cable does not predict such a result–its purpose was to review the elections–it does contain what, at least in retrospect, looks like a warning sign:
The Socialists (SPU) can also be considered a secondary winner in the 2006 cycle, even if they aspired to more than the 5.7% they received in their predicted fourth-place finish. The Socialists expanded a nationwide party structure and polled nearly evenly across the country, the only such Ukrainian political force to do so; they confirmed party leader Olexander Moroz’s 2004 presidential first-round third-place support (5.8%), which pushed them past the Communists for the first time as Ukraine’s leading “leftist” (in traditional European terms) force… While the Socialist niche is modest, it is well-defined, with a generally forward-looking, positive political agenda (its economic ideas, however, remain antediluvian).
Perhaps, then, the failure of the Orange parties’ collective majority to cohere into a pro-Western coalition after the election should not have been a surprise–particularly given that “intra-Orange squabbling.” Ultimately, another election in 2007 resulted in the Socialists not returning to parliament, and the Orange coalition finally being constituted–for a while.
All in all, the immediate post-election analysis revealed in the leaked cable was solid. And far better than most media reporting at the time. If only the public could see this sort of reporting in real time–there was nothing in it calling for secrecy–instead of having to rely on reporters and commercial media that are all too often driven by interests other than accurate election coverage.
In Ukraine’s runoff, it appears that Viktor Yanukovych has now won (probably legitimately, despite the protests of the runner-up/incumbent premier) the presidency that he was initially (but fraudulently) said to have won in 2004. It was a relatively narrow win, so by now he has earned the name Landslide Viktor.
In Nigeria, power has finally been transferred to an Acting President while the elected one remains hospitalized in Saudi Arabia (for two months now, and counting). His name offers something his country’s politics surely require: Goodluck.
Recently re-elected Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa has, as expected, dissolved parliament. (Elections will be only about two months ahead of when they needed to be held in any case.) Meanwhile, the candidate Rajapaksa defeated, former army commander Sarath Fonseka, is apparently under arrest. What was it that Juan Linz said about “zero sum” presidentialism?
Does anyone know of a worse showing for a president seeking reelection than Viktor Yushchenko’s 6%, according to exit polls from today’s election? I can’t even think of another incumbent who failed to make the top two.
Speaking of top two, those would be (as expected) Viktor Yanukovych and Yuliya Tymoshenko. They finished at 32% and 27%, respectively (and again, according to exit polls), and will face off in the runoff.
I suppose it would be far too much to ask of journalists and headline writers to refrain from saying that any candidate “wins” the first round of an election that must go to a runoff, wouldn’t it? It seems to me that if anyone wins the first round of a top-2 runoff it would be, well the top two. Unlike all the other candidates (sixteen of them in Ukraine), those two get to go on and see who ultimately will win.
This Sunday, 17 January, voters in Chile and Ukraine will vote in presidential elections. In Ukraine the vote will be the first round of a near-certain two-round contest, while in Chile it is a top-two runoff.
This will be Ukraine’s first presidential election since the Orange Revolution of late 2004, and the man whose name was chanted for days and nights by the crowds in the central square of Kyiv, Viktor Yushchenko, is expected to place no higher than third and thus be eliminated. I wonder how often an incumbent president fails to place in the top two–not very often, I presume. The runoff would thus pit Yuliya Tymoshenko against Viktor Yanukovych–the same two who have taken turns in the prime minister’s chair since the Orange Revolution. Given the voting patterns that have characterized Ukraine’s legislativeelections during Yushchenko’s term, one hardly needs to consult the polls to predict that Yanukovych will “win” the first round (leading to predictable hand-wringing about Ukraine returning to Russia’s orbit), but Tymoshenko will win the decisive second round.
In Chile, most of the polls and punditry say that this is the year that the right, behind the candidacy of Sebastian Pinera, wins executive power through an election for the first time since 1958. I would not write off the Concertacaion (center-left) candidate, Eduardo Frei, just yet, however. A poll this week puts Pinera up only 50.9-49.1. Needless to say, that’s too close to call. Pinera led 44.1 to 29.6, with 20.1 for independent-left candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami Gumucio (ME-O), in the first round. So the big factor is how many ME-O voters get over their unhappiness with ex-president Frei of the Christian Democratic Party being the center-left candidate and return to the Concertacion fold for the runoff. In the legislative elections held concurrent with the first round, the two main blocs were very close (44.4 for the Concertacion and 43.4 for the Coalicion por el Cambio for the Chamber of Deputies). Obviously, many ME-O voters kept to the old habit of voting Concertacion for the legislative race. Will they do so in the presidential runoff? (First round discussion at F&V.)
For the second time since the Orange Revolution of late 2004, a coalition cabinet consisting of the parties of President Viktor Yushchenko and Yulia Tymoshenko, who led these coalitions as Prime Minister, has been formally dissolved.
While US media coverage has focused on divisions with respect to the recent Russia-Georgia conflict as underlying the split, the real cause is deeper still: the parties remain suspicious of one another and those suspicions, there all along, would only get worse as the 2009 presidential elections approach.
The one manner in which the Russia-Georgia conflict probably has realigned internal Ukrainian politics is that it is now harder to imagine the sort of coalition that initially followed the 2006 parliamentary elections: one between defeated 2004 presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions and Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine.
Given that a government coalition must be proposed by a majority in parliament–there is no provision for the President to appoint a government or for the largest party to form a minority government tolerated if not actively supported by other parties–what options are left? A Tymoshenko-Yanukovych coalition? It is the only formula not yet tried.
Such a coalition does not seem to me as odd as it might at first appear. Tymoshenko has positioned herself–and often been perceived in the West–as the more radical firebrand relative to the more technocratic Yushchenko (who, as a former Central Bank president, is hardly the sort of politician one would ever have imagined having his name chanted by thousands of protesters!). Nonetheless, her electoral coalition spans east and west Ukraine to a greater degree than either of the other two, and the Russia-Georgia conflict revealed her to be somewhat more accommodating towards the government of the Russian Federation than Yushchenko would like to be.
A coalition between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych would be an odd one institutionally, however, in that it would exclude the party of a presidency that remains quite powerful, the legislative initiative in government-formation notwithstanding. One of the greatest powers of the presidency, however, would be neutralized by the Yulia-Regions coalition: a veto that required a two-thirds vote to override. The parties of Tymoshenko and Yanukovych together have over 70% of the seats.
And then, there is always the possibility of constitutional changes that would make the presidency weaker, and the first-linked news item notes that such a possibility actually was one of the triggers of the coalition collapse:
Our Ukraine quit after denouncing a vote to cut presidential powers in which Tymoshenko joined Yanukovich and his party.
Provisions of the constitution make calling an early parliamentary election difficult (though the president managed to find a way a year ago). Besides, new elections would be unlikely to do anything but reconfirm the tripartite division among these three major parties.
In other words, somehow the three titans of post-Orange Revolution Ukraine are going to have to muddle through. Or at least that is how it looks from here. While I follow Ukraine in the sense that I have visited and care a lot about the country, and use it as a case in some of my research and teaching, I do not claim to be an expert. Maybe someone who follows the country more closely can offer some other scenarios, but muddling through is about all I see. (Unless, of course, the Yulia-Regions coalition moves up the presidential election. Is that possible? Just a thought.)
The results of Sunday’s parliamentary election in Ukraine are almost final. It looks like the two erstwhile Orange partners, President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine and the Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT), will have enough seats to reconstitute their coalition, should they be able to conclude an agreement on policy and office spoils.
As was the case in the previous elections of March, 2006, the winner of the plurality of the vote was the Party of Regions, led by Viktor Yanukovych, the man whom Yushchenko defeated in the 2004 “Orange Revolution” re-run of the presidential election that initially had Yanukovych declared, fraudulently, the winner.
However, that is all he has won–the most votes and seats. The Ukrainian constitution gives no advantage in the government-formation process to the largest party (if it has less than 50% of the seats). It also gives no advantage in government-formation to the president. Rather, a majority coalition must be negotiated among parties in parliament summing to more than half the seats, which then presents its candidate for prime minister to the president (who must appoint that candidate).
After the 2006 elections, it was not possible for BYuT and Our Ukraine to form a majority without another party. It was initially expected that the two parties, plus the Socialists, would form a three-party majority coalition. However, the Socialists ultimately opted to form a government with Regions, thus making Yanukovych the prime minister. This government was unstable, racked with charges of corruption and vote-buying, and ultimately was dissolved, paving the way for these early elections.
The big winner is Tymoshenko, whose party gained a whopping eight and a half percentage points, compared with 2006. The Socialists appear to have fallen below the 3% threshold, barely.
Here are the votes percentages and some other facts about the result, with the 2007 number first and the 2006 number and change from 2006 in parentheses.
Votes cast for parties below 3% threshold: 11.4 (22.3)
Lists below the 3% threshold: 15 (40)
Lists with more than 1%, but less than 3%: 2 (6)
I do not have a turnout figure, but we can surmise from Our Ukraine’s raw votes and the fact that as a percentage of the total these did not change, that turnout was down only a little bit. (The Our Ukraine votes were just under 3.3 million in 2007 and just over 3.5 million in 2006.)
Seat estimates are not provided by the Election Commission yet, but the system is one of pure national proportional representation for all parties that cross the 3% threshold. As noted above, the percentage of votes cast on parties that failed to clear the threshold was about half in 2007 what it was in 2006, partly because so few small parties bothered to run this time.
Applying the percentages of each threshold-crossing party to the 88.6% of votes that were “effective” (i.e. not wasted on parties that missed the threshold), we get estimated seat totals as follows:
These results are updated based on 99.99% of returns processed, as reported at the Election Commission website on 5 October. (I have not updated vote totals above; there is only a negligible shift, but it appears enough to turn one seat from BYuT to Regions.)
If those results hold, then the two Orange partners would have 228, or 50.7% of the 450 seats in parliament, two more than needed to constitute a majority. An election can hardly get closer than that! It now appears almost certain that the Socialists will not have representation. Their votes stand at 2.86%.1
It is worth emphasizing again that the parliamentary result will not be decisive for government formation. Two (or possibly more) parties will have to negotiate to appoint a prime minister and cabinet. Of course, Tymoshenko will insist on not only the prime ministership but probably more than a two-thirds majority of the cabinet posts (her party’s proportional contribution to the majority), whereas Yushchenko might try to keep the door open to renewing the coalition with Yanukovych (which would also be a majority), if for no other reason than to keep Tymoshenko from demanding more than he is willing to concede. The president’s party may be small, at 14%, but the presidency remains a powerful institution and, more importantly, his party is in a pivotal position in parliament. The negotiations could go on for a while, but right now, things are looking Orange again in Ukraine.
Click on the country name in the “Planted in” line above to see previous entries on Ukraine.
The following is text from the original when the Socialists still appeared to have a small chance of crossing the threshold. And if the Socialists yet manage to cross the threshold on a final count, BYuT and Our Ukraine would fall below 50%. It is worth noting that the Bloc of Lytvyn is led by the former parliamentary speaker, Volodymyr Lytvyn, who facilitated the negotiations in 2004 that led to the re-run of that year’s presidential election. He would be a potential (though not necessarily reliable) alternative coalition partner should the Socialists’ crossing of the threshold turn out to prevent BYuT and Our Ukraine from having a majority, or should the two main Orange parties not want to take their chances on such a narrow majority coalition. [↩]
Update: With 86% of results processed, it is at knife’s edge. 91.6% of the vote is above-threshold, and the two “Orange” parties have 49% of that. They would be right on the cusp of a majority, but possibly below, if that holds. Yanukovych’s Regions have the plurality (33%), as expected, but less than two percentage points ahead of Tymoshenko’s bloc. The Socialists, as I anticipated below, are also right on the cusp of the threshold–currently .03 above. (But at a later update, with 93.3% counted, the Socialists are .04 below. The crossing, or not, of the threshold by the Socialists appears to be the decisive factor in whether the two Orange parties get over 50% of the seats on their own.
Here is the place to watch the results of Ukraine’s election as they come in: CVK/vnd2007. The site shows the national results. You can also check some of the links on the sidebar of that page for results by oblast, which allows you to see if there is a regional bias of the early results. That is important to projecting from early returns, inasmuch as the major parties dominate their respective regions.
There are “only” twenty lists in this election, compared to 45 in March, 2006. In that election, only five lists cleared the 3% national threshold, and 22.3% of votes were cast for parties that fell below it.
The percentage of the vote that is below the threshold will again be almost as critical to the prospects of reviving the “Orange” coalition (Tymoshenko and Our Ukraine) as will the votes for those two lists. A key thing to watch: Whether the Socialist Party, whose turn against the Orange was critical to the current cohabitation with Yanukovych, makes it back into parliament. It will be a close call.
Today is the Ukrainian “snap” parliamentary election–almost exactly 18 months after the last one, which was supposed to be for a four-year term.
The Economist has a reasonably good summary of the campaign. However, it makes the mistake of referring to the plurality by the Party of Regions (led by Viktor Yanukovych) as the “big winner” of that election. Given that Yanukovych himself had won 46% in the two-candidate presidential runoff in December, 2004, after having won 41% in the first round (which was probably somewhat inflated by fraud), his party’s 32% in March, 2006, was less than a “big” viktory.
The Australian notes the results of a recent poll by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology:
Yanukovych’s Regions Party will win 34 per cent, followed by the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc with 25.7 per cent, and Mr Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine party with 11.9 per cent.
It is striking how almost static the political support of these three parties has been. See the table of results below (which has been discussed at various earlier plantings on Ukraine, which you can find by clicking the country name in the “planted in” line above, and scrolling).
One key to this election will be the extent of the below-threshold vote. Ukraine elects its parliament by a single nationwide district, 3% threshold. In March, 2006, the 32% for Regions translated into 41% of the above-threshold vote, while Tymoshenko and Yushchenko’s blocs combined for around 47%. A small increase in their combined votes, or a decline in votes cast for below-threshold parties (perhaps accompanied by a likely smaller turnout) could give these two “Orange Revolution” parties together a majority in parliament.
However, the real key is not so much the election result–unless there is a surprise–but the bargaining after the election. That bargaining, more than the election result itself, will determine whether Tymoshenko and Yushchenko can resume their former coalition, or whether the current cohabitation of the two Viktors will continue.
Click the image to open a larger format in a new window.
Ukraine’s early-term parliamentary election is one week from today. A TZ-NZ report sums it up well. Noting that the two Viktors–Premier Yanukovych and President Yushchenko were campaigning in their strongholds, it said:
The speeches at opposite ends of the country of 47 million will do nothing to allay doubts that the election can end months of deadlock and bridge the gap between two competing traditions.
Meanwhile, Yanukovych on Thursday threatened to withdraw from the election, prompting me to wonder if a governing party has ever boycotted an election anywhere in the annals of elections.
Polling appears to show Regions (Yanukovych’s party) with a plurality, but with the two erstwhile “Orange” parties together having more votes. In other words, just like March, 2006.
Hot on the heals of yesterday’s Ukraine lists update, in comes an interesting item from Zerkalo Nedeli on the internal and regional politics behind Ukraine’s major parties and their national, closed lists. Far too much to summarize, but very interesting.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4