07/02/2010 - Results - 2nd round
Viktor Yanukovych won the second round of the Ukrainian presidential election organised on 7th February last. According to the final results given by the central electoral Commission of Ukraine, Viktor Ianoukovitch, leader of the Region's Party, won the election with 48,95% of the 25 493 529 expressed votes, against 45,47% of the votes for Ioulia Timochenko.
The Ukrainians turned out en masse in comparison with the disinterest they seemed to bear with regard to the campaign, the turnout rising to nearly 70%. Slightly over 4% of the voters opted for "against all candidates
" a possibility offered by the Ukrainian law.
According to an OSCE report the elections are in line with European standards and were "much more democratic than in many other former Soviet countries.
During the two weeks leading up to the second round of the election a kind of hysteria seemed to reign in both of the candidates' camps. Accusations of fraud flew from one camp to another each declaring that the other party wanted to sabotage the election. Everything started with the dismissal of the Interior Minister, approved fifteen days before the election by MPs, the idea being to upset Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Viktor Yanukovych succeeded in forming a makeshift coalition in parliament rallying the votes of MPs of "Our Ukraine
", the party of outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko, who was eliminated in the first round.
Viktor Yanukovych's camp struck again in Parliament five days before the election by pushing through a last minute amendment to the electoral law. According to this text the quorum of two-thirds and the parity of both camps in the local electoral committees are now no longer necessary for the results to be deemed valid. This decision "which did not influence the results
", in the opinion of Heidi Tagliavini, head of the observation mission at the OSCE in Ukraine was however severely criticized by the international community. But this did not really upset Yanukovych one of whose right-hand men declared that they were ready "to change the law five minutes before the election if necessary ...
In spite of the dubious organisation with regard to the legislative context observers said that voting took place calmly and without any major infringement. This was a declaration that did not suit Yulia Tymoshenko, who seemed determined to challenge the results. Hence the obvious warning on the part of the observers with regard to the potential fury on the part of the Prime Minister, "the pessimistic scenario which we heard about over the last few days did not occur,
" declared Assem Agov, "The political elites must accept this result and start work towards the peaceful transition of power.
In the evening of 7th February Viktor Yanukovych was modestly triumphant. Accused of electoral fraud five years ago, ridiculed as a puppet of the Kremlin by his opponents the head of the Party of Regions preferred to play a rallying role this time round. "This victory is the first step towards the unification of the country and towards stability
" he said. "I shall take Ms Tymoshenko's voters on board and those of the candidates who did not go on to the second round. I do not want enemies but the contrary – I want to fight against the real dangers which threaten the country, which are poverty and corruption.
Unity and stability, these are key words for a country that is still divided with regard to its political hopes if we are to believe the figures. The electoral map, which is split between red and blue, is the proof of this polarisation. Viktor Yanukovych easily won in the east and the south of the Ukraine with peaks of popularity in the regions of Donetsk (90.4%), Lougansk (88.8%) and in the autonomous region of Crimea (78.3%). Yulia Tymoshenko scored full marks in the west and the centre with for example 86.2% of the vote in Lviv and 88.8% in Ivano-Frankivsk. As usual the region of Kiev voted against the national trend giving 69.7% to Yulia Tymoshenko against 23.6% to Viktor Yanukovych. It is surprising that the vote "against everyone
" achieved its highest score in Kiev (8%) where the inhabitants have been its seems extremely sensitive to a campaign launched between rounds by some influential personalities in the media and often remnants of the Orange Revolution in 2004 who called for a vote against both of the candidates.
With a final result that was extremely tight (3.5%) the game is far from being won for the future president. In addition to this Viktor Yanukovych will have to work with Yulia Tymoshenko who is still in office as head of government. Although MPs can overturn a majority from time to time the Ukrainian Constitution makes it obligatory, if a new coalition is to be formed, to obtain the majority of one political party. From a formal point of view Viktor Yanukovych and his Regions Party have not held the majority in Parliament since the general elections of 2007 which were won by Yulia Tymoshenko. It is therefore going to be difficult for the new president to win no confidence vote against the Prime Minister. Viktor Yanukovych will also be running an enormous risk if he calls for general elections, since he is threatened by new political parties created after the first round. Yulia Tymoshenko can therefore negotiate the upkeep of her position as Prime Minister or she may decide to resign and run as the leader of the new opposition which has the support of 11 million votes won in the second round. "In any case we cannot expect this presidential election to bring political stability back to Ukraine
" says Nico Lange, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's office in Ukraine.