A ‘personal vote’ in Ukraine’s closed list? Kyiv mayor elected with 32%, also elected to parliament

There may have been a lot of wasted votes in the parliamentary election in Ukraine, with over 22% of the votes having been cast for parties that failed to clear the 2% threshold. But that’s really nothing compared to the Kyiv mayor’s race, decided by a plurality of the vote.

With over 80 percent of the ballots counted on March 29, Chernovetsky had 32 percent of the vote, well ahead of former heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko (23 percent) and [two-term incumbent Oleksandr] Omelchenko (21 percent), despite long-running polls showing a different picture.

A pre-election poll had put Omelchenko ahead with 26%, but also showed 27% undecided, the Kyiv Post reports.

Obviously, voters can’t vote strategically, even if they might want to do so, without good information. And with many voters undecided, good information is hard to come by.


Chernovetsky is 29th on the pro-presidential Our Ukraine’s party list, which means he is guaranteed a seat in parliament as well.

So, this, in part, answers a question I have had about how a closed-list system is going to work in Ukraine’s single national district. One of the potential problems of closed lists in very large-magnitude districts (and 450 certainly qualifies as “very large”) is that not only do voters have no way to favor one or more candidates within the list over others, but they also may not know who is on the list, and there may be no effective local representation (because national party leaders determine the order of the list).

One way around that is for parties to place mayors or–if simultaneous candidacies are allowed–mayoral candidates, on the list. Then the mayor (or candidate) can serve as the “local face” of the party. If voters who might not otherwise support the party are drawn to it because they like the mayoral candidate who is also on the list, then a “personal vote” may have helped the party notwithstanding that there is no candidate vote for Ukrainian parliament. (Of course, the presence of the victorious mayoral candidate on the list is not evidence that such a personal vote existed, but it is evidence that the party believed it would exist.)

Similar strategies are used in Israel, also a closed-list system in a single nationwide district (albeit in a mere 120-seat district and in a much smaller country). In fact, I have seen a paper that shows that there is actually a very high degree of local representation in Israel, as parties seek to offer regional balance on their lists, in part by the use of mayors as legislative candidates.

Back in Kyiv, the Tymoshenko bloc is expected to have won around a third of the seats on the 120-seat city council. The new mayor’s party, Oour Ukraine, is expected to come in second. Apparently, there was a good deal of ticket splitting. I would normally expect divergence between parties’ votes in the executive and legislative races with plurality for mayor and PR for council; however, I would not necessarily expect it when the plurality race had shown so little consolidation of the leading candidates’ vote shares. That it happened is more suggestive evidence that Chernovetsky had a personal vote, and thus outpolled his party.*

[See the full KPost story]

* If anyone has the party votes breakdown in Kyiv (and elsewhere) in parliament and council elections, please post–or provide a link or a guide to how to find the link. I was looking for it on the Election Commission website, but could not locate it, since my Ukrainian reading level is somewhat low (understatement alert!!).

0 thoughts on “A ‘personal vote’ in Ukraine’s closed list? Kyiv mayor elected with 32%, also elected to parliament

  1. Chernovetsky will have a separate faction in the Kyic City Council. The PGO is investigating him for possibly bribing voters. It is unfortunate Klitshcko and Omelchenko both ran. I believe there should be a run-off between Klitschko and Chernovetsky.
    As to national lists, I believe they are hedging their bets as much as seeking regional figures.


  2. Kyiv City Rada

    The Bloc of Yuliya Tymoshenko got the most powerful faction, having gained 41 mandate out of 120, the Bloc of Leonid Chernovetskyi, who was elected the Kyiv Mayor, got 21 mandate, the Bloc “Our Ukraine” 15 mandates, the Bloc of Vitaliy Klychko “PORA-PRP” 14 mandates, the Party of Regions 9 mandates, the Civil Active of Kyiv 7 seats, the Socialist Party 7 seats and the Bloc of Lytvyn 6 seats. As many as 1,439,336 Kyiv residents voted in the Kyiv City Rada elections.


    98-22 Orange 🙂 From what I’ve seen, the local elections in other cities and regions tend to parallel the national count. I’ll try to get more info after the recounts.


  3. Pingback: Fruits and Votes » Blog Archive » Party lists stifling dissent in South Africa–closed party lists, that is

  4. The party votes breakdown in Kyiv-city in the 2006 parliament elections:
    1. Bloc Tymoshenko 39%
    2. Our Ukraine 16%
    3. Party of the regions 12%
    4. Socialists 5,5%
    You can access the results per “oblast” by clicking on the party name in http://www.cvk.gov.ua/vnd2006/w6p001e.html (english)

    Putin has reformed the Duma election system: the russian parliament will also be elected by PR (with 7% threshold) in one constituency of 450 seats. (http://www.russiavotes.org/electorallawchange3.htm) Can someone comment that move? I think most parties will stop investing in a locally inplanted basis when they don’t have to contest 225 single-seat constituencies any more: party strength will only depend on a national well-known personality (like the president himself).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.