Lists registered for Ukraine’s early election (now not as early)

Replanting of an earlier entry, extended due to new developments

According to the Central Election Commission, just five lists submitted complete packages necessary to run lists in the upcoming early legislative elections (set tentatively now for 24 June 30 September):

All Ukrainian Party of People’s Confidence,

People’s Movement of Ukraine (Rukh)

“Green Ecologists – Rayduha /Rainbow/” electoral bloc of political parties,

Our Ukraine People’s Union (NSNU) political party, and

“Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc” electoral bloc of political parties.

On Thursday, there had been reports that Tymoshenko would boycott by not presenting her list’s registration by the 24 May deadline.

Five lists would be a massive drop-off from the March, 2006, elections. In that election, there were 45 different lists and more than one fifth of votes cast went to lists that failed to clear the 3% threshold in Ukraine’s single national district election. In that election, only five lists cleared the threshold, including two (Socialists and Communists) that have not registered their own lists this time. (The Socialist leader, Oleksander Moroz, is a significant power-broker and speaker of the parliament, who surprisingly threw his support behind Victor Yanukovych for the premiership, so I would guess he is running on Yanukovych’s list this time.)

A smaller number of entrants in 2007–were it to hold (see discussion below)–could have an impact on the balance of forces in the new parliament, although I am not sure in which direction. My hunch is in favor of Yushchenko or Tymoshenko more than in favor of prime minister Victor Yanukovych. (Note: “hunch” not “prediction.”)

However, all of this is very much in flux. In addition to the controversy over when to hold early elections, the various political leaders have been discussing possible electoral-system changes. Tymoshenko, who was among those calling for the elections to be in September rather than June, has also been talking about raising the threshold to ten percent.

Meanwhile, the Yushchenko-Yanukovych seriously escalated at week’s end, with the president issuing a decree to assume control of the interior security forces from the cabinet. The prime minister vowed to defy the order, which was a response to the Interior Minister’s use of the troops to try to prevent another presidential decree–this one dismissing the state prosecutor–from taking effect.

With today’s (27 May) agreement on an election date, the crisis appears to be over–at least for now. Things got very tense:

The president summoned thousands of troops to Ukraine’s capital Saturday, but forces loyal to the nation’s prime minister stopped them outside Kiev.

Yushchenko wanted the elections earlier than Yanukovych did, so we could conclude that Yanukovych won this latest showdown.

The Guardian story, just quoted, continues to miss the point about the general continuity of the trend away from the Yanukovych bloc in Ukrainian politics–a point I have emphasized many times. The story, referring to the March, 2006, parliamentary elections that followed by just over a year the election of Yushchenko amidst the Orange Revolution, states:

Yanukovych staged a remarkable political comeback. In last year’s parliamentary elections, his party won the largest share of seats, apparently benefiting from wide voter dissatisfaction with the country’s stalled reforms and internecine political sparring.

Of course, there was no such benefit; in fact, Yanukovych suffered quite an electoral defeat in March, 2006, as even a rather casual look at the results of recent elections will show. In the runoff re-vote in 2005, Yanukovych won 45.9% of the national vote. He had won 41.4% in the first round, a figure that was almost certainly inflated by fraud. In March, 2006, his party won 32.1%. Some benefit from “voter dissatisfaction”! Some comeback!

Yanukovych’s actual comeback–that is, his being named prime minister last August after the Yuschchenko-Tymoshenko-Moroz coalition broke up–is entirely attributable to failures of coordination among the Orange parties. And whether they can coordinate during and after the upcoming election campaign will determine their ability to reinstate their coalition. It remains unlikely there will be much vote swing between the camps represented by the president and premier.

A key indicator of the extent of coordination will come soon. With the election being delayed, the list registration process may be reopened (and so may talks on changing the election rules themselves, as alluded to above). If the process is re-opened, will more lists enter? And if so, will the entry of new lists further divide the Orange bloc? Stay tuned.

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