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.