Friday, July 31, 2009

Moldova: Election maths

Preliminary Analysis of last Wednesday's Moldovan election highlights some of the issues with the D'Hondt System particularity when it involves a representation threshold.

Comparison between the April election and the July election shows a consolidation of votes with fewer minor parties running for election. In April there were 12 parties plus independents. In July only 8 parties contested the election with The Green party being the only new constant.

The consolidation of the vote and reduction in the number of disenfranchised voters has a significant effect on the outcome of the election.

In April, Four political parties received sufficient votes to cross the 7% representative threshold, together they represented 84.8% of the total vote. The other minor parties collectively represented the balance of 15.2%

In July, Five political parties representing 95.8% crossed the new representation threshold of 5% and 4.2% were denied representation - a shift of 11%

Statistically in a re-run election the ruling party loses 4% to 6% of the vote. Moldova was no exception. However the ruling party suffered a 12 seat loss.

The ruling Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (CPRM) suffered a swing of 4.79%. In April they received 49.48% of the vote and in July 44.69%. This translated into 60 seats in the April election and only 48 seats in July.

The reason for the dramatic loss in representation was not so much as the 4.79% swing but more to do with the percentage of parties that crossed the threshold. In April the CPRM benefited from minor opposition parties low vote.

The representation threshold distorts the proportionality of the number of seats to the percentage of votes. The less the percentage of disenfranchised voters the more accurate reflection of the electorate in the overall results.

In Moldova the political parties and or voters realised that they needed to consolidate their support base in order to win representation.


The Swings and shifts of support

The Communist Party of Moldova lost 4.79% which was translated into a loss of 12 seats mainly because three additional parties - Democratic Party of Moldova, Christian Democratic People’s Party, Social Democratic Party (representing a total of 9.7% in April) crossed the 7% representation threshold. In April their votes were wasted in July they counted.

The biggest gain was the Democratic Party of Moldova (+9.57%) followed by Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (+4.14%)

“Moldova Noastra (Our Moldova)” Alliance recorded a swing of -2.42% against them as did the Christian Democratic People’s Party (-1.79%) and the Social Democratic Party (-1.18%)

July 2009 % Vote Swing Seats % seats
Communists Party 44.69% -4.79% 48 47.52%
Liberal Democratic Party 16.57% 4.14% 18 17.82%
Liberal Party 14.68% 1.55% 15 14.85%
Democratic Party 12.54% 9.57% 13 12.87%
Our Moldova Alliance 7.35% -2.42% 7
6.93%
Christian Democratic People’s Party 1.91% -1.79% 0
Social Democratic Party 1.86% -1.18% 0
Green Alliance 0.41% 0.41% 0

100.00%
101


April 2009 % Vote
Seats % seats
Communists Party 49.48%
60 59.41%
Liberal Democratic Party 12.43%
15 14.85%
Liberal Party 13.13%
15 14.85%
Democratic Party 2.97%


Our Moldova Alliance 9.77%
11 10.89%
Christian Democratic People’s Party 3.70%


Social Democratic Party 3.04%


Centrist Union 2.75%


Social-Political Movement 1.01%


Conservative Party 0.29%


United Moldova 0.22%


Republican Party 0.09%


Independents 1.12%



100.00%
101


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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Moldova: 4.72% Swing against the Communist Party in re-run election

The ruling Communist Party of Moldova, with 98% of the vote counted, is showing a swing of less then 5% down from 49.48% to 44.76% in the re-run election

Statistically in any re-run ballot there is a 4% to 6% swing against the government, Moldova is proving no exception.

It also raises questions as to the likely result on the second round of Ukraine's 2004 presidential ballot. Viktor Yushchenko, following the re-run presidential election, won 52% of the vote indicating that he had really only won 48% of the second round ballot.

Source: alegeri.md

Table updated: 4 August 2009 (Final Results)

Party % Vote Swing Seats
Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova 44.69% -4.79% 48
Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova 16.57% 4.14% 18
Liberal Party 14.68% 1.55% 15
Democratic Party of Moldova 12.54% 9.57% 13
“Moldova Noastra (Our Moldova)” Alliance 7.35% -2.42% 7
Christian Democratic People’s Party 1.91% -1.79% 0
Social Democratic Party 1.86% -1.18% 0
Ecological Party of Moldova (Green Alliance) 0.41% 0.41% 0

100.00%
101

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Presidential direct election to cost Ukraine over 1.5 Billion UAH

WHAT PRICE IS DEMOCRACY REALLY WORTH?

The cost of holding the Presidential election which is scheduled for January 17, 2010 has skyrocketed and is now estimated to cost over 1.5 billion UAH (Aprox. 200 Million US Dollars) according to Ukraine's CEC estimates

The previous presidential election in 2004 cost 391 million UAH.

The 1.5 Billion UAH only covers the direct costs of two rounds of voting, this does not include the indirect costs associated with the campaign and impact to Ukraine's economy, estimated to add a further 2 Billion UAH to the overall cost

With a bill of over 3 Billion UAH, Ukraine must be beginning to seriously question the value of the Presidential election. A cost that can not be readily justified given that there are perfectly acceptable democratic alternatives.

The Alternatives.


The cost of the Presidential election could be halved if Ukraine adopted a single round Preferential voting system. Under a preferential voting system voters are asked to rank in order of preference the candidates of their choosing. If no single candidate has an absolute majority (50% or more) then the candidates with the lowest votes are excluded from the count and their votes are redistributed according to the voters nominated order of preference. One round at half the cost with the results known in days as opposed to months.

The other alternative would be for the President to be appointed by a Constitutional majority of the Parliament. A system of Parliamentary appointment of Heads of State is common thought Europe. Greece which is considered the founding state of democracy appoints its head of state by it's parliament.

A proposal to introduce a Parliamentary appointment system failed when negotiations between Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko and Party of Regions collapsed in June.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yushchenko moves into the last six months of his five-year term of office

On January 23, 2005 Viktor Yushchenko took the oath commencing his five-year term of office.

As of today Yushchenko has less then six months remaining of his five-year term.

With the passing of this date Yushchenko loses authority to dismiss Ukraine's parliament.

Article 90 of Ukraine's Constitution removes the authority of the President to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament within the last six months of the President's term of office.

In 2007 Yushchenko dismissed Ukraine's democratically elected parliament and illegally and unconstitutionally interfered in the independence an operation of Ukraine's Constitutional Court in order to prevent the Court from ruling on the constitutionally of his April 2nd decree.

Any attempt by the President to dismiss Ukraine's parliament for a second time will be challenged in Ukraine's Constitutional Court and cause a repeat of the political and civil unrest that occurred in 2007.

Yushchenko can not afford the political fall out of an adverse ruling of the Constitutional Court and cause another debilitating political crisis in the lead-up to Presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010.



Article 90

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine is terminated on the day of the opening of the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of a new convocation.

The President of Ukraine may terminate the authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine prior to the expiration of term, if:

(1) there is a failure to form within one month a coalition of parliamentary factions in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine as provided for in Article 83 of this Constitution;

(2) there is a failure, within sixty days following the resignation of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, to form the personal composition of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;

(3) the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine fails, within thirty days of a single regular session, to commence its plenary meetings.

The early termination of powers of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall be decided by the President of Ukraine following relevant consultations with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairpersons of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and with Chairpersons of Verkhovna Rada parliamentary factions.

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, that is elected at special elections conducted after the pre-term termination by the President of Ukraine of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of the previous convocation, shall not be terminated within one year from the day of its election.

The authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine shall not be terminated during the last six months of the term of authority of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine or President of Ukraine.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Revelations, Scepticism and Conspiracies - The stuff that Hollywood dramas are made from.

Extraordinary revelations about Ukraine's highest political assignation has dominated Ukraine with the news of the arrest of former General-Lieutenant Oleksiy Pukach, who was detained for his involvement in journalist Gregory Gongadze's murder yesterday.

Oleksiy Pukach is reported as having lived in Ukraine since he was put in the wanted list and has avoid capture until now.

It is also claimed that he has confessed to his involvement in murder and knows the location of Gongadze's missing decapitated head and has named names of those involved.

This is indeed good news for Ukraine if the reports are true and it does deliver justice and brings those involved in Gongadze's assignation to account

News of Pukach arrest has been met with scepticism by Gongadze's wife who has been campaigning to have her husbands killers and those who ordered the assignation brought to justice. Gongadze's murder goes right to the top with allegations of involvement of Ukraine's former President, Leonard Kuchma and a cover-up conspiracy involving Ukraine's incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko.

Myroslava Gongadze is certain that the order to kill her husband didn’t come from Pukach. But he may be the key link in solving the mystery of who did. “To name those who ordered the murder is one thing, but to gather evidence and charge them is another matter,” she said. “I want to stress that Pukach is only a link in the chain of murderers. The question is open about who ordered it and if there would be enough political will to bring charges against them.”

“I had almost lost hope that he would ever be caught,” she said. “Whether it’s connected to a political campaign, I am not sure. But in the course of eight years, Georgiy’s murder became a political case. A lot of political forces and leaders fight for it, whether they are interested in its outcome or not. That’s why the timing is not that important to me. What’s important is that the case is still open and that there will be more revelations.”

This is the stuff of Hollywood crime mysteries, spies and government conspiracies. It is hard to believe that MI5 could make such a stuff up in the investigations.

Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, was quick to be seen associated with the arrest and the possibility of Gongadze's killers bought to account. (If only the same could be achieved for those involved in the allegations of Yushchenko's poisoning five years ago - allegations that have not been tested in a court of law)

The test and challenge will be keeping Pukach alive so that his testimony can be recorded and tried in open court. The last thing Ukraine needs is it's own version of Lee Harvey Oswald.



Timeline of Georgiy Gongadze case
Source Kyiv Post

A timeline that starts before Gongadze’s disappearance, highlights individuals at the center of the investigation and shows how investigators have failed to solve the vicious murder.

July-August 2000 Georgiy Gongadze, founder and editor of the Ukrainska Pravda website, told a Kyiv Post reporter that he was being persecuted for his hard-hitting journalism. He complained to many people that he was being followed and harassed by the authorities, and that he feared for his life.

Sept. 16, 2000 Gongadze kidnapped on his way home.

Sept. 17, 2000 Criminal case launched into his disappearance.

Nov. 2, 2000 Gongadze’s beheaded corpse found about 100 kilometers south of Kyiv; his head still has not been found.

Nov. 28, 2000 Oleksandr Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party and a leading opponent to President Leonid Kuchma, unveils audio recordings allegedly made by the president’s bodyguard, Mykola Melnychenko. The tapes seem to implicate Kuchma in Gongadze’s abduction. The tapes included conversations with voices resembling Kuchma, chief of staff Volodymyr Lytvyn, State Security Service head Leonid Derkach and Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko, discussing how to get rid of Gongadze, who had irritated Kuchma with his muckraking journalism.

Feb. 27, 2001 General Prosecutor’s Office initiates criminal case into the intentional murder of Gongadze.

2002 – 2003 Prosecutorial investigators suggest police officers could have been involved in the murder.

October 2003 General prosecutor Svyatoslav Piskun arrests police general Oleksiy Pukach on suspicion of involvement in Gongadze’s disappearance and murder. Kuchma dismisses Piskun; Pukach is released from custody by a court ruling and ultimately flees the country.

December 2004 Court reinstates Piskun as general prosecutor

December 2004 Victor Yushchenko propelled to Ukraine’s presidency by the Orange Revolution and promises that the case of Gongadze and other crimes from the past will be solved. Lytvyn continues to serve as speaker of Ukraine’s parliament, a post he assumed in 2002, when he stepped down as presidential chief of staff.

March 1, 2005 Yushchenko announces that Gongadze’s assassins have been arrested

March 3, 2005 Piskun announces plans to question former interior minister Kravchenko as a witness in the Gongadze case. However, the next day, Kravchenko was found dead with two gunshots to the head in what investigators called a probable suicide. He was to appear for questioning that very day.

Nov. 23, 2005 Kyiv Appellate Court commences proceedings in a case against Mykola Protasov, Valeriy Kostenko and Oleksandr Popovych, three police officers accused of physically killing Gongadze upon the orders of Pukach, who had fled

November 2005 European Court of Human Rights orders Ukraine to pay 100,000 euros to Myroslava Gongadze as compensation for moral and material losses due to the country’s inability to properly investigate the murder.

2006 Ruling coalition led by Victor Yanukovych appoints Moroz as parliament speaker in place of Lytvyn.

Fall 2007 Moroz loses parliament speaker job after his party falls short of the cutoff in a snap election

March 15, 2008 Protasov, Kostenko and Popovych sentenced to 12-13 years in prison for their participation in the murder. Pukach remains at large.

August 2008 Moroz, who first blew the whistle on Gongadze’s murder, told a journalist that he didn’t think Kuchma was responsible. “Kuchma’s [emotional] complexes were used: his hot temper and lack of restraint. His statements were twisted and used very well. I do not think he had anything to do with the journalist’s death,” Moroz said, a few days before Kuchma’s lavish 70th birthday celebration.

December 2008 Lytvyn regains position as parliament’s speaker after his faction in parliament forms coalition with the bloc led by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

February 2009 The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopts a resolution demanding Ukraine finish the Gongadze investigation, and conduct proper investigations into the death of Kravchenko and the release from custody of Pukach. Ukraine’s prosecutors announce they will appoint international experts to examine the Melnychenko recordings, more than eight years after they surfaced.

May-June 2009 Former Interior Ministry General Eduard Fere, a former associate of Kravchenko and key suspect in the Gongadze case, dies in a Ukrainian hospital, allegedly after spending the previous six years in a coma. The death of Fere is dubbed by Reporters Without Borders as a serious blow to the investigation. He and another former top law enforcement official under Kravchenko, Yuriy Degaev, are suspected of ordering Pukach to murder Gongadze, but it remains unclear to this day where the orders originated. Without testimony of Degaev, Fere, Kravchenko and Pukach, it may be impossible to identify who gave the orders.

July 22 2009 Ukrainian law enforcement captures Pukach.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

3% Barrier to democratic reform

Ukraine's 3% representation barrier has disenfranchised millions of Ukrainians and is not only undemocratic it's unnecessary.

Roman Marchenko, (Kyiv post) raises a valid concern about Ukraine's electoral system and the barrier to democratic representation.

The problem with the 3% barrier is that the votes are discarded and, as correctly pointed out by Roman Marchenko, millions of citizens disenfranchised in the process.

The preferred alternative is to create smaller localised electorates with each electorate returning nine members of parliament elected on a 10% quota by a system of preferential proportional representation (Meeks method). With this model there is no need for artificial representation barriers and supporters of minor candidates are not disenfranchised as their vote would be redistributed in order of their nominated preference. 40 (or 50) by 9 member local electorates would provide a good workable representational model whilst maintaining democratic values.

The introduction of a single transferable vote (STV) system and smaller localised electorates (each electorate MUST be equal in the number of representatives elected and within +/- 5% in the number of constituents) gives those Ukrainians the right to be represented by someone of their choosing. The Meeks method of counting further adds to the democratic representation. The key being equality and workability. Proportional representation at its purest and most effective.

Lower the 3 percent barrier

By law, parliamentarians are elected on the basis of a proportional system. At the same time, only those parties (blocs) that get at least 3 percent of votes can participate in the distribution of deputies’ mandates.

In the last election we watched a desperate struggle among some political parties for the “cherished” three percent threshold. The Socialists gained 2.86 percent of votes, while the Progressive Socialists got 1.86 percent. These figures mean that more than one and a half million Ukrainians voted for these political forces that are unrepresented in the Verkhovna Rada.

Their votes were distributed among parties which overcame the 3 percent barrier and implemented political ideas that did not correspond to the wishes of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians – and sometimes even contradicted those wishes. In the 2007 parliamentary election, about 7 percent of electors voted for parties that didn’t gain 3 percent. In 2006, the opinion of 18 percent of electors wasn’t taken into account!

There are great doubts that the 3 percent access barrier is democratic. One of the fundamental principles of democracy is political pluralism – a government that takes into account the will of the majority and to the will of minority. Practically, it means that the political minority can be represented in different state bodies as well as in the parliament.

The rights of the minority can’t be annulled by the votes of majority. But we have a strange situation. The state declares democratic principles in the Constitution, but introduces the high access barrier. This devalues the role of citizens in ruling the country.

In my opinion, even a 1 percent barrier would be undemocratic. I can appeal to the following logic. If 450 deputies of Verkhovna Rada represent 100 percent of electors, then one deputy represents approximately 0.22 percent. Thus, we have come to the very percent of access barrier (0.2 percent) which would mathematically meet the Constitution.

A lower access barrier will entail the Rada splitting into a greater number of parties and the appearance of parties with only a few members. But it will be a fair price for making the Rada more representative and for establishing a real people’s parliament.

Unfortunately, we can hardly expect support for the proposal from the parliament in force. Deputies (from major parties and blocs) want to raise the barrier to higher than 3 percent. Representatives of the Party of Regions and Bloc of Yulia Tymoshenko take great inspiration from the practice of the northern neighbor. In Russia, the 7 percent barrier was introduced to secure victory of the pro-presidential power. Thus, the only chance to save the situation now is to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

In Feb. 26, 1998, the Constitutional Court tried a case on this point. The dispute was over an article of the law that stated: “The lists of candidates to deputies from political parties and electoral blocs of parties which gained less than 4 percent of electors’ votes do not get the right to participate in the distribution of deputies’ mandates. In the opinion of some people’s deputies of Ukraine, this statement contradicted the constitutional principles of the electoral right.”

The Constitutional Court came to rather a paradoxical conclusion: “Deprivation of the lists of candidates to deputies from political parties and electoral blocs of parties which gained less than 4 percents of electors’ votes … is the question of political reasonability, and it is to be settled by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.”

Unfortunately, such a decision cannot be explained any other way than by “political reasonability.”

At the same time, Mykola Savenko, a judge with the Ukrainian Constitutional Court, dissented: “As a consequence of such kind of distribution, political parties and electoral blocs of parties have a greater number of deputies’ mandates than they actually gained from electors.” Such a system, Savenko wrote, “distorts results of voting and [the] expression of electors’ will”.

The only thing we can hope for is another trial in the Constitutional Court, which should be initiated before the next election. Probably new judges will make their decisions not according to the principle of “political reasonability,” as their predecessors of the President Leonid Kuchma era did, but according to the Constitution. In this case, we can really hope that in the future, an unconstitutionally high barrier will not deprive many Ukrainians of their right to elect their representatives.

Roman Marchenko is chairman of the arbitration court at the Ukrainian Law Firms Association, vice president of the Ukrainian Law Firms Association, and a senior partner of Ilyashev & Partners law firm. He can be reached at marchenko@attorneys.com.ua

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Poll: Parliament Six Pack - Party of Regions pick of the pack


Source: KyivPost

A recent poll showing the expected results of a fresh round of parliamentary Elections indicates that Party of Regions with 201 seats would win government with a coalition partner of their choosing. (Min required 225 seats)

Block Yulia Tymoshenko, Y-Front, Our Ukraine, the Communists Party and
Lytvyn plus one other can all make offers to sit on the cabinet table. With the outcome being a gamblers dream as uncertainty takes hold all players are in with a chance.

This could prove to be tempting for Yushchenko as Our Ukraine could form a long awaited alliance with Party of Regions but they will fall short of a constitutional two-thirds Majority unless they are joined by Yatseniuk's "Y-Front" team. A Constitutional majority could also be formed between PoR, BYuT and BVL coalition.


Based on the six parties listed this would translate into seats as following

Party
Vote %SeatsSeats %
Party of RegionsPoR32.720144.67
Block Yulia TymoshenkoBYuT14.28719.40
Yatseniuk Front for ChangeY-Front12.87917.49
Our UkraineOU5.4337.38
Communist Party of UkraineCPU4.3265.87
Block Volodymyr LytvynBVL3.8245.19
Sum
73.2450100


The published poll is missing details of 26.8% of undisclosed votes and which parties are below the 3% threshold.

When analysing poll results it is important to factor in the participation rate.

The participation rate is listed as ranging from 75% to 89%. This means that a party on 2.4% to 2.7% of the vote could also cross the 3% threshold quota .

Note: The graphic below published by Kyiv Post does not reflect the poll results.


Recent poll shows that Six Ukrainian parties, blocs may win early parliamentary election

Today, 16:05 | Interfax-Ukraine


Poll: six Ukrainian parties, blocs may win early parliamentary election Sixteen percent of the respondents said
they found it difficult to answer the
question, and 2.6% said they would vote
against all candidates.
Six parties and political blocs may pass the three percent threshold in the Verkhovna Rada elections, the Ukrainian Sociology Service said with the reference to a poll of 2,010 adults on July 4-14.

According to the service, 32.7% of the respondents said they would support the Party of Regions, 14.2% the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, 12.8% the Arseniy Yatseniuk Bloc, 5.4% the Our Ukraine Party, 4.3% the Communist Party, and 3.8% the Lytvyn Bloc.

Sixteen percent of the respondents said they found it difficult to answer the question, and 2.6% said they would vote against all candidates.

Forty-four percent of the respondents did not support the idea to dismiss the Verkhovna Rada and to hold early presidential elections. A total of 31.4% had the opposite opinion, and 24.5% were unable to answer the question.

A total of 32.6% of the respondents said they would take part in the possible early elections of the Verkhovna Rada, and 29.7% said they are likely to do that.

Meanwhile, 15.7% said they would rather not take part in the ballot, and 11.2% would not do that for sure.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yushchenko offers to resign to allow early presidential elections

Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, has made a tentative offer to resign in order to facilitate early Presidential elections. His support for holding early Presidential elections is conditional on Ukraine's parliament consenting to simultaneous elections

Yushchenko rejected a similar offer to hold simultaneous elections back in 2007 when Yushchenko forcibly dismissed Ukraine's Parliament causing seven months of political and civil unrest.

Yushchenko also previously rejected proposals to hold early Presidential elections, which were originally scheduled for October 25, by appealing to Ukraine's Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court upheld his appeal and elections where later rescheduled for January 17, 2010.

In order for early Presidential elections to be held Yushchenko would have to resign as President.

Yushchenko, who has less then 4% public support, reaffirmed that he will seek re-election knowing that he will not be re-elected to a second term of office.

The turn around offer made by Yushchenko has little chances of being accepted as there is no justification or legal requirement at this time for the holding of another round of Parliamentary elections.

On July 24 Yushchenko will be in his last six months of his five year term of office and as such losses Presidential authority to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament.

Whilst Yushchenko talks up the suggestion that there is a political crisis the fact is that the only political crisis is of Yushchenko's making and his desperate attempt to unseat Ukraine's Prime-minister who has announced her intention to nominate against him for Ukraine's Presidency.

Yushchenko's offer is conditional on unspecified changes to Ukraine's electoral system. If the changes require amendment to Ukraine's Constitution then he has left it too late to negotiate Constitutional reform. Any proposed changes to Ukraine's constitution would have to be considered and adopted by the Parliament prior to the next regular parliamentary session scheduled to start on September 1, 2009

What Yushchenko's offer does highlight is the hypocrisy of the president's position. Previously he rejected the notion of simultaneous elections and an early presidential elections. Now when he is faced with losing support and Ukraine facing a prolonged debilitating presidential campaign he indicates he is prepared to consider supporting an early ballot.

Early Presidential elections are in Ukraine's best interest, Ukraine can not afforded a prolonged six month Presidential campaign, it should not be predicated on the basis and demand for another round of Parliamentary elections. The time and opportunity for simultaneous elections come and gone and should have been accepted back in 2007.

Holding a fresh round of Parliamentary elections in the absence of Constitutional Change is of little to no value. Ukraine needs to first resolve its Constitutional position and then hold another round of Parliamentary elections. A proposal that Yulia Tymoshenko has rightly advocated.

The President is the next cab off the rank.

If Yushchenko is sincere and concerned about Ukraine and democracy he would offer his resignation and provide the opportunity for Ukraine to hold early Presidential elections unconditionally.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

One week remaining as Ukraine begins to hold it's breath

Will he or won't he?

The Parliament has moved into Summer recession and it's next regular session is scheduled to commence on September 1.

Any attempt by Yushchenko to dismiss the Parliament and force another round of parliamentary elections ahead of the Presidential election scheduled for January 17, 2010 would be counter productive.

Yushchenko's supporters claim that there are grounds for dismissing the Parliament is highly disputable.

On July 24 Victor Yushchenko will be in his last six months of his five year term of office.

With the passing of this date Yushchenko will lose authority under Article 90 of Ukraine's constitution to dismiss Ukraine's parliament. If he is to have any chance of success in forcing another round of parliamentary elections he will have to act this week or risk being ruled out of order by Ukraine's Constitutional Court.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Six months remaining in prolonged Presidential campaign

Today marks Six Months until Ukraine goes to the polls to elect a new head of state and an end to Viktor Yushchenko's reign of division. It also marks the countdown for the last week in which Yushchenko has the authority to dismiss Ukraine's Parliament.

Public opinion polls consistently indicate that Viktor Yanukovych, Yushchenko's rival in the 2004 Presidential elections, is set to win the next Presidential election which is scheduled for January 17, 2010.

The most recent public opinion poll conducted by the Social and Political Psychology Institute of the Academy of Psychological Sciences of Ukraine (Published by The National News Agency of Ukraine) shows that of the three most likely contenders Yanukovych (Party of Regions)is set to win in all outcomes. Incumbent President, Victor Yushchenko (Our Ukraine), with only 4% of the vote is in an unwinnable position.

In spite his low rating Yushchenko continues to insist on running for a second term of office. Yushchenko's nomination taking votes away from other candidates, Arseny Yatseniuk (Y-Front for change) who is placed third six percentage points behind Ukraine's Prime-Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT)

The poll's Two Candidate Preferred (TCP) results are questionable as it shows no transfer of votes from Yulia Tymoshenko supporters to Party of Regions in a head to head between Yanukovych and Yatsenyuk.

Under Ukraine's two round Presidential voting system the two highest polling candidates face off in a second round ballot to determine who will win the Presidential election.

At a direct cost of 100 Million dollars per round, Ukraine's Presidential campaign is expected to cost over 500 million dollars including campaign costs of the various parties. This does not include the indirect costs to Ukraine's economy associated with a prolonged six month Presidential campaign.

Candidate/TCP1st RoundYanukovych %Tymoshenko %Yatsenyuk %
Viktor Yanukovych (PoR)26.743.3 (55.8%)34.3 (44.2%)
Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT)17.6
35.8 (53.1%)31.6 (46.9%)
Arseniy Yatseniuk (Y-Front)11.943.3 (58.5%)
30.7 (41.5%)
Petro Symonenko (CPU)5.3
Volodymyr Lytvyn (BL)4.3
Viktor Yushchenko (OU)4.0
Other/No-Votes30.2



Tymoshenko 9% behind Yanukovych in presidential race

KYIV, July 16 /UKRINFORM/. Oppositional Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych remains the front-runner of the presidential race, with a support of 26.7%, followed by Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko with 17.6%, and Arseniy Yatseniuk with 11.9%.

These are the results of the public opinion poll conducted by the Social and Political Psychology Institute of the Academy of Psychological Sciences of Ukraine.

The poll demonstrated that 71.9% of the pollees are ready in some or other measure to go to the presidential polls. If the election was held when the poll was conducted, the votes would be distributed as follows: 26.7% for Yanukovych, 17.6% for Tymoshenko, 11.9% for Yatseniuk, 5.3% for Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko, 4.3% for Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, and 4% for the incumbent president, Viktor Yushchenko.

Experts say in the course of the past six months, the electorates of all aspirants for the presidency were rather stable. Just the electorate of Yatseniuk had a certain growth tendency.

If Yanukovych and Tymoshenko compete in the run-off, the Regions' leader would have 43.3% of the votes, and the Prime Minister 34.3%. If Tymoshenko and Yatseniuk get to the run-off, the head of government would have 35.8% of the votes, and Yatseniuk 31.6%. If those are Yanukovych and Yatseniuk, they would have 43.3% and 30.7% of the votes, respectively.

2,010 respondents above 18 were polled all across the country June 26 through July 3, 2009.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Poll: Yanukovych and Tymoshenko still head presidential election rating

Yushchenko, with less then 2% support, still on tack to lose office
Source: Kyivpost

Head of the Regions Party Viktor Yanukovych and Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko still top the presidential election ratings according to a recent poll conducted by the Kyiv XXI Century Center for Political and Economic Studies.

Under Ukraine's two round Presidential voting system the two highest polling candidates face off together in a second round of voting. The poll does not indicate which of the two highest candidates (Yanukovych or Tymoshenko) would win the second round ballot.

The poll was conducted on July 8-10 this year. Some 2,250 people over 18 were surveyed. The poll's average margin of error is 2.2%.

According to the poll, if the election had been held on Sunday this week, respondents would have voted for:

Yanukovych (PoR)
20.5%
Tymoshenko (BYuT) 17.2%
Arseniy Yatseniuk`(Y-Front for change) 4.8%
Petro Symonenko (CPU) 2.5%,
Volodymyr Lytvyn (
Parliamentary Speaker) 1.8%
Oleh Tiahnybok (
Leader of the Svoboda Public Organization) 1.4%.
Viktor Yuschenko (Our Ukraine -
Ukrainian President) 1.6%.

According to the poll, some 24.8% are ready to vote against all the candidates, some 20.6% found it hard to give a definite answer.

The survey also showed that if the election is held this Sunday, some 37.1% would definitely participate in them, 14.3% would rather participate, some 17.8% would rather not participate in them, some 14.5% were sure they won't participate and 16.3% could not give a definite answer.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Averting a Post-Orange Disaster - Andreas Umland

"As Ukraine's economic, social and political crisis sharpens, more and more Ukrainians may question the wisdom of conducting a costly presidential election when the Ukrainian state is almost bankrupt--if not on the brink of collapse."



Constitutional Reforms and Political Stability in Ukraine by Dr. Andreas Umland


Source: Harvard International Review

June, 2009

After several years of impressive economic growth and encouraging political change, Ukraine has recently entered troubled waters. The democracies west of Ukraine are institutionally consolidated and internationally embedded enough to circumscribe the political repercussions of their so far relatively mild economic contractions. While being hit almost as hard as Ukraine by the world financial crisis, Russia has managed to build considerable financial reserves thanks to the enormous cash inflow into her state budget during the years of rocketing energy prices, allowing her to soften the social repercussions of the economic downturn.

Ukraine, in contrast, has neither a consolidated political system nor significant financial reserves. During the first quarter of 2009, the Ukrainian economy seems to have contracted between 20-23 percent, and its industrial production might have fallen as much as 30 percent. Given the limited capacities of the Ukrainian government to deal with the social aftermath of these developments, the effects of the crisis on Ukrainian domestic politics and foreign relations are unpredictable. To be sure, Ukrainians have shown considerable maturity in earlier periods of political crisis, such as during the country's last contested presidential elections. It is often ignored, however, that 2004 was not only the moment of the Orange Revolution, but also a year of steep economic growth of almost 10 percent. In contrast, Ukraine's economy today is experiencing a depression that rivals the 1992-1994 plunge in industrial production.

As if this were not challenging enough, Ukraine is facing an increasingly assertive Russia on which it is economically dependent. Until recently, Ukraine's energy reliance on its Eastern neighbour was partly neutralized by Russia's heavy dependence on the Ukrainian gas pipeline system which delivers Russian gas to the European Union (EU) and on the Kremlin's stated interest in preserving the Sevastopol naval base for Russia's Black Sea fleet. Neither of these two balancing mechanisms is fully functional today. Out of parochial interests, the EU has been pressuring Ukraine to "internationalize" energy transportation. While understandable from a Central and West European view, “internationalization” is weakening Ukrainian control of perhaps the most important instrument of securing Ukrainian independence from Russia. Out of his familiar political myopia, President Viktor Yushchenko has prematurely declared that Ukraine, in any case, intends to close Sevastopol for the Russian fleet when the current contract for the lease of the Crimean port expires in 2017. Whereas earlier, the Russian and Ukrainian governments had something to negotiate about, Kiev’s diplomatic leverage has diminished today. The Kremlin, aware of Ukraine's new weakness on a daily basis, threatens via mass media to cut gas deliveries if Ukraine does not pay in time for them.

Moreover, in 2008, the Moscow leadership demonstrated in Georgia – not the least to Kiev - that it is prepared to use military force to defend vital interests in her "near abroad." Many Russian politicians have let it be known, in public, that the Crimea’s majority Russian ethnic makeup places the peninsula within Moscow's natural sphere of influence. Some even see Crimea as a part of Russia's historic territory.

Worse, Ukraine's political system prescribes new presidential elections in January 2010, when a new standoff between Ukraine and Russia concerning gas deliveries and payments is likely to occur. In fact, given the Ukrainian state's current financial difficulties, Russia may regard it politically opportune as well as domestically and internationally justifiable to cut gas deliveries to Ukraine already before January 2010. Polling data shows that anti-Ukrainian sentiment is growing in Russia’s population as a result of the daily xenophobic brainwashing by the Kremlin-directed propaganda machine. As a hard line against Kiev becomes increasingly popular among ordinary Russians, the Moscow leadership may conclude that cutting gas deliveries to Ukraine would kill two birds with one stone: it would divert attention from its own omissions in reforming Russia's post-Soviet state and economy, and it would cause serious trouble for Kiev's Orange government, in domestic affairs and/or foreign relations.

In the case of new gas delivery cuts, the government of Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will face an awkward choice. If it chooses to stomach the cuts, it will alienate the Ukrainian population when further industrial plants come to a standstill and Ukrainians’ flats become cold. If it chooses to siphon gas from the Ukrainian pipelines that deliver gas from Russia to the European Union, Ukraine's Orange cabinet will alienate its EU partners and violate international law.

"Not only is the current Ukrainian dual power system deficient, but semi-presidential systems, at least in transition countries, are generally a bad choice"

As Ukraine's economic, social and political crisis sharpens, more and more Ukrainians may question the wisdom of conducting a costly presidential election when the Ukrainian state is almost bankrupt – if not on the brink of collapse. After all, Ukraine does have a legitimate legislature as well as a more or less operational government. In the increasingly difficult situation that Ukraine awaits during the coming months, the election of a second ruler appears as luxury. Moreover, by participation in these elections, Ukrainians would legitimize the semi-presidential system that is obviously unsuitable for Ukraine – as has been manifestly demonstrated by the agonizing intra-executive conflicts, during the last years.

Not only is the current Ukrainian dual power system deficient, but semi-presidential systems, at least in transition countries, are generally a bad choice, if one believes the results of comparative research into this political system. For instance, in 2008, the Irish government professor Robert Elgie and American political researcher Sophia Moestrup published the collected volume Semi-Presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe. This book contains research papers by leading specialists on post-Soviet institutional design and performance in Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine. The study confirms previous scholarly work that has indicated concerns about the political system that Ukraine inherited when it acquired independence in 1991. Elgie’s and Moestrup’s paper collection shows once more that the impact of semi-presidentialism on the transition to and consolidation of, democracy is negative or at least unhelpful. In the case of Central and Eastern Europe, this concerns both highly presidentialized semi-presidentialism, like Ukraine until 2005, and balanced presidential-prime ministerial semi-presidentialism, like Ukraine has had since 2006. The scholars conclude that, "if democracy is fragile, then semi-presidentialism of any form is probably best avoided."

With presidential elections scheduled for January 17, 2010, Ukraine is about to reproduce a political system that will be detrimental to its interests, especially considering the possibly grave domestic repercussions of the world financial crisis and Moscow's continuously growing imperial appetite. In the unlikely best-case scenario that the latter issues do not become salient, Ukraine will still be losing if it decides to go ahead with the 2010 presidential elections.

"Hard times are awaiting Europe's youngest and largest democracy, and one can only hope that the encouraging sanity and moderation that Kiev's elites have shown before will also prevail in the current situation."

Recent rumours in Kiev are indicating that at least a part of the Ukrainian political elite seems to be interested in serious institutional reform. From late May to early June 2009, secret negotiations were conducted between Tymoshenko's Bloc and Viktor Yanukovych's opposition Party of Regions about the formation of a coalition to change the constitution, create a parliamentary republic, and cancel next year's presidential elections. The idea was to have Ukraine’s parliament, instead of the people, elect the President. This would preserve the current dual executive and power-sharing arrangement while depriving the President of a direct popular mandate. Although Ukraine would still be ruled by both a President and Prime-Minister, the two leaders would be dependent on parliament and on each other; they would be less inclined to enter into the agonizing conflicts prevalent throughout the last few years. While these changes would not have solved Ukraine's two major headaches – payment for gas deliveries and Kremlin hostility – they would have calmed down political bickering in Kiev and stabilized the Ukrainian government. The modification was obviously designed to provide Yanukovich with an important office in the executive. It would also have avoided the dirty electoral campaigning that has already started and the costly two-round voting process scheduled for early 2010. However, Yanukovich decided to leave the negotiation table. As of today, the presidential elections will thus continue as prescribed under the current Constitution.

Hard times are awaiting Europe's youngest and largest democracy, and one can only hope that the encouraging sanity and moderation that Kiev's elites have shown before will also prevail in the current situation. Ideally, Yanukovich and Tymoshenko will return to the negotiation table and reconsider the issue of the upcoming elections. Preserving the current semi-presidential system serves neither the short-term nor the long-term interests of Ukraine. Switching to a parliamentary republic would free Kiev’s political elite to focus its attention on numerous other pressing problems. In the coming months, Kiev’s political elite will need to concentrate on far more important issues than electoral campaigning.

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