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Correspondent 41

Delays Put Final Election Results in Doubt

by Paul Miazga

The early election results from across the country largely ring true with what I gathered from opinion polls and pre-election sentiment across the country: lower turnout due to election fatigue (turnout was just 60% nationwide vs. more than 80% in 2004 during the repeat run-off of the presidential election); higher sentiment for Yulia Tymoshenko in the west and near equal support for PM Viktor Yanukovych in the east, and problems with the vote count in many places but generally little evidence of vote fraud or election rigging. But then colleagues at work told me about odd results from both Odessa and Donetsk regions.

I do not dispute the overwhelming support for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in the east and in much of the south; he is considered “one of them” by the locals, who are very conservative and suspicious of anything to do with the West. I do not dispute that voters punished the Socialists in virtually all regions for being turncoats – at present they look to be left out of the parliament if current election results hold up.

What I do dispute is this: Remarkably, in areas that are heavily pro-Regions and where previous sentiment towards the Socialists was anemic at best, the website of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission reports that in some voting districts of Donetsk region, the Socialists have a two- or even three-fold lead over Regions. The districts in question are in Mariupol, southern Donetsk region, where Volodymyr Boyko heads the Mariupol Illicha steel works. Boyko is also the #3 man on the Socialist party’s pre-election candidate list and a very wealthy man. In a tight election race, the Socialists suddenly have overwhelming support. Pardon the pun, but I don’t buy it, and neither should any reasonable Ukrainian. This kind of sleazy vote-buying/voter intimidation in Ukraine stinks and it’s time it was wiped out once and for all.

From most points of view, including those of international election observer missions, these elections proved to be rather clean and free despite inaccuracies with voters lists, improperly conducted vote counts, official vote tabulation protocols not being posted for public viewing at many polling stations and the aforementioned vote buying. This election should serve as an opportunity for Ukrainians to demand a government that truly represents their interests, not those of big business.

For the interests of all Ukrainians, this new parliament needs to get a few things right: prosecute vote-rigging politicians. End the immunity from prosecution for politicians. Force politicians to give up all attachments to business while in power. Politics is a dirty enough business in Ukraine and the country disgustingly corrupt without its politicians needing to establish cynicism and a two-tiered caste system to the mix. President Yushchenko has pledged to investigate the vote fraud. I hope he does his job for once and represents all Ukrainians in setting this country straight and on a path towards true equality for all.

A quick look at the candidate lists for all the major parties – Regions, the Socialists, the Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, the Communists, Our Ukraine, the Volodymyr Litvyn Bloc – shows that the vast majority of the people on the list are residents not of Sumy, Ternopil, Donetsk, Kherson, Odessa or other regions, but of Kyiv. Politically speaking, Kyiv represents roughly 4 million inhabitants, a near 10% share of the total electorate; its physical size equals that of three or four regions. But as the seat of power, its share of spoils and luxuries far outweigh its physical size, serving the nation’s politicians but few of those that each party claims to represent. PM Yanukovych has said the election results give him “carte blanche” to begin forming the next government. That’s one way to interpret it. Another way would be to say that voters have a hard time making up their minds as to who’s the fox in sheep’s clothing. They’re tired of living like dogs in villages and towns with no hot water, streets impassable for lack of proper paving, no gas for heating or any money to feed themselves with while politicians in Kyiv continue to live like the pigs they are, feeding from a rich trough provided for them by a wealthy country with an impoverished electorate just finding its true voice.

“Some political cartoonists really know how to put Ukrainian elections in the proper light.” (http://cagle.msnbc.com)
“Some political cartoonists really know how to put Ukrainian elections in the proper light.” (http://cagle.msnbc.com)


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