Recently in Politics Category

After a lengthy layoff, today seems like a good time to return to discussions about Ukrainian politics. Ukraine's next presidential election is scheduled for January 17, 2010. If a second round ballot is necessary, it is expected to occur in February 2010.

According to an August 20, 2009 poll of 3,011 respondents by Kyiv-based Research & Branding Group, the Party of Regions' Viktor Yanukovych will become Ukraine's next president. Incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko has little chance of being a factor in the election. The poll results were:

  • Viktor Yanukovych - 26%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko - 16.5%
  • Arseniy Yatseniuk - 12.6%
  • Petro Simonenko - 4.5%
  • Vladimir Lytvyn - 4.2%
  • Viktor Yushchenko - 2%
  • Others - 7.3%
  • Against all candidates - 9.9%
The same poll provided the following results when asked who they would vote for if Tymoshenko and Yanukovych entered a second round of voting:

  • Viktor Yanukovych - 39.6%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko - 28%
  • Against all candidates - 19%
  • Will not vote - 6.8%
  • Difficult to answer - 6.6%
The poll also asked respondents which political party they would vote for in a parliamentary election.  The results were:

  • Party of Regions - 27.9%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc - 16%
  • Arseniy Yatseniuk Bloc - 9.2%
  • Vladimir Lytvyn Bloc - 4.8%
  • Communist Party - 4.4%
  • Others - 9.4%
  • Against all parties - 9.6%
  • Will not vote - 7.1%
  • Difficult to answer - 11.6%
President VIktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine party fell into the "Others" category. If these results hold through the election, expect some big political changes in Ukraine's government.

Technically, with the exception of less internal bickering, it may be difficult to see any changes in government, but it could very well be a throwback to the Leonid Kuchma era. Remember, Yanukovych was Kuchma's handpicked successor, but still lost to Yushchenko in the 2004 election, due in part to the Orange Revolution.

Don't expect a repeat of the Orange Revolution this time. Yushchenko and Tymoshenko completely blew their chance to effect real change in Ukraine. After all the nonsense of the last five years, all the people want now is a stable political situation and to reverse the course of the country's economic downturn.
Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada has scheduled the country's next presidential election for January 17, 2010. Parliament had previously scheduled the election for October 25, 2009, but President Viktor Yushchenko appealed to the Constitutional Court, which found the decision to be unconstitutional.

A recent presidential election poll conducted by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology revealed the following results:

  • Viktor Yanukovych (Party of Regions) - 34.7%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko (Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc) - 21.5%
  • Arseniy Yatseniuk (Change Front Citizens Initiative) - 17.6%
If a run-off election is required, it will most likely be held on February 7, 2010. The main question is, if a run-off is necessary, who would face off against Viktor Yanukovych? For a long time, the likely choice was Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. However, her inability to deal with Ukraine's economic crisis has significantly damaged her popularity. Meanwhile, former Rada Speaker Yatseniuk's popularity has accordingly increased.

It is unlikely that Yushchenko will gain re-election, with current popularity ratings in the low single digits and his Our Ukraine party recently withdrawing from Ukraine's ruling political coalition.

April 2009 Ukrainian Presidential Poll Results


A recent public opinion poll conducted by the Kyiv International Sociology Institute indicates Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych has increased his lead heading toward the next Ukrainian presidential election.

The poll results are:

  • Viktor Yanukovych (Party of Regions) - 25.6%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko (Prime Minister/BYuT) - 14.4%
  • Arseniy Yatsenyuk (former Parliament Speaker) - 13.6%
  • Petro Symonenko (Communist Party) - 3.3%
  • Volodymyr Lytvyn (current Parliament Speaker/Lytvyn Bloc) - 2.9%
  • Viktor Yushchenko (current President) - 2.4%
Yanukovych's lead has increased from 1.4% in a March poll by the Ramukov Center to 11.2% over current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. President Viktor Yushchenko remains at the bottom of the poll and continues to lose support.

This latest poll was conducted by interviewing 1,984 Ukrainian citizens between March 26 and April 17, 2009. The margin of error is 2.5%.
A recent Ukrainian public opinion poll conducted by the Raumkov Center indicates former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and current PM Yulia Tymoshenko have the best chance of winning Ukraine’s next presidential election.

The poll results are:

  • Viktor Yanukovych (leader of Party of Regions) - 17.1%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko (current Prime Minister) - 15.7%
  • Arseniy Yatseniuk (former Parliament Speaker) - 11.8%
  • Volodymyr Lytvyn (current Parliament Speaker) - 5.2%
  • Petro Symonenko (leader of Communist Party) - 4.2%
  • Viktor Yushchenko (current President) - 3.5%
The poll was conducted in 129 locations and included 2,012 respondents. The margin of error does not exceed 2.3%.

The results are really not much of a surprise. If anything, this could be a very interesting election
Arseniy YatseniukArseniy Yatseniuk, a 34-year old Ukrainian politician, appears ready to become a candidate in Ukraine’s 2010 presidential election. Yatseniuk, who claims to have no allies amongst the current major politicians, has created a new political party called Change Front Citizens Initiative. According to a recent public opinion poll, a Yatseniuk-led political party would gain more than 3% of the vote, thus gaining seats in Parliament.

The following is a list of Yatseniuk’s past experience:

  • 2001-2003: Economic Minister - Crimea
  • 2003-2004: First Vice President - Ukraine’s Central Bank
  • 2004-2005: Acting Head of Ukraine’s Central Bank
  • 2005: Vice Governor of Odessa Oblast (under Socialist Vasyl Tsushko)
  • 2005-2006: Economic Minister - Ukraine
  • 2006: Deputy Head of President Viktor Yushchenko’s Administration
  • 2007: Foreign Minister - Ukraine
  • 2007-2008: Speaker of Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s Parliament)
Webster Brooks has posted an interesting article in the Brooks Foreign Policy Review about the possibilities of a Yatseniuk presidency - “Can Arseniy Yatsenyuk Save Ukraine from Itself.” The article compares Yatseniuk to Barak Obama’s quick rise in the U.S. If you are interested in Ukrainian politics, this article is definitely a worthwhile read.

Photo: NATO

On December 30, 2008 Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed into law a constitutional amendment extending presidential terms from four to six years.

This law has increased speculation that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will return as President after the next election. As President, Putin said he would prefer a longer term, but felt it was unethical to change the constitution while in office. Medvedev, perceived by many as Putin’s puppet, proposed the constitutional change six months after taking office.

The bill was rushed through the State Duma, much quicker than most laws. Officials have indicated the extension will not apply to Medvedev’s current term in office, raising further questions about the bill’s quick move through the Duma.

Apparently an anonymous Kremlin advisor has been quoted as saying the reform is intended to return Putin to the presidency as early as 2009. It has been suggested that Medvedev would enact the amendment and several unpopular social reforms. He would then resign and call a pre-term election in 2009. If Putin returns to power for two more terms, he would govern until 2021, allowing him to fulfill the Putin Plan for the social and economic development of Russia.

Early Ukraine Presidential Poll - December 2008


According to a social survey titled “Crisis 2008: Ukrainian politics in the mirror of public opinion,” Party of Regions leader Viktor Yanukovych and current Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko would both reach the second round of a presidential election, if it was held now. Current President Viktor Yushchenko would not make it to a second round.

The poll of 2,004 respondents was conducted across the country, including Kyiv, Crimea and Sevastopol beteween December 2 and 11.

The report, presented by the Sophia Center of Social Studies found the following for a first round presidential election:

  • Viktor Yanukovych - 20.9%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko - 17.7%
  • Viktor Yushchenko - 4.6%
The following represents public opinion for a second round election:

  • Viktor Yanukovych - 31.7%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko - 27.5%
The same poll also posted approximate vote totals for a new parliamentary election:

  • Party of Regions - 19.9%
  • Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc - 18.3%
  • Communist Party - 6.7%
  • Lytvyn Bloc - 5.7%
  • Our Ukraine People’s Self Defense Bloc - 3.8%
  • Progressive Socialist Party 2.2%
The survey margin of error was 2.2%. It is interesting to note that after a second round election, neither presidential candidate reaches the required 50% threshold. However, this is only a poll, and an early one at that, so it is difficult to predict what will really happen.

In the parliamentary poll, the Progressive Socialist Party has a chance to make the 3% threshold for seats in the Verkhovna Rada. Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine People’s Self Defense Bloc looks to secure a few seats, which is better than summer polls that indicated the group would not reach the 3% threshold.

To me, the most fascinating observation is that Tymoshenko seems to have lost some of her popularity. In previous polls, she easily led all potential candidates and now she is a solid second.

Photos: Yulia Tymoshenko - © Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc
             Viktor Yanukovych - © Viktor Yanukovych Personal Information Server

New Parliamentary Coalition for Ukraine


Surprise, Surprise! A new coalition agreement has been signed between:

  • President Viktor Yushchenko’s Our Ukraine People’s Self Defense Bloc
  • Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Bloc
  • New parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn’s Bloc
The new coalition claims to have 248 seats in the 450-member Verkhovna Rada, thus breaking the country’s 3-month parliamentary deadlock. However, there are reports that approximately 30 of Yushchenko’s deputies oppose the alliance, including top lieutenant Vyacheslav Kirilenko, who resigned as faction chief. A ruling coalition can only exist when it has at least a majority 226 votes.

Even if the new coalition has a parliamentary majority, don’t expect much to change. All the players remain the same, except for the inclusion of Lytvyn. At least this should be the end of discussions for the new parliamentary election Yushchenko called for, but canceled due to lack of funding.

Probably the only reason this happened is that Ukraine has been hit extremely hard by the world financial crisis. Yushchenko believes the country’s economy could contract by 7-10% in the first quarter of 2009. That would come on top of this year’s loss of revenue from declining steel prices (exports) and falling GDP (14.4% in November as compared to November 2007). Ukraine is also in another battle with Russia over gas prices.

Ukraine Election Delayed Until 2009


Last week, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko indicated that the snap election scheduled for December 14 will be delayed until 2009. Yushchenko said it would not be reasonable to hold elections during the holiday season.

That may be his public line, but the real reason for delay is Yushchenko’s inability to get the government to approve funds to hold the election. Political Analyst Volodomyr Fesenko said that Yushchenko is waiting until the country’s deepening financial crisis chips away at Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s popularity and influence.

If this is true, it is the latest move by Yushchenko as he tries to position himself for a run at a second term of President.

Yushchenko Postpones Election Until December 14


Due to a severe economic downturn, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchennko postponed the upcoming pre-term parliamentary election by one week, to December 14.

Yushchenko issued a decree to allow the now dissolved Parliament to work for several days on legislation to aid the country’s economy, which has been hit hard by the world financial crisis. The decree also set up a 1 billion hryvnia fund ($200 million) to help Ukraine’s banking sector.

The election delay is most likely due to Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s attempts to block preparations for the vote. The original December 7 date cannot be met due to appeals filed by Tymoshenko in court.