Friday, June 29, 2007

Keep Politics Out of Politics

Tymoshenko proposed two-constitutions drafted by experts

If you think the European Union is having a difficult time in adopting a unified position on the establishment of a constitution to govern the Europe . The troubles facing the EU is nothing compared to the division that exist within Ukraine.

The only point of agreement is that the constitution needs change.

The current political crisis, brought about by the President, Viktor Yushchenko's dismissal of Ukraine's democratically elected parliament, has highlighted a number of issues that need to be addressed.

Parliamentary Democracy versus Presidential Dictatorship

There are essentially two main variants on the table, each with a multitude of variations within each variation.

Viktor Yushchenko and the Our Ukraine group are advocating a return to a system of Presidential rule by decree where the power and authority of government is invested in the hands of the president, who would have the right to determine who should be prime-minister and hold ministerial positions with the parliament being sidelined to as a legislative rubber stamp. System of government should not be decided on the basis of any one individual or political party. Clearly the president and his political party have a vested interest in pursuing a presidential model as opposed to supporting a parliamentary democracy.

The Governing Coalition spearheaded by Dr Olexandr Moroz has proposed that Ukraine become a full parliamentary democracy in line with other European States. The proposal for Ukraine to become a full preliminary model is backed up by recommendations outlined in a recent PACE review arsing form the president's political crisis.

One of the multitude of sub-variants is the proposal to create a bicameral (two house) parliamentary system.

Yulia Tymoshenko, defacto opposition coalition leader, in the mean time has a foot in each camp. Yulia Tymoshenko rightly has opposed the need for a bicameral parliament and has called for a panel of experts to draft two draft version of a constitution which in trunk will be put to the people of Ukraine who will decide in a referendum which constitution to adopt. As if the people of Ukraine will be capable in deciding the complicated issues of a the details of a draft constitution let alone the of each system.

Clearly Ukraine needs to decide first and foremost Presidential or Parliamentary.

The outcome of this simple question begins to decide a host of other issues that need to be considered in depth before any agreement could be reached on the details of a constitutional framework.

Constitutional reform is not that easy to obtain agreement, as we have seen with the formation of the European Union Constitution. A referendum will only be successful if there is broad agreement and compromise. If the political spectrum is divided then the odds are against any meaningful reform being adopted. Face with a complex difficult decision the people will always vote no before yes. historically this has been the case world wide.

If Ukraine is to adopt meaningful reform any proposal needs broad consensus.

To add to the complexity of constitutional reform Yulia Tymoshcneko has proposed that politicians be left out of the Constitutional reform process. Pandering to a popular misconception keep politics out of politics. Yulia Tymoshenko's proposal is beyond reality or belief binging into question her sincerity or level of serious responsibility.

Politicians and experts must work together to achieve a workable and acceptable document.

Yes by all means have the debate Parliamentary Democracy versus Presidential Dictatorship but do so out of sequence of the political parliamentary electoral process and do so before finalising a proposed draft of a new constitution.

The ideal time to hold a ballot on the question of Presidential or Parliament would be next year, either six prior to presidential election or held back and held in conjunction with the 2009 presidential election.

Ukraine must look to Europe, first and foremost, in helping to determine and resolve the questions of constitutional reform and not to the United States or Russia.

As it stands Ukraine looks set to having a multitude of versions and a multitude of conflicting visions for Ukraine's democratic governance. A sure fire recipe for disaster and ongoing failure.


Provocative Yet Insightful Hypothesis

LEvko of ForiegnNotes has translated the following text from an article by Sonya Koshkina (In Ukrainain). Sonya in her opinion piece raises a provocative hypothesis. A little out of date but worthy of consideration.

Extract from Foriegn notes

The formation of a democratic mega-bloc has fizzled out, as could have been predicted, in many respects because Yushchenko himself has personally taken over manual control of the process. He has done this in order to simultaneously neutralize both Lutsenko and Tymoshenko - two of his main opponents in the 2009 presidential elections. Once this is accomplished, then he can tackle Yanukovych.

Current NU leader Vyacheslav Kirilenko is not a crowd-pulling political heavyweight so Yushchenko has bowed to former socialists Yuriy Lutsenko's demands and promised many of his National self-defence people top jobs in any NU government, in exchange for his joining forces with NU. In this way the popular Lutsenko may be kept in check. The smaller right-wing parties in NU will probably be dumped.

However, Lutsenko's appearance in the orange bloc reduces the chances of a broad coalition being formed, and could even threaten the elections themselves, according to some Pot party workers.

Sonya Koshkina claims that Viktor Yanukovych agreed to early elections only because the president promised him that NU and "Regionally" would form ruling coalition after the elections. They also secretly mutually agreed to 'knobble' Tymoshenko.

About a week before Ivan Plyushch's appointment as National Security and Defence Council secretary he contacted that old political fixer, the Donetskiyite Yefim Zvagelsky. These two senior statesmen outlined a plan between themselves to overcome the crisis by forming a broad coalition, and this meant combined action against Tymoshenko. They then met head of the press secretariat Viktor Baloha, and further plotting took place - the president being well aware of what was going on. Subsequently Rinat Akhmetov and Raisa Bahatyrova met Yushchenko, who later praised Akhmetov for his assistance in solving the political crisis.

Mutual dislike of Tymoshenko is the only factor that Yu and Ya share - both have presidential ambitions, so both need to remove Tymoshenko from their path. According to Koshkina, they are both are planning a dirty election campaign, which could even involve the SBU security services, to discredit Tymoshenko.

The Oboz article ends with a link to an audio file recording of an eavesdropped telephone conversation, allegedly between Yushchenko and Tymoshenko, in which he bawls her out for an interview she supposed to have given to the BBC in which she is critical of him. Her responses are of bewilderment. [This may well have been 'placed' in the media by Tymoshenko's camp.]

[LEvko concluding comments]

O.K, this could be wild speculation, but politics in Ukraine is a rough trade..and the elections are a long way off..


Marriage of Convenience

Or Strategic Mistake

The long and at times agonising negotiations over the formation of a political alliance between Our Ukraine and the breakaway dissident People's Self-Defence party has finally been signed. (Link: Ukrayinska Pravda). The details of the agreement have not yet been published.

The formation of the alliance will put pressure on Yulia Tymoshenko as the new political bloc could very well secure the most votes at the election and as such will decide who will become prime-minister. Previous polls have shown Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc and a possible Our Ukraine alliance neck and neck for public support. Each with around 16-19% of the vote.

The established alliance may deliver much needed "public relations" benefits as Our Ukraine tries to bolster its public appeal and win back public trust.

The down side is that according to recent polls the People's Self-defence group would receive more then 3% of the vote and as such would have had a reasonable chance of being elected to the parliament in its own right, giving it much more freedom of movement and control over decision making. The upside is that its leaders are guaranteed to be elected in an expanded alliance.

The other possible downside is that whilst a number of people would have been prepared to support and vote for the People's Self-Defence Party as a stand alone party they may not continue to attract the same support as a junior partner in what is seen as a marriage of convenience. On the numbers game People's self-defence would have been better off remaining unencumbered as a stand alone party.

It is early days in the campaign and whilst there will be an expected "honey moon period" as the campaign begins to take form and the issues facing Ukraine are discussed things could go anyway. With around 15% of Ukrainians uncommitted the outcome is still an unknown quantity.

Update (3:32 June 29)

See LEvko's take on Foreign Notes


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Polls of Deception. One poll bucks the trend shows inconsistencies in data

There was one poll published on Union news site ,that was not well sourced, that claimed five parties would obtain 3% or more of the vote and enter into parliament. This poll goes against the trend and all other qualitative polls in that it shows a slender win to the opposition forces.

Poll Results
Party of Regions (PoR) 27.4%
Bloc Yulia Tymoshchenko (BYuT) 18.3%
Our Ukraine (OU) * 11.0%
Communist party of Ukraine (CPU) 4.1%
People's Self-Defence (PSD) * 4.5%
Socialist Party of Ukraine (SPU) 2.9%
Natalie Vitrenko Bloc (NVB) 2.8%
Lytvyn Blok (LB) 2.7%

Progressive Poll Graph - Percentage of Vote

Progressive Poll Graph - Translated into Parliamentary Seats

There are a number of inconsistencies in the UNIAN poll analysis.

The poll has indicated support for the Lytvyn Party at 2.7% yet last week Lytvyn had announced that he would not be standing for election.

The poll also shows The Socialist Party of Ukraine on 2.9% and Natalia Vitrenko block on 2.8%. The error of margin of most polls is around 2% and errors are more prevalent at the bottom end of the poll. Should either the SPU and/or NVB exceed the 3% threshold then the outcome would most certainly change. A narrow win would not serve well for any government. What Ukraine needs more then anything is political stability and a marginal "opposition" government would not deliver a good outcome.

The Threshold Factor

Another factor that needs to be taken into consideration is that the 3% threshold is calculated on the number of votes cast and not the number of potential voters. This could very well see threshold margin shift a 0.2-3 percentage points and as such according to the poll data published by UNIAN 6 to 7 parties could be represented in the next Ukrainian parliament. (Sadly polls do not indicate the participation rate or clarify if the data is percentage of voter as opposed to opposed to actual voters. The graph below demonstrates the possible shift in the result)

Progressive Poll Graph - Based on the poll being percentage of eligible voters as opposed to actual voters

From an analytical point of view this question only comes into play when you have a party/group who is within 0.3-4 percentage points of the three percent quota threshold but it is significant. Some electoral systems base their threshold on a percentage of the formal vote (Votes that indicate support for a party as opposed to a blank vote) In Ukraine's case the threshold percentage also includes informal votes in its calculation. But if a high percentage of eligible voters do not vote (the non-participation rate) the percentage ratio shifts.

I also expect that there will be intense battle to try and persuade some of the minor parties to join forces in an attempt to cross the artificial 3% threshold barrier. Party Viche (I personally like their policies and their leader comes across as informative and rational). Party Viche accounts for just under one percent of the vote which could prove valuable to other parties bordering on the threshold or who want to increase their percentage and representation.

The polls wont give any real indication of the fold up until the party lists are finalised.

There is three months to go until the election and it is said that two weeks is a long time in politics let alone three months. Personally I believe there will be six parties entering the next Parliament. I have not written the Socialist party of just yet but it will be a close battle. Natalia Vitrenko position is unknown, at this stage, whether an alliance can be formed with her anyone's guess (God help anyone who manages to form such an alliance)

What is interesting the most about current lot of polls is that there has been little shift in the fortunes of the president's party Our Ukraine. One poll had Our Ukraine out polling Yulia Tymoshenko but they were reliant on the formation of a broad coalition with the dissident breakaway People self-defence group. It is expected that they will secure sufficient percentage of votes to stand alone and unencumbered. If they do not form an alliance with Our Ukraine then Yulia will be in a better place, should the opposition win government to become prime-minister. That is unless Our Ukraine buddy up with party of regions to cut the Communists out of the game, which is not beyond consideration as foreign notes predicts.


The Trust Factor: Who's Trusted and Who's Not?

Ukranews has published an interesting poll showing who is trusted and who is not in Ukrainian Politics.

Once again Ukraine's Prime-minister, Viktor Yanukovych, (45%/51%) is ahead the pack with Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko, (36/60%) trailing behind in the polls.

Populist Opposition Leader Yulia Tymoshenko (35%/62%) is just behind Yushchenko followed by Mykola Azarov (33%/41%) and then Olenandr Moroz (33%/61%)

Not one politician exceeded the 50% majority (Which is not surprising, very few politicians enjoy a 50% or more trust rating - Russia's President, Putin who is rated 55% to 60% would have to be an exception rather then the rule)

Graph showing precentage of Trust and Distrust

What is also interesting to look at is the spreed between trust and distrust. The greater the spreed the more negative the perception. With a spreed of 44%, Opposition Bloc spokesperson, Natalia Vitrenko (23%/67%) is rated worst then any other politician followed by Yuri Yekhanurov (25%/60%); Viktor Baloha, (17%/46%) Our Ukraine and leader of the dissident breakaway party People's Self-defence, Yuri Lutsenko (32%/60%).

Graph showing spreed between Trust and Distrust


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Poll Shows Viktor Yushchenko Would Lose Ballot If Presidential Elections Held Last Week

Analysis of a recent poll undertaken by the TRN Ukraine "Omnibus" published by LexisNexis News indicates that Ukraine's President, Viktor Yushchenko would lose the presidential ballot if elections were held last week.

Ukraine's Prime-minister, Viktor Yanukovych, received the highest vote on 29.8%, Yulia Tymoshenko on 15.4% and Yushchenko on 11.6%. With the expected fold up in preparation for a "Second round" ballot Viktor Yushchenko would lose to Yulia Tymoshenko.

The results of the poll provide another example and reason for urgent electoral reform to abolish the two-round presidential ballot system . With the cost of each ballot estimated to be around 100 Million dollars the two-round system can not be justified given that there are more democratic and effective ways of conducting the election.

Ukraine must consider the adoption of a single preferential voting election. One ballot with voters casting a numerical vote in order of preference (1, 2 3) for the candidates of their choice.

Should no one candidate secure 50% or more votes, candidates with the lowest number of votes would be excluded from the count and ballot papers re-distributed to the next available continuing candidate. This process is repeated until one candidate has received 50% or more votes. One ballot - One vote, Hundreds of millions of dollars saved.


Ruzumov Centre Poll - Similar Results

The Ruzumov Center has just released its latest poll which shows similar results to all other polls. Had an election been held last weekend based on the polling survey Party of Regions in coalition with the communist party would have secured an absolute majority of parliamentary seats. Speculation is running think on the ground that Our Ukraine will when faced with reality of the return of the Yanukovych Government will breakaway from Yulia Tymoshemko and try and from an alliance with party of regions to freeze out any influence from the communist party.

What is interesting in this poll is that it shows a growth in support for both the dissident break-away Socialist Party Peoples-self defence and the Communist Party of Ukraine. (Up 1.5% points).

Poll Results

Party of Regions (PoR)37.00%-46.60%210
Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko (BYuT)21.50%-27.10%122
Our Ukraine (OU)10.30%-13.00%58
People's Self-Defence (PSD)5.50%-6.90%31
Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU)5.10%-6.50%29

Progressive Poll Results Graph


Monday, June 25, 2007

Opinion Poll Shows Party of Regions Maintaining Overall Support

The recent poll undertaken by Omnibus published by UNIAN 25, June 2007 shows that the Government is maintaining its support. Based on the recent polls the Party of Regions is expected to increase their representation to 221 falling just short of the 225/226 required to secure a majority in their own right. All other parties have registered a decline in voter support with the president's party our Ukraine registering only 8%. It is unknown if the poll had taken into consideration the redistribution of 1.2% of voters who had indicated they would support the Lytvyn party prior to Lytvyns announcement that he would not be seeking to contest the September election.

Poll Results
Party of regions (PoR) on 31.7%
Yulia Tymoshcneko's Bloc (BYuT) on 17.8%
Our Ukraine (OU) on 8.3%
People's Self-Defence Party (PSD)on 3.5%
Communist Party of Ukraine (CPU) on 3.3%

The Socialist Party (SPU) on 1.4% have suffered the highest fall in terms of percentage of their 2006 poll result with most of their vote going to break away dissident party - People's Self-Defence who are expected to form an alliance with Our Ukraine creating a new revised party coalition.

Parliamentary Seats
PollOmnibusUkrainian BarometerSofia Social StudiesFOM-UkraineKyiv International Sociology InstituteFOM-UkraineKiev-based International Institute of Sociology


Friday, June 22, 2007

Progressive Public Polling Data

19 April 2007 to the 15 June 2007

The table below records recent public opinion polling results since the start of the current political crisis.

The data below shows Our Ukraine and People's Self-Defence party as separate entries. If the two party's combine it is difficult to know at this stage  what percentage of the People's Self-Defence party will stay with the alliance.

Clearly the battle ground is focused on the various split within the socialist's movement. If the People's Self-Defence Party is added to the Our Ukraine Vote then Yulia Tymoshenko will once again be the bride's maid and not the bride.

The published polls are yet to redistribute the Lytvyn party bloc (1.2%) which recently announced it was not going to contest the September election.

Date 15/06/2007 29/05/2007 7/05/2007 24/04/2007 23/04/2007 19/04/2007
Poll Ukrainian Barometer Sofia Social Studies FOM-Ukraine Kyiv International Sociology Institute FOM-Ukraine Kiev-based International Institute of Sociology
PoR 34.0% 35.6% 30.0% 35.5% 29.1% 35.9%
BYuT 20.3% 16.8% 17.0% 19.6% 15.5% 20.9%
OU * 11.0% 9.0% 9.0% 12.9% 10.3% 11.6%
CPU 3.9% 4.6% 3.7% 4.2% 4.0% 3.4%
PSD * 4.8% 3.6% 3.9% 3.7% 2.1% 2.1%
NVB 2.7% 1.8% 0.8% 1.8% 1.5% 1.5%
LB 0.0% 1.7% 1.2% 1.7% 1.4% 1.4%
SPU 2.0% 2.8% 1.8% 1.2% 1.5% 1.5%
UP 0.0% 1.0% 1.2%
  78.7% 76.9% 67.4% 81.8% 65.3% 78.3%
>=3% 74.0% 69.6% 63.6% 75.9% 58.8% 71.8%
Percentage of the vote
PoR 43.2% 46.3% 44.5% 43.4% 44.5% 45.8%
BYuT 25.8% 21.8% 25.2% 24.0% 23.7% 26.7%
OU 14.0% 11.7% 13.4% 15.8% 15.8% 14.8%
CPU 5.0% 6.0% 5.5% 5.1% 6.0% 4.3%
PSD 6.1% 4.7% 5.8% 4.5% 3.2% 2.7%
NVB 3.4% 2.3% 1.2% 2.2% 2.3% 1.9%
LB 0.0% 2.2% 1.8% 2.1% 2.1% 1.8%
SPU 2.5% 3.6% 2.7% 1.5% 2.3% 1.9%
UP 0.0% 1.3% 0.0% 1.5% 0.0% 0.0%
  100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Percentage of the Seats
PoR 45.9% 51.1% 47.2% 46.8% 49.4% 50.0%
BYuT 27.4% 24.1% 26.7% 25.8% 26.4% 29.1%
OU 14.9% 12.9% 14.2% 17.0% 17.5% 16.2%
CPU 5.3% 6.6% 5.8% 5.5% 6.7% 4.7%
PSD 6.5% 5.2% 6.1% 4.9%
  100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
No of Seats
PoR 207 230 212 210 222 225
BYuT 123 109 120 116 119 131
OU 67 58 64 76 79 73
CPU 24 30 26 25 30 21
PSD 29 23 28 22 0 0
  450 450 450 450 450 450