Saturday, September 29, 2007

The outcome of Sunday's poll - Party of Regions fortune will depend on the performance of minor parties

It is minor parties that will determine the outcome of the poll and who will form government if the new parliament is able to function.

Without the success of minor parties, vsuch as Lytyn, Communist Patry of Ukraine and the Socialists Party of Ukraine all who are supportive of the government then Party of Regions chances of retaining office are limited to legal challenges. Given the extent of interference in the legal process by Ukraine's president "democratic rule of law" in Ukraine has been pushed aside, with suggestions that the Ukraine's President will once again sooner after the poll act to prevent the courts from considering any challenge.

Ukraine's voting system and the 3% threshold barrier could see Yulia Tymoshchenko (25%), win by default, with support from Our Ukraine (12%) out-poll Party of Regions (33-34%)

Public opinion polling prior to the election had shown Lytvyn,. Former Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament under President Kuchma hold the balance of power.

The Socialist party has been the main point of attack by the opposition parties have targeted the Socialist vote which is strongest around the Poltava region. The Socialist movement in Ukraine is bitterly divided with various flavours (Including Yulia Tymoshenko) claiming to be socialist parties.

The other issue weighing against the Party of Regions is Party KUCHMA" a groups who has registered themselves under the name of Party of Regions and former Ukraine's president, Leonard Kuchma. Every vote for party KUCHMA is one less vote for the government.

Similarly is a party who head the ballot list, Communist Party of Ukraine (Revised) This party is designed to create confusion in the voting list in order to reduce the voter support offered to the Communist Party of Ukraine who are governing coalition members.

The Polls are predicting a high participation of 80% which is surprising considering the level of voter disillusionment and loss of confidence in the political process in Ukraine. A loss of confidence could work in the oppositions favour.

The government failed to capitalise in the campaign on the attack on Ukraine's parliamentary democracy and avoided criticism of the president's anti-democratic unconstitutional decree dismissing Ukraine's previous parliament and as such the false claim by the President and opposition forces that they are the only "democratic" political parties standing for office. The policies of Our Ukraine and Yulia Tymoshenko bloc are most certainly not democratic and not supportive of European Standards.

It is labels and branding like "Democratic" pro west" that can persuade undecided voters and most certainly the western media who are looking for simple catch phrases to fill in their 1 minute grabs on Ukraine.

The government should have tackled these issues head-on but instead opted to avoid these issues in fear that they would draw attention of the focus points of the opposition campaign, but in doing so they also killed off opportunity for their coalition partners

Participation Rate

A 2.5% rating in the polls divided by a 80% participation rate translates into 3.1% of the vote. So a low participation rate is to the minor players advantage.

The Socialist Party

The Socialist party should not be ruled our but all indications are that they will fall below the 3% barrier and as such it becomes a self full-filling prophecy. To a large extent the media in and outside Ukraine have written the Socialist Party of Ukraine off and as a result their voice was overshadowed by the opposition and Party of Regions. But the Socialist party's support is not that simple and not as populist orientated as the other players some of the previous polls had placed them above the 3% mark but it will be an uphill struggle.

Lytvn Party

The Lytvn Party is the main benefactor in the minor party race. Lytvn fell short of winning represe3ntation in the 2006 parliamentary election and all indications is that he may very well succeed in obtaining 4% of the vote. Much of his success will depend on the voter turnout and participation rate.

Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine

The other party that might succeed is Natalyia Vitrenko and the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine

The Vitrenko juggernaut whilst showing a presence was hardly seen during this campaign. Unlike in 2006 NATO did not rise to the forefront in the political debate and unlike 2006 Natalyia Vitrenko was not afforded every opportunity to be seen to be tackling the issues head on allowing economy and fortune to rule the agenda

Yulia Tymoshenko

Overall Tymoshenko, although not very truthful and decisive, had run the better of the campaigns. She tapped into the psychic of Ukraine and even tried the Joan of Arch approach by claiming she was the white maiden coming to save Ukraine.

Yulia had out-spent all other parties and came close to matching Party of Regions in their campaign costs estimated to have spent around 2-300 million dollars in the process.

Yulia's campaign has been focused and targeted. She started off attacking her coalition partners in order to ensure that she would receive the highest support and as such the right to become prime-minister if the opposition orange coalition win a majority of seats.

All indications is that she has succeeded to out poll her coalition partner Our Ukraine.

Our Ukraine

Our Ukraine's campaign had not tapped into the hearts and minds of Ukraine. Their campaign was reliant mainly on the presence of Victor Yushchenko who constantly campaigned for the opposition from the umpires seat. The problem they face was that the president's campaign was a blunt sword in that it advocated support for the broader opposition coalition.

The much trumpeted merger (It was in reality a takeover) with the newly created People's Self Defence Party has failed to attract popular support. All indications and polls are showing Our Ukraine will at best retain their 14% support shown in the 2006 election or may even lose out with a shift in support going to the Yulia Tymoshenko bloc.

The election by no means is a forgone conclusion but with up to 25% of voters supporting minor parties or "none of the above" the level of support of minor parties is crucial in the determining the final outcome.

Should the opposition not rise to power pressure will be on the president to resign as many Ukrainians still believe that the election was uncalled for and unconstitutional and will most certainly not resolve Ukraine's political tension and division.