Friday, April 24, 2009

Will He or won't He? Yuschenko the spoiler candidate

There has been a lot of speculation around about Victor Yuschenko contesting the next Presidential election scheduled for October 25.

Yuschenko according to public opinion polls has less then 3% support and all of the serious analysts are in agreement that if he stood he would lose in the first round and not be re-elected to a second term of office. So it was rather surprising to read in a recent article that Yuschenko intends to nominate for the next presidential election, an election that he is sure to lose along with what little credibility he may have left.

The "Western media"(read US Interests) are trying to talk up Arseniy Yatesniuk, the 35 year old pro-Yuschenko banker and Ukraine's former Speaker of the Parliament before Yuschenko had him removed as part of his failed attempt to disband the governing coalition late last year.

Yatseniuk, it is claimed, is within 1.5% points of toping Yulia Tymoshenko as the second preferred candidate for the Presidency. Under Ukraine's two round Presidential system the two highest polling candidates will face off in a second round of voting. Yuschenko's opponent, Victor Yanukovych remains in first place, so the battle is on between Yatseniuk and Tymoshenko to see who will be left standing and who will contest the second round.

One of the big down sides of Yatseniuk's campaign is that he is seen to be too close to Yuschenko who is no longer a draw card and seen more as a liability then an asset. Most of Yatseniuk's support has come from Yuschenko and the reminates of "Our Ukriane". If a party loses support it's support has to go somewhere. One candidate's gain is another candidate's loss.

The polls are showing little change in the support of Party of Regions (29 to 38%) who are retaining their overall support base. So Yatseniuk's support (20%) is not weakening his main rival. (52% to 45% two candidate preferred)

For Yatseniuk (20%) to survive the first round and beat Yulia Tmoshenko (21.5%) he needs every vote he can muster to stay in the race.

Yuschenko the spoiler candidate

If Yuschenko does run, he will be taking what little votes he has away from Yasteniuk making it that much harder for Yatseniuk to topple Tymoshenko and stay in the race. Yuschenko would be what is referred to as a spoiler candidate. His nomination for a seat he can not win will in fact assist Yulia Tymoshenko and Victor Yanukovych by reducing the opportunity and level of support for Yatseniuk.

This is a major problem with the two round simple voting system.minor candidates play a reverse, negative, role working against candidates that have a similar platform or policies.

Preferential voting provides voters with a alternative say in who they wish to support

Had Ukraine adopted a preferential voting system, where candidates are ranked according to the voters choice, the spoiler candidates would not
cause an unintended upset or reduce the chances of like minded candidates securing support. Yuschenko supporters will be secure knowing that their votes would not be wasted and should Yuschenko not perform overall then their vote could be transferred onto their preferred alternative candidate.

But Ukraine does not have a preferential voting system so Yuschenko's supporters will have to way up the odds and consider their options. Will they waste their votes and vote for Yuschenko knowing that he can not win or will they be better off abandoning him and supporting Yatseniuk who needs every vote he can get to beat Yulia Tymoshenko?

The voter drift

Even if Yatseniuk can win over all the Yuschenko supporters and he pushed Yulia out of second position there is no certainty that Tymoshenko supporters will embrace Yatseniuk's candidature. The odds are that a significant percentage of Tymoshenko supports will not.

Yatseniuk is accutly aware that Yushenko's canditure will be his down fall and Yatseniuk is desperatly trying to distance himself from Yuschenko.

In a country where the divisions and political alliances are so evenly divided it is unlikely that either Yulia or Yatseniuk can take votes away from Party of Regions candidate Victor Yanukoych.

But what is clear is that if Yuschenko does run he will be making it that much more harder and out right impossible for Yatseniuk to win.