Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Turbulent times ahead as Ukraine heads into a bitter cold Winter election.

Presidential elections to be held on January 17, 2010

After months of delay Ukraine's Parliament has set the date for Ukraine's next Presidential election for January 17, 2010. The results of the election not expected until April 2010. Ukraine's embattled President, Viktor Yushchenko, has effectively extended his term of office by an additional three months beyond five years.

With the date of the Presidential election now out of the way Yushchenko, will now shift his focus towards dismissing Ukraine's Parliament and calling fresh parliamentary elections to be held in October. Yushchenko, who is subject to limitations under Ukraine's Constitution (Article 90) has until July 17 and arguably until the end of August to call for fresh Parliamentary elections. If Yushchenko dissolves the Parliament fresh Parliamentary elections must be held within 60 days.

Yushchenko will consider early Parliamentary elections as the best tactical means of undermining Yulia Tymochenko's campaign for the Presidency. Yulia Tymochenko will have to fight a campaign on both fronts and if she loses the Parliamentary elections it would be difficult for her to regain the upper hand and support to win the Presidential election.

Whilst early Parliamentary elections would perceivably benefit Yushchenko the most they will not be enough to save Yushchenko from defeat in 2010. Yushchenko would be pinning his hopes on a collapse in support for BYuT and the outside chance that voters will abandon Yulia Tymoshenko and shift their support to his candidacy for President. This is a huge gamble and one that is likely to come unstuck. Gambling on the outcome has not stopped Yushchenko in the past and he is desperate to grab on to any chance he can no matter what the consequences and the impact may be on Ukraine as a whole.

It is unlikely that we will see a level of stand-off and civil unrest as occurred back in 2007.

The mood of the electorate and the financial resources to sustain and meaningful protest will limit any chance of a drawn out stand-off between the Parliament and the President. Yulia Tymoshenko's government is not strong enough to fend off an unconstitutional attack by the Office of the President and they are already under pressure not only on the economic front but also by the perception that the government is dysfunctional and unable to fulfil a number of Cabinet's vacant position.

Early Parliamentary vote will dampen Yanukovych's Presidential campaign

In the meantime Party of Regions will continue to sit back and watch the two former Orange coalition partners fight it out amongst themselves, knowing full well that they are in poll position and best placed to win either the Parliament or Presidential elections.

Early parliamentary elections will not assist Yanukovych or Party of Regions. Whilst they have little to fear from early Parliamentary elections strategically there are better off if Presidential elections are held first.

A prolonged Presidential campaign is bad enough but the prospect of another round of early parliamentary elections proceeding the 2010 Presidential elections will take Ukraine to breaking point.

What is clear is that Ukraine is in for a long and divisive political season lasting six to eight months.

Ukraine had a chance to avoid the conflict and resolve the once and for all the divisions of power.

Sadly negotiations between the two main Parliamentary factions (Block Yulia Tymoshenko and Party of Regions) failed last month setting the scene for the next political crisis. A crisis that Ukraine can ill-afford at this particular point in time.

Elections are not cheap. The direct cost of each round of national elections is over 100 million dollars. Add to that the additional campaign costs (estimated at a further 100 million dollars per round) at a total cost of over half a billion dollars for all three ballots (One parliament and two Presidential) and you begin to realise the full extent of the problem facing Ukraine. Someone has to foot the bill and as they say there is no such thing as a free lunch.

Irrespective of who will win, Ukraine will be the looser.

When you add the additional untold cost to Ukraine's economy that will arise from the political infighting and uncertainty and factor in the Ukraine's current economic position things are not looking bright for Ukraine immediate future