Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ukraine results coming in

Results from the Ukrainian parliamentary election are coming in. This is Ukraine's third election in three years as the country continues to try to resolve the East-West tension (with the more Orthodox, Russian-speaking east supporting current PM Viktor Yanukovich and the Catholic, Ukrainian-speaking west supporting President Yushchenko).

Ukraine is rather unique in that it has a 450-seat parliament which is allocated entirely based on proportional representation in one nationwide constituency, with a 3% threshold. Moreover, the lists are closed. This system is tailor-made for abuse, as there's an obvious ability to get big businessmen ("oligarchs") and questionable characters in automatically by putting them high on the list. (Of course, this was happening well before Ukraine made the switch to this electoral system, anyway.)

At any rate, there's little reason to expect a large swing one way or the other. Because most voters are choosing a party on the basis of their religious/cultural leanings, they vote the same way each time. I'd wager that the number of swing voters is exceptionally low. There have been stories about how both sides are getting American advisors to make their policies more media-friendly, but I'm not sure who exactly needs to be convinced one way or the other.

The BBC is currently reporting that exit polls show 45 percent for Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc plus Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine" party, next to 35.5 percent for Yanukovich's Party of Regions. This may have been influenced by what looks like, at first glance, slightly higher turnout in some "orange" regions. However, we'll have to wait to see what the full regional breakdown looks like.

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