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Election loyalties and tactical blunders – Odessa example

October 12, 2014

Not so very long ago, by and large the Ukrainian voting constituency could be divided into Orange and Blue – or Tymoshenko and Yanukovych.

Very much like other nations, many of those who voted Orange have never and would never vote Blue and vice versa.  No different to Americans who always vote Republican and never Democrat, or the British whom always vote Labour and never Conservative and vise versa.

Naturally onlookers may ponder such identity loyalty regardless of platform, policy or candidate – and many social and political scientists do.

The RADA elections in 3 weeks time, this year has no Blue running.  What is left of the official Party Regions is not running.  There is no party list for the party stalwarts to insure their RADA entry.  They are faced with first past the post, head to head electioneering for specific seats.  The exception to that may see Sergei Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine party pass the 5% electoral threshold.  The “Opposition Block” may very well struggle to overcome this hurdle.

Nobody would be surprised to see any of the old Regionaires who win any first past the post seats to coalesce within the “Opposition Block” in any new RADA formation – whether they have any current declared affiliation toward it or not.  It is unclear as yet whether Tigipko’s Strong Ukraine who whilst will certainly be in opposition, may shun any formal connections with the “Opposition Block”.  Time will tell.

However, the Orange vote is no longer Batkivshchyna or Ms Tymoshenko’s to dominate.  It too has been decimated.  The demise of Party Regions and Batkivshchyna long since predicted here.

Though Batkivshchyna and Ms Tymoshenko will enter the RADA passing the 5% party threshold, it is likely to lose a vast amount of votes to Block Poroshenko, Lyashko’s The Radical Party,  Hrytsenko’s Civil Position Party and Yatseniuk’s “People’s Front”.  Very vibrant, multi-party, democratic, and undoubtedly requiring coalition building to form a stable majority – a coalition from which we can expect Ms Tymoshenko and Batkivshchyna to be excluded.

So much for the party lists and 5% threshold – but what of those Regionaries who may win the first past the post seats for which the run and yet were uncomfortably close to the former President and were actively part of his corrupt pyramid?  In Odessa for example, the likes of Sergei Kivalov, Mykola Skoryk, and Eduard Matviychuk to name but 3.

Herein lies a problem for the traditional Orange vote and now displaced Blue vote from Odessa.

The Orange vote has numerous options and candidates for each seat to choose from as listed above – together with several others such as Svoboda who are unlikely to pass the 5% threshold but theoretically can win first past the post seats.  In short, the historical Orange vote will be distributed across numerous candidates.  All candidates will get votes, but none will get sufficient to be sure of victory.

And what of the Blue voters?  None will vote Orange per Batkivshchyna as stated at the very start of this entry, but some will vote for the Poroshenko candidates and perhaps the Yatseniuk candidates due to both leaders having history with Odessa – and history with Odessa counts when it comes to gaining votes.  Parachuted in candidates with no connection or history need not apply.  Others will vote for Strong Ukraine candidates in the belief it will be the only genuine opposition party to pass the 5% threshold.

Many however, will vote for those who used to be Blue – Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – based upon old loyalties, name recognition, the usual bribery, gift offering and local media bias.  This despite general acknowledgement they were far too closely involved with Yanukovych not have have been large beneficiaries of the Yanukovych system.

Very noticeably, there are no well known old Blues running against each other for any seat.  For example the Markov brothers or Evgene Tsarkov are not running for any seats, and thus the old Blue vote will not be as thinly distributed or split over a particular seat as it could have been.

It follows that although there may be some split of the Blue vote away from the Yanukovych loyalists and beneficiaries, Kivalov, Skoryk and Matviychuk – sufficient will remain to see them quite possibly become MPs due to the many Orange candidates sapping each others votes for each seat and failing to provide a more focused opposition.

As and when these nefarious individuals – and others from other towns and cities – are returned to the RADA, aside from onlookers pondering and decrying the misplaced/blind loyalty issues of some voters once again, perhaps there should be some recognition that had the non-Blue parties been more tactically aware, regarding certain seats against certain well known and corrupt/nefarious candidates, they may have chosen to field a single candidate to focus their voting constituency upon.

Maybe there is still time for parties to negotiate a single candidate to run against these men – maybe not.

All of that said, there is a definite need for an effective opposition in the RADA.  It is, however, a case of returning an effective and constructive opposition rather than returning a corrupt and nefarious body of people that are a hangover of the very worst of Ukrainian politics historically.  An effectively coercive and nefarious opposition may be as bad as a non-existent opposition.

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