Ukrainians went to the polls on Sunday, Jan. 17, to choose their president from the 18 candidates running for the post this year. According to the election commission (UKR), opposition leader Victor Yanukovich received 35.32% of the vote, while prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko is in second place, with 25.05%. As neither won 50% of the vote, they face a runoff vote, scheduled for Feb. 7.
Serhiy Tihipko, a politician and a banker, who, among other things, served as Yanukovych's campaign chief in 2004, came in third, with 13.06% percent of the vote, while former parliament speaker Arseniy Yatsenyuk won 6.96%.
Incumbent president Victor Yushchenko came in fifth with 5.41%.
Voter turnout was approximately 67%.
Below are some of the reactions from the Ukrainian blogosphere.
In the comments section to LJ user dali_bude‘s post, LJ user otar (Ukrainian journalist Otar Dovzhenko) initiated this quick discussion (UKR) of the outgoing president's future:
A [full stop] in the Yushchenko theme: .
It's up to him. [Yanukovych] recovered from [the 2004 election] like Phoenix, even though [no one then expected him to]. So let him [Yushchenko] now show “the role of an individual in history.”
[…] During the re-vote of the second round of the 2004 election, Yanukovych received 44.2% of the votes. In some regions he had over 90% of support. To “recover” from such a result is somewhat easier than from Yushchenko's 5-6%.
Each one is the maker of one's own happiness, so, with all due respect, there's no point feeling sorry for Mr. President. We should feel sorry for ourselves, because of [having to chose in the election when there is no choice].
LJ user shorec quoted a Russian online media piece (RUS) that claimed that Yushchenko was preparing to emigrate to Canada following the election and had already started to evacuate his antique items and other property to Toronto. The blogger wrote (RUS):
He won't go away right after the election, because [the parliamentary election is right around the corner].
Even with his [world record result] [of losing votes], Yushchenko is still quite capable of making it into parliament with a party and have a faction there with some 30-35 MPs.
Subsequently, parliamentary immunity and an ability to trade votes on important issues will secure him a peaceful and affluent old age.
[…] If [Yushchenko] fails to get himself settled here, he'll go to the United States to do lectures on democracy. […]
On his own blog, LJ user otar wrote this about the outcome of the first round of the election (UKR):
Ukraine has made a totally predictable choice. Why it happened this way – we can spend a long time discussing it, but let's not, and instead let's just agree that we deserve it. […]
LJ user grebeniuk did a survey of sorts on the eve of the election, eavesdropping on and talking to “young people.” He shared his findings in this post in the ua_politika LJ community.
[…] A couple of typical opinions as examples:
1) A guy is trying to prove to his mother that Tymoshenko is bad. His argument: “Yulia came and the crisis and unemployment started.”
2) I especially liked how a young CD vendor answered my question, “And who are you for?”
HE: “For [Tihipko]. He's a [handsome man].
I ask him, “Is this all?”
HE: “No, it has nothing to do with orientation, he is also a [beautiful] politician… And Yulia is [beautiful] too and she talks [well].”
Dead serious. […] Deep analysis.
[…] This is how people are choosing. Such an approach to the [election that happens] once every five years – it gives hope, doesn't it? :)))
And political advisers, marketing and advertising specialists don't even have to bother! Comb your candidate, do the makeup, and go ahead! It's funny and sad :). […]
Tihipko is now one of the former candidates whose votes both Tymoshenko and Yanukovych hope to pick up in the runoff. Within minutes after the polling stations had closed down on Jan. 17, LJ user roman_sharp looked at the results of the four exit polls and commented (RUS) that “all Yanukovych has got to do is offer Tihipko the post of prime minister.” On Jan. 20, Tymoshenko did just that.
LJ user kireev – Aleksandr Kireev, founder of the bilingual Electoral Geography website – has a steady flow of blog posts about the Ukrainian election and its geography, and there is also a special page on Ukraine's elections since 1991 on his website, as well as a section devoted to the current election (ENG). Below is what he wrote (RUS) about Tihipko's phenomenon on his blog:
Tihipko's success once again made me ask the question that I had already asked in conversations many times before: how could they have [missed] a ready-made presidential candidate in 2004? […] It's just that I'm still surprised that choosing between two people, one of whom is clearly a good public politician, energetic, with a presidential character, behavior, speech and even the looks, while the other one lacks [all of it], they managed to choose the latter. Even the demographic characteristics of those who voted for Tihipko show that he would have been a much more inconvenient rival for Yushchenko than Yanukovych: he attracts votes of the more centrist, urban, educated, young electorate, and doesn't repel [voters in Ukraine's central] and even [western regions]. But they decided that it would do the way it was and were punished for this mistake.
LJ user shorec re-posted LJ user igordudnik‘s map of regional distribution of this election's runners-up (a slightly updated map is here), and wrote (RUS):
You can see that most of Serhiy Tihipko's voters are based in the regions that traditionally vote for Yanukovych. Thus, the transition of the majority of this electorate to Yulia Tymoshenko is highly unlikely. Approximately one third of them will vote for Yanukovych in the second round.
It is possible that many will not show up for the election. Tihipko's Volyn [region's] electorate and Ukraine's [central regions] might vote for Tymoshenko. Thus, Tihipko's voters will not have impact on the elimination of the gap of votes [between Tymoshenko and Yanukovych].
What I count on is that the orange electorate will at least have a choice of “voting against [Yanukovych]” after “the absence of choice” in the first round.
That's why I count on a bigger turnout, as well as on a consolidated position :)