BRAMA, Mar 31, 2006, 1:00 am ET|
Experts assess Ukraine's parliamentary elections
L-R: Alexander Motyl, Elehie Natalie Skoczylas, Adrian Karatnycky
New York (March 30, 2006) Yesterday evening, March 29th, a
panel discussion entitled "Ukraine's 2006 Parliamentary Elections:
Implications for Business and the International Community" was held at
the Ukrainian Institute of America (UIA - website).
It was jointly organized by The Orange Circle (OC - website) and the UIA.
Presenters included Elehie Natalie Skoczylas,
Vice President and Director of Research of QEV Analytics, in Washington DC;
Alexander J. Motyl, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University;
and Adrian Karatnycky, Founder and President of the OC. Numbering around 50 to 60 people, the audience included members of the UIA, Ukraine diplomats, students, investors and investment advisors focused on Ukraine, among others. Introductions were made by Jaroslav Kryshtalsky of the UIA and Adrianna Melnyk of the OC.
Alexander Motyl summarized some of the main themes embodied in the remarks of the other panelists. His opening statement underscored that, "... the most dramatic point
of these recent elections were that they were boring." Further, widespread expectations and substantiation by observers and exit polling data indicated that the voting was free and fair.
Professor Motyl continued by saying that in the period since the
presidential elections in 2004 there has been an internalization of normalcy. Unlike previous times there was no "struggle" or "sense of great effort" in the staging of these most recent elections. In his opinion, greater civility was present in Ukraine than in the recent elections in Germany and Italy.
Secondly, the presence of the Communist Party has diminished considerably. Unlike the runoff presidential elections of 1999 where Communist Petro Symonenko challenged incumbent Leonid Kuchma, in the most recent ballotting the Communists garnered only 3.6% of the vote, a distant fifth in comparison to Yanukovych's "Regions" at 32.12%, Tymoshenko's "BYUT" at 22.2% Yushchenko's "Our Ukraine" at 13.9%, and Moroz's "Socialist" at 5.7%. Correlating with the first point, there is a greater middle ground of consensus among the winning parties and a diminution of polarizing positions.
Lastly, with this substantive transformation from the brazen fraud of the Presidential elections of 2004 towards fairness and normalcy of the 2006 elections it will be more difficult to disassociate Ukraine from Europe and its various major organizations.
Underscoring some of Professor Motyl's points, Adrian Karatnycky pointed out that "the edge is off; there is no feeling of impending major retributions." With the elections over the winning parties are now turning to the formation of ruling coalitions. As Mr. Karatnycky explained, the "jockeying" is less about personalities and more about policies and the disposal of power.
Ms. Skoczylas focused her remarks on the boom in the use of polling data and the nuances of the campaign theme of the principle blocs. A major surprise for her was that Yulia Tymoshenko's strong showing was not predicted by the ongoing surveys throughout the campaign.
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